Every learning opportunity is an adventure. When learning involves a foreign language, the adventure is usually the long-term sort. For most language learners, mastery occurs after a long period of study and requires constant exposure. Aside from formal language instruction, encouraging language learning at home and in school can strengthen the learning process and promote better grasp of concepts.
Here are some of the ways by which learning is encouraged in both settings.
Increasing comprehension of reading materials
Students can make better connections between concepts and words in the new language if they are allowed to examine texts more closely. For example, if there is a foreign language text that is used in an exercise, comprehension and vocabulary learning will be further facilitated by a few additional strategies. If, for instance the text tells a story, the teacher can encourage students to predict what happens next. The students may also be instructed to ask questions with regard to the story or suggest twists and turns in the plot.
At home, family members can supplement the lessons done in school by asking the student to share the contents of the foreign text studied that day. They can also contribute to strengthening vocabulary lessons by asking the student to explain the meanings of certain words or phrases found in the reading material. It would be a great idea if members of the household would regularly ask the language student to write snippets of the language being studied and explain to them what these snippets means in the native tongue.
Providing constructive feedback and reinforcement
Teachers must bear in mind that constructive criticism, when given at the right time and the right manner can boost the learning process. There will definitely be errors and corrections need to be made. When they are given constructively they can be very helpful. Studies have shown that too much error correction at the early stages may cause a “short circuit” in the learning process. There are volumes upon volumes of research on the matter and the conclusions do not always agree.
Teachers must be abreast with the results of studies and determine what the pros and cons of feedback and error correction are, and how applicable the study findings are to their own situation. There are so many practices being used in encouraging better performance from students. It is imperative for teachers to determine which ones are successful. Teachers also need to coordinate with parents with regard to promising methods of encouraging good performance in students.
Enhancing understanding of content
There are various strategies that are employed by educators in enhancing understanding of content, and these may be applied in language learning as well. These include teaching metacognitive skills, using teaching-learning tools, providing ample opportunities for practice, systemic student assessment to determine the student’s progress, and staff development.
There is not one absolute way to educate people who are learning a new language. But if the curriculum is well structured and balanced, it would not be difficult for schools to boost language learning amongst students. If teachers actively involve the household, the learning process can be enriched and perhaps be made more relevant.