If we want the best way to learn a language we need the presence of three main elements:
1. Motivation (“How badly do we want to acquire practical use of the language?”)
2. Free time (Availability of and willingness to invest emotional, mental and financial resources).
3. A teacher – someone who has the knowledge and skills that the student wants to attain and that has been trained to effectively guide students through the learning process.
Learning a language is a process that requires the active and steady participation of both teacher and student. The teacher is certainly the leader of the process, but she must constantly encourage the student to take an increasingly active role in choosing the lesson content and goals, deciding on the intensiveness of the course and even fine-tuning the methods used in class. For example, some students prefer to have their teacher read a text before they try, while others are willing to “jump right in”.
Effective learning is made possible when a high level of trust exists between teacher and student. The student believes in the teacher’s ability to teach him, and the teacher relies on the student to do his part in creating an effective learning process (i.e. self-practice and homework).
Why is the presence of a teacher so critical to the learning process? The first reason has to do with the teacher’s ability to reconstruct complicated grammar and syntax rules, in such a way as to make them accessible to the student. This amazing skill that good teachers have requires them not only to be intimately familiar with the target content, but to also be familiar with and sensitive to the student’s specific knowledge internalization capabilities and nuances. In addition, the teacher’s feedback is an absolutely necessary component, without which the student has no reliable means of distinguishing between correct and incorrect language use.
We strongly believe that a good language teacher does not simply dispense knowledge in the class, but rather takes a holistic approach to helping the student gain proficiency and confidence. Case in point, the teacher should encourage and provide his students with practical tools for making the target language a regular part of his daily life (reading articles, writing letters or emails and most importantly, speaking). These experiences from “the field” are later brought to the class, in order to get additional tools and guidance in advance of the next spontaneous opportunity to use the language in a real life situation.
One of the biggest and possibly most important challenges our teachers face is to help students overcome mental barriers of hesitation or fear of actively using the target language, especially in conversation. Therefore, a significant part of each lesson is designated to exercises that induce active conversation. For example, in a lesson dealing with prepositions (in, on, at, below, before…) the teacher might show a picture of a table with different objects around it. The teacher would then ask the student to describe what he sees using prepositions to describe the position of the objects in relation to the table.
With a student at a more advanced level, the teacher could present a short story in which someone is unjustly treated. The text is meant to intrigue and arouse the student’s sense of curiosity and in this case the student’s sensitivities and sense of morality, so as to induce an excited and energetic vocal response on the part of the student. Here we see that the text is only a means to an end, the main goal being an active free-flowing conversation.
Our virtual classroom offers an effective, interactive and multifaceted learning experience. Students gain access to teachers that are best suited to their needs, regardless of their geographical location and the lessons are conducted in the place most comfortable for the student – her home. Time otherwise wasted on travelling and looking for parking, can now be used to learn the target language.
The virtual class is an interactive platform with state of the art communication (video, audio) and document sharing options. Lessons are usually taught using structured presentations, but teachers often use the “virtual whiteboard” to explain different subjects and encourage students to write or type on the whiteboard as well. You can even surf the web or watch a movie with the teacher in class.
Even great teachers and highly motivated students need a supportive framework in order to meet the challenge of learning a language head on. Our pedagogical and technical support teams are busy at all times, behind the scenes; ensuring students have the best chances of accomplishing their goals in a timely and enjoyable manner. In addition to creating new learning materials for different courses, we hold regular consultations with teachers, regarding their students’ progress and ways of improving the individual teaching process.
We are aware of the fact that our students invest many resources into acquiring a language; and that they take on this challenge with the expectation of feeling significant progress and seeing concrete results, at the end of the process, in return for their efforts. We take this responsibility seriously and do our utmost to help them realize their aspirations.
Students’ needs and circumstances can change and lesson formats can change accordingly, but they usually include the following elements (not necessarily in this order):
• “Warm-up” conversation on any relevant topic
• Review of the material or homework from the previous lesson
• Reading of a short text (sometimes only one or two paragraphs out of an article or story)
• Learning of new words from the text
• Learning of grammar or syntax rules that came up while reading the text
• Free conversation regarding the content of the text (try combining new vocabulary and grammar)
• Writing assignment (for example a summary of an article or a letter to the writer/editor)
• Lesson summary and homework assignment
Our teachers make a great effort to enrich their classes with teaching aids such as songs and video clips, in order liven up the learning experience. We put an emphasis on dialogs and simulations of real life situations, in which the student may find himself in a position in which he has to express himself in the target language (in a restaurant, a taxi, in an interview, etc.).
In a typical lesson, a student can expect to learn 10-20 new words or phrases. Quality is the name of the game, not quantity, so it’s more important to learn how to use the words correctly, as opposed to simply learning the meaning of as many words as possible.
The syllabus of any given course can be roughly divided into two main components:
1. Communication skills (reading, writing, conversation)
2. Language elements (vocabulary, grammar and sentence structure)
These two components are taught and practiced simultaneously, in as much as they complement one another.
For further insights regarding our language teaching methodology, feel free to contact us.
LingoLearn is an online languages school that offers beginners level language courses, as well as intermediate and advanced level courses. Learn a language with our experienced teachers and excellent learning materials, in a state of the art virtual classroom!