Learning a language, as with learning anything, should remain interesting or else it can quickly become a chore. Once this happens, the motivation seeps away from the learner and the end of the learning process is in sight. This reasoning is particularly important for foreign languages as learning a language well can take years. It’s really important therefore that anyone taking a language course has the content and materials tailored to their unique needs and requirements.
Cinema fans would obviously be drawn to using film extracts, trailers and film reviews. Sports fans on the other hand would be more attracted by sports websites, sports TV channels, sports articles and columns in magazines and newspapers and sporting profiles. Obviously, if learners are in a group then they have limited control over the material provided. Whatever their preference and learning style, however, the methodology and content of the language course needs to be adapted appropriately to create maximum impact.
Learners are essential to the success of the learning process and are consulted more now than they ever used to be about their interests in an effort to ensure the most appropriate material is being used. For younger learners in schools, this is rarely the case as there is a curriculum and a lot of pupils to cater for. For professional adult learners, however, there is much more flexibility in the way that language courses are adapted.
Adult learners need to take responsibility for their own learning as this will create the most effective results. Learners who lack the right level of motivation, curiosity and open-mindedness about language training will struggle to see any concrete results. Here are a few things that learners can do or be to make their language course as effective as possible:
- Learners need to be open-minded about how learning a language through different training approaches can benefit them. They need to be open about their personal interests and learning style so that the trainer can adapt the course in such a way that will remain interesting for the learners.
- Learners also need to show a curiosity and willingness to understand the different structures of the target language and the way its grammar works. Asking questions and being inquisitive about the language rather than just memorising things will create the most learning opportunities that will be beneficial in the long term.
- For learners in group language courses, sharing knowledge and ideas with other learners can help solve problems and facilitate progress. There is also the important social element present in a cooperative environment which can increase learners’ motivation and maintain their good levels of attendance in difficult times. The idea of working together with others to do activities, often referred to as task-based learning, has become an important approach in language learning.
- As in any language, vocabulary is essential. For communicative purposes, it is arguably more important than grammar. It’s therefore imperative that learners are motivated to learn a certain number of new vocabulary items per week. These items need to be learned in context, so their precise meaning and how they are used can be fully understood. The pronunciation and spelling of the word are obviously important as well but may also depend on the level of the learner’s language ability and needs. Being selective is essential as there are simply too many words in any language to try to learn them all. This is the job of the learner outside the classroom and the job of both the trainer and the learner inside the classroom.
Language learners play a huge role in ensuring the success of anylanguage course. By understanding their own learning style and sharing this with their trainer they can not only enjoy training more but they will also learn more effectively. Motivation, open-mindedness and curiosity are all essential for any language learner, not only in the training room but in practising the language in the real world.
© Communicaid Group Ltd. 2011