If you don’t speak your students’ language you have two options 1) “Get by” or 2) “Get Fluent!”
You can “get by” with just gestures, picture cards etc. But … it will cause many, many misunderstandings and your students will not nearly progress as far.
Or the alternative is to “Get fluent.”
You already have a goal (the phrases you need to use in class) and the motivation (to make you a better teacher!) so if you are in country for more than 2 months, now is the time to take the bull by the horns and get fluent yourself! 🙂
Here’s how we’ll do it …
I’m going to start another series of posts on Getting Fluent Quickly just like I did with the Start your own school
Don’t worry, I’ll also tie in each one to some super teaching tips to really help with your classes.
Some things I hope to cover:
- Setting Goals
- Getting the mind set right
- “Cheating” tips the pros use
- Unknown advantages of getting fluent
- Common “myths” about getting fluent (e.g. the time it takes or what age is “best”- it’s probably not what you think!)
- Maybe a few interviews
Plus of course I’m sure lots of other things will crop up along the way.
So the first thing to get out of the way is…
What’s your definition of “fluent”?
As most of you know, I spend most of the year travelling and working in many different countries. My world is a world of language learners, people who have learnt a language in order to do something amazing in a different culture. It’s the means to an end, not the end in itself.
So, unlike the rest of the blog, this particular series will be written from modern *learners* point of view, not an academic or teaching point of view.
Hence the definition we’ll use is modern learner’s definition as being *practically* fluent i.e.
You can conduct your professional and private life without spoken language being a hinderance at all.
You can understand just about all of what goes on around you and you can express anything you wish in the target language.
Does that sound cool?
It doesn’t mean knowing *everything* in the foreign language. It means knowing what is important to *you*.
At Uni I could chat all day in French about Quantum Mechanics or open heart surgery (long story!) but ask me about 17th century philosophy in French and I’d have no idea!!!
But then again, I’ve got no idea about 17th century philosophy in English! 🙂
( It also doesn’t mean being perfect. Dude, just look at all the mistakes in this post, but I think you can say I’m just about a fluent English speaker. 😉 )
This isn’t “cheating”, it’s being smart.
You only have 70-80 years on the planet and there are waaaayy more difficult things we have to learn than languages.
So if you find yourself constantly not having enough time, this will help you enormously.
How long does it take?
This is the sort of level of fluency that you can achieve in just a few months.
Yep months, not years or decades. If you work smart! 🙂
(Ninja Tip: Notice no use of the word “study” or work “hard” in there 🙂 )
Don’t believe me?
Tim Ferriss shows how it takes 3 months.
Benny Lewis has done many languages in 3 months each.
Michel Thomas said 3 days.
And I see people literally everyday who have done this.
(Ninja Tip 2: If you want to add in writing, add an extra few months, depending on the language. Using the tools I’ll show in the series I was basically fluent in Japanese in 3 -4 months, but the kanji took another 9!!)
If you wanna join the cool kids’ club, we’d love to have you come along for the ride! 🙂
P.S. Ninja Teaching Tip: How does this definition of fluency fit in with your curriculum and lesson plans? Or maybe you have a different goal in mind? Does each part of each lesson help the kids progress towards this goal? Are there any ways you could trim or change your lessons to get there more quickly?
P.S. If you have any questions or things you’d like to see covered in this series, do let me know in the comments. Similarly if you think I’m wasting time doing this and want me to just get back to the teaching stuff, do let me know in the comments too! 🙂