I have been asked many times, what is the best method of learning? Frankly speaking, an ideal method does not exist! Why? Because every student is different, has different needs, expectations and personal styles of learning.
If “visual” intelligence predominates your life, you “see” language like you see other things. In this case, it will be easier for you to remember words you have seen written. You probably like working with texts, presentations, photos, movies, schemas, diagrams, lists of words and pictures. It is also possible that you do not like to talk too much an in your language you use expressions like“ I don’t see ”, “show me”, “ let’s imagine” and “ this is clear”.
If you learn the language by listening, than you would prefer attending lectures instead of making notes. You probably would like to repeat new words and expressions aloud and discuss problem with others to find solution. It is possible that you would use expressions like “listen, I am talking to you”, “ it sounds bizarre”, “I have a question”.
If your “channel” of experiencing the language is though emotion, movement, and touch, then you learn language by action, doing things, experimenting, and role-playing. You probably tend to use a lot of gestures, like to move, and maybe have some spelling problems. Expression you would like to use would include “ to take something”, “ I don’t feel like…” “to hold fast”, “to touch upon an important question”. Many times you can be “visual” and “emotional” at the same time!
Knowing your type will help you in a process of learning and will make it more pleasurable and fun. Nothing will be too difficult.
Based on this knowledge above, you can choose between individual lessons, group courses, tandem courses or e-learning that follows your preferred method.
During the individual lesson your teacher can concentrate only on you and your needs so the time can be used very effectively.
If you choose to study in a group because you like to meet other people and you prefer group learning, it can either speed-up or slow-down your process depending the group you are in. The collective motivation plays a big role in a group learning as well. When choosing groups, we should not forget about self-learning after classes.
The teacher can help you a lot guiding this process but a lot of work you must do alone to master a language.
As a complement to the information above, I would like to recommend a very good way of learning foreign languages called “tandem language learning”. A lot of language schools and universities are using this method. From my experience it is a very effective and pleasant tactic based on language exchange between two native speakers, each wanting to learn the other’s language.
In tandem the most important benefit is the absence of stress and unnecessary rivalry that can be present in a group. These factors can increase your motivation for learning and mutual failures along the way remain private between the two speakers. When the tandem method works, it can yield fantastic results.
Regularity of meetings is another important key to learn. These meetings can be face-to-face or via internet. For example, twice per week, one hour of English and another hour of Polish. It is crucial to have the same level of engagement , preparation, and effective use of time when working with the tandem method.
Being open and accepting your partners culture, practicing tolerance and understanding brings enormous benefits and aids learning greatly..
Cross -cultural interactions offer learning opportunities that can provide depth. For example, things like colloquial language and slangs. Students can also visit each other’s homes, meet in the pub, cook and eat while learning more, more and more…
Students can exchange music, movies, and books if both learners share common interests and are on the same level. If not on the same level, there is always the opportunity to practice patience. It is always good to plan ahead and set goals and achieve targets. Sometimes too much freestyle can be demotivated.
From my experience students learn more effectively when we reduce unnecessary stress to the minimum, that is, if they have fun, if they can play, if they have TIME for learning. If you are here for a while (Socrates/Erasmus) and you can dedicate more time for learning, besides the regular lessons try the tandem and just taste the language! Give yourself this luxury to taste the language! And definitely share your experience with me!
This article was published in The Wrocław International - Wrocław’s First English-Language Newspaper, February 2012, Issue 16, ISSN 2082-730X.