The classroom environment is a great place to test your language skills. In a classroom, you can take all the time you need, you can make mistakes, and you can relax knowing that the people in your class are experiencing what you are. The classroom is the place to practice, so you can go out into the real world with confidence.

Some tips to make the most of your classes:

  • Make mistakes
  • Ask questions
  • Learn from and help your classmates
  • Practice at home and then take your questions to class
  • Speak in your target language as much as you can
  • Practice the art of “guessing from the context” (you don’t know all the words – but you know enough to guess the overall meaning) – a valuable real-life skill
  • Don’t settle for not knowing. If you don’t understand something ask for clarification, practice at home, ask for more clarification
  • Relax and enjoy – no one is judging you
  • Practice both accuracy and fluency
  • Accuracy and Fluency: Two essential skills

    Learning a language means learning both accuracy and fluency.
    Accuracy means you never make a mistake – every sentence is grammatically correct, and your pronunciation is flawless.
    Fluency means talking a whole lot. It means talking about ancient philosophy, the rugby game on Saturday night, your secret fantasies and what you really think of your mother-in-law all without pausing for breath.
    In learning a language, you should work on both your accuracy and your fluency. As you are learning – you may find that if you speak in simple sentences you can be quite accurate. But when you want to discuss more complex topics your accuracy is lost. However, its better to be able to discuss these complex topics with a loss of accuracy than not be able to discuss them at all.

    In class your teacher will make sure you do different activities that allow you to improve both your accuracy and your fluency. When you are at home, you should also make sure you practice both skills, and do a large variety of activities so you can practice and become proficient at all aspects of the language.

    Read and watch TV to practice your passive skills, increase your vocabulary and get used to the structure of the language. Talk to yourself in the shower, keep a diary, get a penpal or an exchange partner so you can practice your active skills. Don’t memorise vocabulary lists or use flashcards unless its for a specific, short term goal. These will only stay in your short term memory so won’t lead to language acquisition, unless you have a plan for converting these words into your long term memory. No matter what you do (even if its flashcards because you love them and can’t get enough of them) make sure you do something every day, because the best way to learn both fluency and accuracy is regular practice and exposure to the language.