Real life learning
As in many other service industries, the happy customer is the end goal of language travel (and successful language acquisition of course) and therefore constantly improving programmes, adding new courses, such as English and watersports in Malta (page 45), or improving school facilities is a typical activity in the industry. Of course, this is necessary and advisable, but at what point does the client realise that they too have to take responsibility for learning a language? At what point can they stop blaming the lack of study facilities, the bad food or the boring social activities for thwarting their progress?
It was while editing our article on Online learning that this thought crossed my mind. “Students who have the self-discipline required to study online” do well with this particular teaching technology, apparently. As a result, some language schools now offer online learning to their students as an add-on (pages 22-23).
This comment got me thinking about self-discipline. The summer vacation market populated by teenagers for the large part seems to accept as a rule that interactivity and innovation means a greater chance of classroom success. As a result, staging a fashion show or interviewing locals are examples of dynamic programming employed at language schools (pages 32-40). While we all need encouragement to excel, there has to be a balance between providing an enthusiastic backdrop for learning and students making an effort themselves. To keep up with the competition, language schools have to provide excellent facilities, teachers and welfare provision. But in some cases, could students be accused of being too passive towards education, expecting a school to impress them and make them learn?
A recent report in a German consumer magazine provided interesting reading and made good suggestions about where various Spanish language schools that were roadtested could improve: desks in a bedroom, fresher food, lessons that seemed to be more spontaneous, more information about how language level assessment worked (page 8). But despite shortcomings of the schools, all the “mystery shoppers” that took part in the consumer survey agreed that language travel was the best way to learn a language, mainly because it blended study with relaxation and allowed an opportunity to practise a language in real life. And that’s where the self-motivation has to come into play.