TEACHING BLOG

12. Learning languages for enjoyment or preparing for exams: Where is the balance?

We have heard it a million times or more, “I´m studying English to get the B1 level exam”, the level is not of importance, the fact is a large number of our students are studying English because they need a qualification in order to move on and get a job or study abroad. But the issue is, can we study a language if in fact we are not interested in the language itself? Also, is it possible to study exclusively for an exam and expect to get to that level? This post is going to discuss what we need to do to motivate our students and guide them towards passing the necessary exams.

It is of course far easier to learn a language if in fact you are interested in it. This is because of the time you will dedicate to learning it and that with enjoyment, things are far easier to learn. Language learning is not s scientific formula, everyone learns in their own way. The trick is to find YOUR way and do it. Languages are a thing that you learn through their use, it is very difficult to cram vocabulary and grammar structures, and then hope to be fluent in that language or even pass an exam with ease. If you can do this then good for you but for us mortals it is almost impossible. What we need to do is fit language into our day to day lives, use it as much as we possibly can and in all its forms (speaking, listening, reading and writing). For the active parts of language (speaking and writing) we need to dedicate time to practise them, actively find opportunities to use them but why not enjoy yourself along the way. Do it with friends or try to meet new people with this similar interest. For the passive parts (reading an listening) students can learn through immersion and usethis can be in any way that we enjoy (films, stories, news, etc… for more information see 11. Time Saving Speaking – activities with little or no preparation needed). The thing that all language learning has in common is time, we need to dedicate time to the process of learning and try to enjoy it. Languages are so vast that we cannot find a measurable amount of information to study in the traditional (memorization) way. We need to be flexible and use different skills to be able to communicate.

What I wanted to get across in this post is one point, a point that you need to communicate with your students. To learn a language we need to find a way to use it and to enjoy it. Learning comes first, and after we can prepare for exams. To be able to pass an exam we need the base level to be able to achieve it, then the next step is just exam technique. The sad side of it is if you already have a negative opinion of languages, you need to change that. Find a way of being motivated and that way, we will all come out as winners. This is the message that we need to help our students understand! Everyone is capable of learning a language, we just need to find the key that opens the door to our success.

FREE ACTIVITIES IN PDF FORMAT

cambridge

cambridge-exams-speaking

This PDF is for teachers. It contains some specific activities to help with the speaking exam at all levels. The activities are fun and easy to prepare.

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