When you are running a language training program in your organization, it is unlikely that all your learners will start from the same level of proficiency or have the same goals. Some of your employees might be complete beginners, ready to start learning a language from scratch.
It can be frustrating and difficult for everyone to learn a language. But even more frustrating if the teacher is unable to explain the basics in a language your employees speak. You can probably picture them thinking: “I’m never going to get this”.
Now, what if there was a different approach to teaching a new language when you are a complete beginner? What if the teacher was able to explain the essentials from the start in a more comprehensive way to ease your employees’ journey? Whether they are studying online or face to face, learning a new language as an adult can be intimidating. So having the right approach and support from the start will make or break their learning experience, and your strategic investment.
We had the opportunity to speak to Ella Wardle, one of our 20.000 teachers around the world who has been teaching English to French-speaking professionals for the past 5 years. Ella shares her insights on how to support beginner students throughout their language learning journey as well as the importance of having access to bilingual teachers.
“I am originally from near Manchester, UK where I studied Linguistics and English language. I’ve always been fascinated by how we learn languages and have a deep interest in language acquisition. That’s how I ended up becoming a teacher. A profession I find extremely rewarding. “
“Besides being fluent in English, I also learned French during my 5 years living in Paris (yes, I’ve been in the beginner’s seat too!). Thanks to my second language, I’m now able to teach English not only to intermediate to advanced professionals, but I also support French-speaking learners that are at the beginning stage and need further support to kick-off their learning journey.”
Bilingual teachers, just like Ella, provide the extra comfort and reassurance that beginner learners need.
“I work with many successful professionals from the world’s leading companies which require their employees to learn a new language. Being successful in their work and lives, these professionals still feel vulnerable when learning a language. So enabling that extra support and reassurance during those first steps is key to boost their confidence and motivation.”
How to accelerate the language learning journey for beginners, using bilingual support:
- Tailor approach
Lessons for beginners are and should be addressed in a different way. At this stage, learners don’t have the vocabulary to step into a conversation. This can be intimidating and discouraging. It’s important to start off exploring their needs, what they already know and what needs improvement, ensuring they receive the support needed to address their questions: in English or their mother tongue.
- Predict errors
Not only do our bilingual teachers understand the students’ native language but they also have a good understanding of their background. Have you ever tried to translate a sentence from your mother tongue to a second language? You probably realized that in many cases, words that fit perfectly in your native language might not work well in another one.
Just like Ella, teachers that speak the students’ language can almost predict the words that learners will choose to communicate, allowing them to identify and address those errors from the start.
- Create a positive learning environment
Learning a new language from zero is tricky as it is. Our bilingual teachers can relate to our students and are committed to making beginner learners feel as comfortable as possible during those very first steps.“I always try not to put my students in the spotlight and instead, allow them to learn at their own pace. I make it clear from the beginning that it’s ok to make mistakes. I’ve made tons of mistakes while learning French. In fact, I hope they make errors during my class! That way I can really address their specific needs.”
- Practice makes perfect!
During the lessons, students are encouraged to put what they learned into practice as much as possible. Whether it’s through role-plays or simply discussing the latest news, this approach will encourage to make use of their vocabulary and incorporate new words they’ve never used.“I do a lot of role-plays during my classes to make it as dynamic as possible. I like students to see how they can make use of the language and what they are learning. Whether it’s introducing themselves and what they do, practice speaking up during meetings or negotiating. I tend to lose every time we do negotiations”.
At EF we are committed to making learners, no matter what level they are at, to feel as comfortable as possible during those very first steps of their language learning journey, making our lessons flexible to learn at their own pace with bilingual support in major languages when needed. With 20.000 teachers around the world, we can deliver classes anytime and everywhere. And the best part? No need to plan ahead, as our live lessons are available every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day.