Language Training instead of Linguistic Theory
The Direct Method
You come to us to master a second language. You wish to learn as fast and efficiently as possible. Our long-years experience has shown that the direct approach leads much faster and safer to this target. Under this method, students are trained to use a language correctly. By contrast, approaches that teach students linguistic theory, also known as grammar rules, with the intention to apply these rules once the students have understood them, have rather poor results. This practical life experience is supported by scientific research for many years.
Recruitment of Language Teachers
Evidently, our often astonishing success in language teaching depends on the right choice of language trainers. On principle, we employ only native speakers in teaching. This means your teacher teaches you his or her native language. As a second criterion, we expect a sound knowledge of grammar from our teachers. Now you may ask why we request knowledge of grammar, after you just read that we do not want our teachers to teach grammar. Precisely because we do not want our teachers to explain language problems by grammar, it is very important that teachers understand their language by an abstract approach to monitor the learning process. The third criterion is a natural teacher personality and the way a teacher will approach his or her teaching work. We believe that it is hardly possible to train a person with an unsuitable personality to do really good classes.
Liberty in Class
We leave much space to our teachers as every class is different, depending on teacher and student personalities and what needs to be learned. To instruct teachers which material to use when and what to do in which lesson, would leave much potential left unused. Still, there are course books that we use regularly. However student books are rather left for homework and classes are designed to prepare students for their upcoming homework, which will be checked in the beginning of the next lesson.
We expect our teachers to speak only in their native language, whenever their students may hear them, even if teacher and student happen to meet by accident somewhere else. This makes the teacher's language the language of the relationship between student and teacher. You will make the psychological experience to need this language whenever you wish to communicate with the person.
Language is primarily oral. Writing developed much later and the concept of grammar as a theoretical construct to analyse the structure of languages was invented much later still.
When you try to read a written language, you have to convert signs into sound, and often the result is incorrect. It is very arduous to later rectify incorrect pronunciation. Thus we go the other way around, the natural way: New content is first trained orally and visualised in writing only at the end of a session, when students know the contents well enough. You may find the spelling odd compared to the pronunciation that you have already accepted, rather than find the pronunciation odd having already accepted the spelling.
Variation and Memory Training
To make information available in the long term, it has to be recalled many times with extended breaks in between. Thus it will be engraved deeper in your memory. Still, learning a language requires to learn from many different fields. Therefore, we exercise a set of information with you until you feel safe with it for the moment. Then we change the topic and train another set of information or recall information we have done in previous lessons until you feel safe with it again. Now we ask you to remember the first set of information, which will be difficult but not yet impossible for you to recall. Now we ask you about the second set of information and then introduce a third set. As we introduce more sets of information, the time between two instances of recalling the same information becomes longer. We go on with this, until the information has been engraved deep enough for you to recall it from your notes the next day. When this stage has been reached, the information will be presented on the whiteboard.
Especially when a strong resistance against learning comes up in a student, it may help to plan classes superficially by topics that hide the language teaching approach. Of course, the classes are still in the chosen language. However, instead of putting language as the visible target of the class, teaching is organised around a content that the student is interested in. When the student wishes to communicate with the teacher about the attractive topic of the class, he has no other choice than to use the chosen language. This approach works well when working on the topic is steered in a direction that requires the particular structures and vocabulary that are intended to be learned.
Writing is important as it is a prerequisite to take information home from the class room and recall it later. If you do not do your homework, you are very likely to forget much of the newly learned information before you come back to class. To allow this to happen makes classes less efficient and unnecessarily expensive. Our teaching approach targets at your using your purchased class time in an optimum way. We want you to retain as much language content as possible.
Written Language and Homework
When your teacher writes something on the board, you must copy it on paper. Please write this information into a class notebook as opposed to the respective book for exercises, structures or vocabulary. We do not want you to write a word, while the oral class is under way, as this would drive your attention away from the class. You will have enough time, once the teacher is done with writing onto the board.
As a general rule, you have classes with us twice a week. If possible there should be alternately two and three days between two classes. On the day after a class, take your class notebook and copy the information in neat writing into the respective books: exercise books for exercises to be done, vocabulary book for any new vocabulary, structure book for any new language structure. Doing this you will probably remember a lot of additional information that you heard in class but did not write down. Check this informatin and add it. Once this has been completed, do your homework for the first day.
On the second day after a class, look again at your notebook and what you took from it and put into the other books. Check your homework from the previous day. Then do your homework for the second day.
Having done your homework correctly, you should well master what has been taught in your last class. Should there be any exercise that you did not cope with, tell your teacher. Your teacher will explain the exercise again and from a different perspective. This will also help your teacher to understand your personal way of learning and help the two of you to become a better team.
Start small and improve
Learning processes depend heavily on motivation, which in turn depends on a sense of achievement. Before we require you to do an exercise at home, we check in class that you are able to complete similar exercises. This applies to transformation exercises and to memorizing vocabulary as well. Moreover we ensure that you have only small and easy exercises in the beginning. When we see that you can actually do your homework, we start to increase the volume little by little.
To keep new language content active even years after a course with us, we help you to recall it after days, weeks and months.