Frequently Asked Questions
– Learning a foreign language is difficult, isn’t it?
It depends. Some people are better at Science, some people are better at Languages. We all are different and our learning capacities and styles are also different. That’s why we emphasize the importance of individual lessons.
– Does a person who speaks more than one language differ from a person who speaks only one language?
Yes, definitely. The study shows that the knowledge of languages influences the flexibility of our brain and our cognitive abilities.
– I already speak one foreign language. Can I learn another one?
Learning second or third language is generally easier than learning the first one.
– Won’t the languages be “mixed” in my head?
Indeed, languages are not stored in separate “boxes” in the mind, but most people can effectively control their languages and actively inhibit the use of the language they do not need at the time.
– Can an English native person learn any language with equal ease?
No, it is easier to learn languages which are typologically closer, so for an English native speaker Dutch and German will be easier than Russian or Arabic.
– How soon I will learn a language?
It depends on what is understood by “learn”. The study shows that a person with a very limited vocabulary consisting of only 2000 defining words can already successfully communicate with native speakers (see Tim Doner, a teenage “polyglot”).
In general it takes somewhat around 2 months (studying 2 hours twice a week) to move from 0 to level A1. Another 2-3 months to move to level A2. The acquisition of the new language goes fast in the beginning, but then it slows down.
– Why don’t I just learn those 2000 vocabulary defining words then?
Because in that case you will sound like “Peter want George go store”. You will be understood, but you will make mistakes that might be very irritating to a native speaker and that might prevent you from being understood by a non-native speaker. Unless you are planning on learning a language just to become the next “TV-polyglot”, we do not advise this.
– Tell me about your teaching method. How is it different from other methods?
12 years ago I defended a dissertation about language learning. In my dissertation I stipulated that language learning would be the most effective if students were learning ‘communication patterns’, as I called them. At that time it was an entirely new approach to language learning. Under ‘communication patterns’ I understand collocations and phrases that we use in everyday life when talking about a particular subject. During my career as a teacher I have noticed that memorizing words is not a very effective learning method, especially because afterwards the student has trouble to connect those individual words in a sentence.
My students learn collocations and phrases and practice them in the mock conversations. They tend to remember those phrases better and learn faster than other students, because I place those phrases into the context and create a situation that invokes their emotions.
This method I am using in my teaching ever since. The success of my students in the (international) language exams serves as a proof of the effectiveness of my method.
– I hate grammar. Do I have to study it?
Adult language learners require a certain degree of structure to shape their learning. They need to understand why we say it like this and not like that. So, some grammar is necessary for your understanding of the language.
– I have seen an ad ‘Learn English/French/Hindu in 3 months/2 weeks/5 days’. Can you use this method to teach me?
Unfortunately, most of those methods are just scams. If you are lucky, they will have no influence on your language abilities whatsoever; if you are not, you will acquire some dubious knowledge, which will be very difficult to get rid of.
Language learning is a process. Enjoy it.