3 Ways of Learning a Language Outside the Classroom
We all know how learning a language can be very useful and sometimes even lots of fun. Be it work, studies or just for the heck of it, there are a myriad of reasons for sitting down and putting in those hours of Spanish, Mandarin or German. At times though, it can seem as if however much you try to progress you’re just not getting anywhere.
The truth is that the traditional approach of getting yourself off the couch, sitting your backside down in a classroom chair and having a language figuratively thrown at your face is a process that can be lacking at best and detrimental at worst.
We’re all too familiar with the ouvrez-la-fenêtre phenomenon. All those years of learning French at school only to come away from the whole process with the deficient knowledge of a few simple commands and phrases which will come in very handy when you find yourself in the inevitable situation of having to boss around a bunch of snotty seven-year-old schoolchildren in a draughty French classroom. Open the window. Close the door. And wipe those obscene scribblings off of the interactive whiteboard while you’re at it.
And yet most of us will never have the pleasure or misfortune of finding ourselves in such a questionable situation as this (unless you are a French teacher, in which case you should probably be somewhat better acquainted with the language anyway). The point is we will never get to use those skills in which we invested so many hours of our childhood (cue sad face).
In any case, learning a language in the classroom doesn’t have to be a dismal and disappointing experience. And neither does it have to reap next to no benefits. Formal education is a means to an end and it shouldn’t necessarily be discarded or dismissed. If done properly the benefits can show. But we mustn’t forget that it is just another tool in the shed of language learning. Here we shall be exploring some of the other less explored tools at hand and, hopefully, inspiring you to delve into the shed and go dust them out a little.
1. Language Tandems
Tandems. Language exchange events. Call them what you will. If you have a Facebook account and live near a medium-sized city chances are you’ll find something of the sort online. These events tend to be set up by language tandem organisations or just by one or two people who...