Friday, December 14, 2012

What we can learn from the Japanese

The Japanese, and many Asian Cultures, have a passion for education that many countries should strive to share.  Part of the culture dictates that one should be incredibly patient and do things meticulously until perfection.  This is especially true when it comes to learning a new language.

A recent study shows that the Japanese have realized the power of learning a new language, in particular English.  93% of the parents interviewed want their children to have more of a global viewpoint and think their kids need to speak English in order to succeed later in life.

However, 86% of people surveyed were dissatisfied with the country's approach to English.  Why?  Because it is not practical.  The article discusses that their is too much focus on "Exam English" and not enough focus on "Practical English".

We see a very similar thing here in the United States.  Schools have all come to terms that Americans need to learn  new languages in order to compete in a global world.  So the educators have all come together and made new requirements that students need 2-3 years of a World Language to graduate from high-schools and colleges across the country.

Unfortunately, they have made these requirements to study the language, but not to learn how to speak the language.  So what happens is students enter very big classes where they may be able to learn how to read and write the language of study, but can't speak the language or understand it.  Many students have even majored in a language and graduated without the ability to speak it.  Sure, give them a written test on the most advanced grammar topics and vocabulary and they pass it with flying colors, but send them to that country and they have no idea what is going on.

As the results of this survey point out, we should focus not so much on studying a language, but on the practical reasons of being able to speak the new language.  As we always advise prospective students, make sure that you understand your reasons for learning the language, and find a program that will help you accomplish those goals.

Let's say you simply want to go on vacation to the Yucatan Peninsula and hit the beaches in Mexico.  A conversation course geared towards travel where you learn how to speak in the present tense about things you like to do for fun, food, and transportation would be much better for you than a class that dives into 20 different tenses and teaches you vocabulary that you will on use on a college campus.

This story simply illustrates the main point of practicality.  When you are looking for a program, teacher, or school to help you learn Spanish, make sure that you will accomplish your goals.  Focus more on your objectives and think of questions you can ask your prospective teacher to ensure that this person will help you get there.  For most people that study Spanish, the end goal should be on becoming fluent and being able to speak and understand the spoken language rather than being able to clearly define the difference between the conditional and past-perfect subjunctive tenses.

The Language School focuses on helping our students become fluent in Spanish, and has a variety of Spanish Programs designed for the traveler and the professional.  As you evaluate programs to help you become fluent in Spanish, make sure you understand the options and choose the place that will help you accomplish your goals in the quickest amount of time possible.

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