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Why language classes do not work

 Language Learning Forum : Questions About Your Target Languages Post Reply
28 messages over 4 pages: 1 2 3
Joined 5477 days ago

26 posts - 27 votes
Speaks: Italian*

 Message 25 of 28
30 December 2008 at 3:22pm | IP Logged 
I have the opposite experience! Maybe I was simply lucky in terms of professors, materials and classmates, but all of the language classes I have had made wonders for me. None of them taught me the language - but that is not the purpose of language classes and they were always very clear about it: they would give you start and formal background (regarding the basic morphological patterns, phrases and so on), and it is up to you to build it up. It is impossible to learn a language in two 90-minutes lessons a week, but it is possible to work through the formal part and, if accompanied by your own self-study, make an excellent base.

That works particularly well for people like myself, who are very quick, but chaotic learners. Language classes introduce some order in my studies, make me go through some things I would probably miss otherwise and make sure I have regular contact with language even in weeks in which for some reason I am too busy to do much on my own (since when you pay for classes, you are not likely to miss them just like that, right?), and I am completely free to supplement them with whatever I find important (music, books, native speakers to speak to, and so on), as well as to skip a level if I really go past the group a lot (I have been in that situation, and they normally allowed me to skip a level and join more advanced group after the end of one semester). Language classes, of course, are only temporary measure, and once you get past them, you no longer use them, but instead have private classes with native speakers, or simply implement the language in your life and use it in other ways; still, why not make use of something which can be of use while you can, if prices are not exaggerated and you have some time? That is how I think about language schools, but as I pointed, perhaps I was lucky since it seems that my experience is not exactly a representative one.
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Joined 5141 days ago

25 posts - 27 votes
Speaks: Portuguese*, English, Italian, Spanish, French
Studies: Icelandic

 Message 26 of 28
06 January 2009 at 2:58pm | IP Logged 
My experience: 5 months of Italian, 4 hours a week, with an Italian teacher. Well, all I learnt were basic phrases (voglio un espresso è un biglietto per Napoli), the plural and the Passato Prossimo (ho fatto...). All this for "only" 125€. Great, isn't it?

After two months of training by myself, I was able to read Italian with quite ease and even speak with native speakers in my class (though with some errors, of course). My biggest problem is writing, but I guess that just requires training.
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Senior Member
Joined 5260 days ago

532 posts - 619 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Spanish, Italian
Studies: German, Croatian

 Message 27 of 28
09 January 2009 at 12:37pm | IP Logged 
William Camden wrote:
I doubt whether anyone learned French 40 to a classroom jammed elbow-to-elbow with the apathetic and stupid.

I did! But yes, I wouldn't set foot in a language class nowadays. Another problem is people's motivation for being in a language class. Few are there to actually learn, most go back to their 'high school' personality, some are there because they've nothing better to do, some are there to get laid, some are there to prove they already know everything, some are there because their parents made them, some are there only to distract the teacher and ask dumb questions, some are there just to say to their friends that they study X language etc.
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Senior Member
Russian Federation
one-giant-leap.Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5830 days ago

465 posts - 696 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, English, ItalianC1, Spanish
Studies: Portuguese, Serbian

 Message 28 of 28
11 January 2009 at 9:49am | IP Logged 
I've seen language classes for mixed level, they were really disastrous. All the bad points mentioned in the first post were present, and the lazyness of some below-intermediate students was irritating. BUT!

I've studied at a very productive language class, that was preparation for test of Italian at advanced level. I guess, there were 3 parts of this success:

1) the character of the teacher. We really loved her for her brilliant personality! Positive thinking and diplomatic, yet honest and direct when estimating our abilities and performance.
2) the end goal - that is a strong motivation, so when you have it and you put it to yourself, you invest 10 times more energy.
3) the already achieved level or fluency - few people reach the level where we were at that time, so this automatically filtered out any lazy person - the material was irrelevant for them.

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