… can be really intensive. And I must admit that I like it. The course is organized by Linguapolis, the institute for languages and communication, and now I’m attending Level 1. My knowledge of English and German can be very helpful sometimes, however it can also be a hindrance because my mind and tongue try to say those things in English or German (which can be very similar to Dutch in some cases).
It’s been just 5 days but I can see that the programme developed by Linguapolis is very sophisticated in terms of instructional design. Not only our instructor is very experienced and hard-working but also the techniques used by her include very important elements that utilize many aspects of linguistic / cognitive capacities of human brain. Among many things these are the points that I deem very important during the process (not only in language learning but for other kinds of learning, too):
- People are generally more talented (linguistically) than they think. Force them to grasp the meaning from the cues embedded in the environment and the body language.
- Explicit rules are out of fashion. Just give people what they want: the language they can use to describe something and ask some questions. Grammar comes much later, first practice, then practice and only after that theory. Just a little bit.
- People get bored easily. Especially when their age are between 17 and 55. But for intensive training you need long lessons. How to prevent distraction and keep concentration? Make big changes.
- People like games. And competition. And trivias. Use teamwork. Create groups and let them compete by answering trivias in Dutch. And let the fun begin! 😉
- Human brain is very good with pattern recognition and completion. So first provide a linguistic pattern completely. Then gradually fade out the signal. And let the students find the missing pieces. Yes, this really works in practice.
- People like to help each other. Let the students help each other. Let them more than want to help each other. This works, too.
And now some demographic and statistical info about my class: 15 people from all of the continents except Australia. My classmates are from Congo, Poland, China, Italy, USA, North Ireland, Czech Republic, Greece, Peru, Iran, Iraq, Romania, Uzbekistan, and Senegal. Ages vary between 17 and 55. We have a pilot in the class (yes, she is a real pilot, those who fly big jets) along with engineers, teachers, musicians, students, etc. I’m glad that most of the are highly motivated, intelligent, speak 2 languages at least and ready to help each other.
It is also a great experience to be at the city campus of University of Antwerp which has a very old and grand architecture along with modern buildings full of art. A surprising fact for me was that the author of the famous Drupal content management system, Dries Buytaert is from the computer science department of the University of Antwerp.
Here are some more photos from University of Antwerp, Linguapolis and on my way to my Dutch course: