by Kelly Reed
Knowing the language of the places that we visit has a lot of benefits. First and foremost is the ease in communicating with the locals. Yes, English is the universal language, but we cannot expect the people in the countryside to know English really well. If we really want to really immerse ourselves in the local culture, then we need to get off our high horses and learn to speak the way the locals do.
The same is true for the foreigners who visit our localities. Because of this, many of them choose to get lessons on the local language. The goal is for them to be able to speak it in everyday conversations. If you happen to be among those tasked to teach them, there are few things that you must bear in mind to make learning a lot easier for them.
Let's all be frank here; we've all been students once so we all still remember how much we hated sitting in classes where the teachers were so boring they just read off their notes or books. Your foreign students, especially if they are still youngsters, will experience the same if you go all rigid and academic around them. As a good language teacher, you should do something to make each session more interesting for your learners.
One good way to add color to an otherwise rigid and dull session is to do role plays. Imagine real-life situations where speaking is really needed such as when the learners are buying a special kind of drink or are trying to ask for directions from locals. Teach them the right words to say and then let them act it out. By doing this, they will not only learn the words of the language but also the way that they are delivered.
When you see that you students are already picking up on some lines, give them all the opportunity to speak the language. Expose them to actual people and situations that will really force them to use what they learn. Experience, after all, is the best teacher.
When you are in session, you can impose local-language-only policies. You can take them on short tours around town. You will be there to guide them and somehow ensure their safety, but you let them do the talking.
If they stay long in your place, their knowledge of the language can take them a long way. Needless to say, their mastery of the language makes it a lot easier for them to talk to people - from police officers, government, and even legal institutions such as Groth Law Firm - whenever they need assistance. English speaking skills are practically useful when legal stuff is involved, since the issue has to be precisely identified if a proper solution is to be formulated.
Sociologists say that language is the main tool for enculturation. But language is also a product of culture. As such, it reflects a lot of cultural realities. Hence, anyone who wishes to learn the language in full must also understand the culture that uses it. You can have your students read stories or watch movies in your language.
Teaching a language is not easy, but it's not that difficult either. You just have to make sure that your approach is engaging and that you always give a lot of opportunities for application to help solidify learning. Finally, you shouldn't leave out your culture.
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