“Less chalk, more talk”
Even with today”s sophisticated grammatical structures and teaching methods, most people still acquire a working experience of a foreign language by using it in everyday situations like shopping, asking directions or getting the car repaired. Necessity is the best teacher of all.
Visit your local (Spanish) market and watch the traders from Africa and other parts of the world switching between languages without their sales patter missing a beat, and you”ll see this for yourself. In other words, we’ve all got what it takes to pick up a working knowledge of another language. The question is how do we bridge the gap between the will and the way?
This is where the teaching approach makes a world of difference. A teacher who puts effective communication before grammatical perfection will help students to express themselves naturally and with confidence. Teaching materials are based on relevant topics and the realistic situations that arise from them.
In this “communicate first” approach, the teacher is simply a facilitator, literally one who makes learning easy. He or she introduces the language in a clear context and checks students” understanding. Good teachers also make learning fun, with role-playing, audio visual materials and conversation. Grammar isn’t ignored, but it”s taught as part of the relevant situations rather than as tables to be memorized.
It’s clear that this natural way of acquiring second languages has worked for thousands of years. There are just two vital ingredients: the student, whether trader or traveler, holidaymaker or home seeker, must have the will, and a good tutor will show them the way. The rest is history!
—Eduardo Fernández Lalanne