If you are a keen follower of our website’s ‘Tips & Resources’ section, you would have read the last article about why conversation classes are highly beneficial for learning a new language. Today, we want to give details about what we want to achieve and what we actually do in these classes. What we want to achieve: We’ve already pointed out how important it is to build up confidence in the students. So once they enter the room, they need to feel that they are among friends where they can relax. We want to provide unintimidating and fun classes where they can experiment with old and new vocabulary. Not only do we aim to get the students speaking, we also want to maximize their speaking time. In a perfect class, the teacher is silent and only acts as a ‘showmaster’ who encourages participation, praises success and occasionally acts as a referee. At all other times, the students should be speaking. They ask the questions, answer each other’s enquiries, help each other when they get stuck, explain things to each other and correct each other’s mistakes in the target language. We want active learners. It is very hard to achieve good results through passive learning, which occurs predominantly through reading and listening. Much more effective is speaking and writing as it aids the retention of the language in the active part of the brain. We don’t want our students to sit around and listen, we want them to be the protagonists who do things in an interactive way with their fellow students. We want to make it stick. We want them to remember words and structures - and practice is the key. What we do: A [...]
You are probably aware that Language Hub offers conversation classes that –depending on the language - take place once, twice or three times a week for one hour. Here is why we think these classes are worth your while. I’m sure we would all agree that learning a new language involves learning the four skills: reading, listening, speaking and writing. And yet, we ask and expect other people to ask us: Do you speak English? ¿Hablas español? Parlez-vous français? But never: Do you read or write or listen to English? Speaking is usually the main goal of a student in his decision to learn a language. Unfortunately, speaking is also one of the most difficult skills to develop when you are studying a new language. When students use their target language in a social situation like in their core classes, they often get nervous or feel embarrassed because they haven’t practiced speaking at home. They might have done plenty of exercises in their books and have done a lot of reading, but speaking outloud is a big deal. It requires to recall the right vocabulary, combine it with the correct inflection and sentence structure and –if that wasn’t difficult enough – utter it with accurate pronunciation and intonation to express what you want to communicate. No wonder that students get overwhelmed! In addition, we’ve all been in that awkward situation where we’re put on the spot and can’t seem to put one and one together - despite the fact that we’re in full command of our native language! Conversation classes therefore offer students the opportunity to improve their speaking skills while building up their confidence. Teachers will encourage students to make use of what they [...]
Not everyone who makes the commitment to learning a foreign language has heard of language immersion learning, so we would like to shed some light on the concept. Language immersion is a teaching method in which the target language is the only language used in the classroom. Just like your mum and dad were teaching you their native language when you were born - and you were watching, listening and imitating it - your teacher is communicating with you in that foreign language non-stop. To help with this communication your teacher will use various tools like pictures, actual objects and demonstrations as well as facial expressions, gestures and mime and pointing. The key point, as with every learning, is repetition. Where does Immersion learning come from? The first language immersion programmes originated in Canada in the 1960s when parents asked educators to set-up a scheme that would enable their children ‘to appreciate the traditions and culture of French-speaking Canadians as well as English-speaking Canadians’. They assumed that this approach would help to facilitate their children’s future economic and social prosperity. In a population consisting of speakers of two languages, the main purpose of language immersion programmes is to foster bilingualism through teaching school subjects such as math, science and social studies. The formats can vary; from total immersion where students spent 100% of their class time in the foreign language and partial immersion (50% in the foreign language) to two-way immersion where the class consist of students with different language backgrounds so class time is split in half and taught in both languages with students encouraging and teaching each other (e.g. English and Spanish in the United States). Why learn a language through immersion Learning? [...]
When we first started working on the online learning project, we never expected that it would turn out to be such a huge success. We thank all our students especially those who burnt the midnight oil pushing themselves to learn through our Language Topics and Quizzes, and those who got up to the assignment level and successfully handed it over to our teachers for feedback. Though the Topics started right from the basics, “Greetings and Introductions” and difficult levels can only be unlocked after each lesson, we were really surprised when the advanced students took up the challenge, went on to learn new words even from the beginner level and submitted more elaborate assignments for review. A glimpse of Online Language Learning We all have a busy lifestyle, but how far are we willing to push ourselves to explore new things and to quit our comfort zone, is what defines us. When you are learning a new language, many things can come in the way, and if you work your way around it, you will see how beautiful and enriching experience language learning can be. We created online learning so you can take learning outside the classroom. It is available to all Language Hub students and is a free learning tool, so please make maximum use of it – Push yourself. Congratulations Congratulations to German student Michael B for being our 'top' online student. You're a star!
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 [...]
Give your motivation an outlet You're really keen to start speaking your new language and after your language classes each week you review what you've learned and do your homework. But you'd love to be doing more - and more you should! The best, quickest way to learn to speak a new language is to practice it everyday. A little everyday gets your brain used the way this new language works, AND it means you have no time to forget what you've already learned, meaning you can progress faster. So what can you do to keep progressing? There are many ways to practice and improve your language skills, one of which is through buying a text book and studying at home. Have you been burned before? If you've decided that a text book is a way forward for you, the next step is choosing and buying the book. And here's where things get dangerous. The quality of textbooks varies widely, and has very little to do with the price. If you're buying a language book for the first time, its difficult to know if you are making the right purchase. The wrong purchase, as well as costing you money, is also very demotivating and a killer for your language progress, as you have on your hands a text book that you can't use and don't want to use, and that is completely unsuited to your learning needs. What to avoid in a textbook So how to choose an appropriate textbook? Firstly, stay clear of anything that promises outrageous results. Any "learn to speak in 3 months" or "10-minutes a day" book is not a book for you. So is a book that only provides explanations [...]