Our teachers all agree that to be good in one language means that one must understand how each small parts of a language belong together in order to be able to communicate effectively. Therefore they listen carefully to how the students are using their language and whether they’re using it like an English person. And if not, they can correct them and teach them how to communicate in English with more confidence.
Tom interviewed some of our teachers of Europa School of English in Bournemouth in the summer of 2015
CAN YOU INTRODUCE YOURSELFS BRIEFLY PLEASE?
Jane: “I’m Jane and I have been teaching at International Projects for a number of years now.”
Darren: “Hi, I’m Darren and this is my first year at this school. I’ve been a teacher for a number of years now so I’m quite experienced.”
Olli: “Hi, I’m Olli and this is my first year for IP International Projects as well. I’ve been teaching for a few years so I suppose I’m the youngster.”
Jane: “Yeah, we need your energy!”
Darren: “I mean the system of the school is quite nice, isn’t it? Because we are older and younger people we got experience and new ideas.”
WHAT’S THE MAIN GOAL WHILE TEACHING YOUR STUDENTS?
Jane:” Well, I just talked about this topic with some new students this morning because I’m teaching the young learners at the moment. They are all ready for their grammar but we have to tell them, “no no no.” Of course we will sort the grammar out as we come along but actually that’s not what the main goals of our lessons are. That’s what they learn in their schools during their English classes back in their own countries. We’re here to practice the different aspects of English in a lot of different ways and situations. So it’s very much living a language and I try to emphasize that mistakes are good because we all make mistakes. Even we do, even native speakers! Especially when you’re thinking on your feet and it is spontaneously you don’t form your grammar correctly all the time. But it’s about how we communicate and to get confident!”
Darren: “I would agree that confidence is very important. And I think when you’re in a normal class room situation you can be focused too much on producing what the teacher has asked you to produce whereas to be good in a language you have to have the understanding of how the little bits go together in order to make communication. One of the things I do in my lessons is I listen very carefully to how the students are using their language and whether they’re using it like an English person because than we can correct them. So when they are talking to people in English the communication is there and that can happen without all the right grammar if you have the right pieces, the right emphasis and so on”.
Olli: “Yes, take for instance if you come across a text and the students have never seen a particular word before. You can have all the grammatical understanding in the world and now you look at this word and trying to say it and you’ll have no idea. And our idea concerning this problem is that we try to push them so they can get the necessary confidence. So that when they look at a new word they are more like, “Well, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to say it.” Because if you make it fun and trying to introduce the idea in a fun way then 25 minutes after the beginning of the lesson maybe a couple of students might realize, “Oh, hold on. I’ve been learning something for the last 25 minutes.”
SO YOU WOULD SAY IT’S A DIFFERENT KIND OF TEACHING THAN IN SCHOOL?
Darren: “Yes, it is. I think particularly here we are very relaxed. We don’t have certain exams we’re trying to get through or anything like that. Looking at the class as teachers, looking at the different individuals in the class and how they are using their language you’re just helping them using their language. Since we are the English experts because we are the English teachers a lot of our knowledge doesn’t come out of books, it comes out of our understanding of language”.
THE MOTTO OF IP INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS IS “LEARN MORE THAN A LANGUAGE”. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE LESSONS?
Jane: “It links exactly to what we were just saying about confidence and fluency and knowing how to communicate efficiently and effectively with people. Because now we understand globally that English is developing as a complete hybrid. It always has done, this is nothing new. We always tend to think there’s a fixed English language because of the course books but there isn’t! There’s Australian English, New Zealand English, there’s American English – those are the more official ones. But we’ve now got Indian English, Asian English, Chinese English and all these different people are probably never going to speak English with a native English speaker. They will be speaking English with people from different countries and therefore English is still developing which is why it is a lingua franca because it can do that. It has the whole structures to allow it to develop. However, that means for someone who wants to pin down all the right grammar and the correct ways of using English has to realize that the English language is constantly developing. And I keep telling my students, “It’s going to change, it’s going to change!” So it’s about teaching them the skills to adapt to this change.”
Darren: “It’s not so much what happens as individuals but what happens as a group what is important for experiencing more than a language because language is just a tool that we use. So the kind of environment that the language schools of IP International Projects create is one in which people can have fun, in which they can enjoy themselves and in which they almost learn the language incidentally while they are doing other things. And this is the way how children learn even their own language; they don’t sit down and study books, they are immersed in a situation. I think that is the focus of our language school. ”
Olli: “Take for instance the excursions when you give the students the opportunity to go out and experience different kind of things. And when they come back into the class room there are immediately talking points. For example one student who has not gone on the trip because he has just arrived could be told by the other students, “It’s an amazing place. Just drop what you’re doing and go there!” But also in other situations our students learn more than a language. When they go into a shop and ask for something it gives them the opportunity to put something that we taught them into practice and they feel more confident for having done so. And when they leave the class rooms back to their own countries they get back to speak their native tongues and then by the next lesson they would most likely have not thought about what they have learned here again. Whereas the different types of excursions and trips to shops give them the possibility to practice English in a real life situation and to really keep it in mind.”