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EDITORIAL: Conversation Is Working Survey shows conversation has higher benefits Posted by Tramel Woodard on November 16, 2014 There are numerous reasons why students come to our academy for English instruction. By far, the largest numbers of students are grade school students who wish to improve their speaking abilities. However, we are seeing a growing number of students who are adults with non-academic reasons for learning English.

Some are housewives learning for the sake of their children, while others are executives hoping to improve their chances for promotion at the office. While Chinese grade school students supplement English classes with both homework and schoolteachers, many adult students only have one or two hours per week to study with a private English instructor.

With such a short amount of time to study, many adults become frustrated when they haven't made much progress past a few sentences. Many are used to a rigid system of reviewing grammar and how to pronounce each letter before they dare to talk. Unfortunately, with only two or three hours per week, it won't be until their 10th lesson before they are able to actively participate. It will take another couple of months before they began to express themselves on their own.

Conversation is the key to learning a new language. However, we are clearly not the first institution that bases learning on conversation. What makes us different?

At Woodard, we have created a system of conversation that allows our students to improve after their first lesson. First, conversation must be consistent. The topics that students discuss must remain clear, focused and repetitive. Students whose hobbies include golfing must be completely engaged in the conversation of golf, while introducing new vocabulary and phrases within the context of golfing.

Secondly, students need to be questioned repeatedly. Asking students questions allows them to firmly use their newly discovered vocabulary and phrasing before they forget it.

Lastly, students must be encouraged to branch out to similar topics. Once the student has mastered the topic of golf, why not move onto tennis, or similar interests? Once students are comfortable with a topic, idea or even the location of the topic, they are ready to embrace similar ideas that will be easy to understand. Speaking to a student who likes cooking about holidays allows them to speak about food within the context of visiting and interacting with others. Relation in this sense is the key.

Are we doing anything much different than other centers that focus on English? Hardly. Our results rely in the instructor's ability to encourage development of the student's skill and when to progress to the next phase of their learning. Great teaching is more about methodology than content. This is the reason many students learn other subjects faster than others. The approach is what counts.

Here at Woodard, our approach towards each student is what matters. Using our proprietary methods, we then cater the entire learning experience towards each student learning as quickly and enjoyably as possible. It is because of this our students realize their fullest potential.


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