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Learning a language takes dedication, motivation, practice, practice and a bit more practice. For an academy which runs through the academic year of September through to June or July this can prove problematic. Why? Because your students take a break at summer and might not be continuing to practice the language, taking them a few steps back in their language development. To tackle this problem you need to implement a strong learning methodology in your academy, and one thing that can complement it is online learning; something your students can do from anywhere, at any time and without having to be in the classroom.

Online learning enables your students to continue practicing in between classroom or blended courses

“So what will you do to continue practicing the language during the summer break?”, this is a question many teachers will ask their students when the academic year ends in June or July. However, you can provide them with tools to continue their learning, enabling them study or revise at their own pace; a learning methodology that will help them maintain their level of a language throughout the break.

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How online learning can strengthen and refresh your students’ language memory

#1 Learning methodology: linguistic immersion

Through online learning a student can access real life, immersive content such as videos, listening, games, activities, real life texts such as magazines and other exercises. Making the learning structured, in a real context, with visual multimedia content, the student immerses themself into a complete learning environment, using the language, interacting with and participating in dialogues which they might experience in real life when experiencing the language.

#2 Social learning and conversation groups

One thing with students really miss when not studying in the face to face classroom is speaking and conversing in the language they are learning. Over the summer break they can lose their confidence, and this is where online learning can really help them. Key to almost any efficient learning methodology is to speak, speak, speak in the language you want to master; practice makes perfect! Online learning platforms offer conversation groups for real time speaking practice, and message boards and forums for peer support and social learning.

#3 Voice recognition technology for perfecting pronunciation

One area which students often find problematic when learning a foreign language is pronunciation, especially if the language is quite different to their own in terms of phonetics. If we take English as an example, the spelling of some words is quite different to their pronunciation, and it is only through repetition and practice that a student can feel confident that they will be understood.

In the summer break the student will not have access to a teacher, and will probably not have access to native speakers, so taking advantage of voice recognition technology can help them practice pronunciation in the meantime. This technology is available on most comprehensive online learning platforms. The student’s pronunciation is assessed throughout the course with this technology, and a well thought out online learning methodology will certainly include feedback on “chunks” of pronunciation as well as individual sounds and syllables. “Chunks” of pronunciation is for example, connected speech, which is all important in sounding more natural in speaking another language. The student should be able to compare their pronunciation to that of a native speaker too.

#4 Different online learning courses for different needs

Any good learning methodology is student centered, focusing on exactly what they need. Your students may all have different requirements and may want or need to work on different areas, skills or even different CEFR levels. In one class you could have a few students strengthening or refreshing the level they studied before, a few more studying the first sub-level of the next CEFR level, and others specializing in maybe one topic, for example business or tourism. All of this is possible if you employ a good online learning platform.

Students need support and encouragement when studying a language, but more importantly they need to be able to practice it confidently and feel independent in their learning. A break in studying, be it over the summer or any other time, can lead to a student falling behind in skills development or even losing the skills they had so worked to hard to achieve. Online learning can reinforce and strengthen skills when a student is not able to attend face to face classes, and reinforce any well thought out learning methodology.

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