Language schools

Steve K   Monday, August 02, 2004, 15:08 GMT
Antimoon's message is that a school is a poor place to learn a language. For motivated and experienced language learners this is probably true, for all the reasons explained on the antimoon site.

What about average learners, unmotivated learners, unskilled learners? What should they do? Can these people learn fluency at school?

Why do the vast majority of learners go to traditional language school at great expense, and spend so much time there when there are better options available, especially for English, as pointed out on the antimoon site?
Konrad Valentin   Monday, August 02, 2004, 17:51 GMT
In answer to your last question, I'd say that it's usually just so that they can get a visa and disappear.
michael   Monday, August 02, 2004, 18:35 GMT
average, unmotivated, and unskilled learners will not ever reach fluency in school. they must learn a foreign language in the way that they learned their first language: by being immersed in the foreign language fully and forced to speak it in order to get their daily bread (so to speak), either in an immersion program or by living in a country where the target language is spoken.

because one must remember that intelligence, skill, and excellence are all brought about by motivation.
Hythloday   Tuesday, August 03, 2004, 21:19 GMT
I disagree, michael. The immersion technique you mention is known as 'flooding' and learners have been known to react to it in two ways: they either flee or accept. I think there are better ways than this, personally.
michael   Tuesday, August 03, 2004, 22:59 GMT

the "flee or accept" idea that you seem to despise is the principle that drives considerably everything in life. it's called Pavlovian learning and it's the best and only natural way to learn.

if one wants something bad enough, one will push his or her limits to the utmost in order to attain it. otherwise, there's no point in even attempting it.

I don't mean to sound so Darwinian and heartless; it's just the way things are...Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Will to Power by Friedrich Nietzsche, asf.
Steve K   Wednesday, August 04, 2004, 14:08 GMT
Many immigrants here accept the need to learn English in order to get a decent job. They go to government sponsored English classes and never really improve. Other than their period in class, the rest of their lives are lived in Chinese. So even with a strong monetary reason to learn, they are unwilling or unable to let go of their culture of origin in order to penetrate a new culture.
Cultural flexibility seems to me to be a condition for effective language learning.
Can that be taught?
Damian   Friday, August 06, 2004, 10:32 GMT
This may not be exactly the appropriate thread but I am in a hurry so I hope it will do. A precis of an English (UK) newspaper article today 06/08/04:


British students studying abroad would rather go somewhere hot where the locals speak English than struggle with a foreign language in Europe.

A report states that the number of Britons studying in Europe has fallen by over a third over the past 10 years, closely mirroring a sharp and continuing decline in the take-up and study of foreign languages at schools and universities in the UK.

There are now over twice as many European students studying at British universities as there were Britons studying at Continental European universities, mostly in France, Spain and Germany.

This was frustrating the development of a "cosmopolitan and multilingual perspective" among British graduates. This could be seen as a "competitive" disadvantage for the UK within the global economy, but the counter argument is that English has now become the "global language". However, a period of study abroad
using the medium of a foreign language could be regarded as an important inter-cultural learning experience.

Researchers found that British students spending a period abroad had risen considerably, but instead of going to Continental Europe they went to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. All these countries have one thing in common.....they are all Anglophone. In addition, there are also favourable climatic conditions in those countries!

Mmmm.......are we supposed to be part of Europe or what???