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Interact with your teachers and ask them questions. You can get “lectures” for free on Youtube (example: hundreds of thousands of hours of French!)

| 14 comments | Category: particular languages

This week, I’ll take a break from updating you on my Arabic status (although, apart from my usual daily work I’m certainly not taking a break from learning the language!) and share three posts in or about French with you.

First, in today’s post, I’ll share something that those of you following my Facebook page, twitter or Google plus would have seen already.

I’d very simply like to point you to this Youtube channel. It has an insane 224,000+ videos with full course materials from absolute beginners to advanced French, with many videos (such as the one embedded above) being several hours long (almost nine hours for this single one embedded above!!)

Unless you have seventeen lifetimes to spare, it’s not realistic to go through the entire channel, but you will likely find something discussing a particular difficulty with the language you may be having.

Why pay a lecturer when you can get it for free? Teachers should be language facilitators

One reason I want to share this is to make a point about how language education is changing, especially when I discuss later how I feel students and teachers should be working together (since I’m working with teachers several hours a day right now for my Arabic).

I think the potential of learning online from what most consider something that you must go to classes for, was recently excellently demonstrated by Scott Young, as he successfully learned MIT’s Computer Science four year course in one year without actually going to MIT.

If it’s a generic course material style learning environment, then getting a private lesson is a waste of money. And if it’s in a classroom environment, then it’s still hard to see why you have to even physically be there. In this day and age more material is being offered completely for free that you can access from home, and this Youtube channel is an excellent example of that.

(If you know of similar channels and resources for other languages, feel free to leave them in the comments. If I find others, I’ll be sure to share it on my Facebook page!)

If your teacher is doing all of the talking, with all students just sitting and listening, then in my view they are a bad language teacher (that’s what lecturers are for).

A teacher should act as a language facilitator - encouraging you and the classroom to speak, and use the language, correcting the students, and giving them scenarios where they can start using their language in some way, or at least getting them to do exercises during the class. If your classroom is nearly entirely passive, with the teacher doing all the work, then it might as well be on Youtube and you could save yourself a lot of time and money, and pick lessons more appropriate to your level rather than go generic.

So check out a course like this online, and take advantage of your time with a human being teaching you the language to ask them about specific issues causing you difficulty, and most importantly, to speak with them and get some real practice in!

Let me know your thoughts on this, and share your similar resources for non-French languages, in the comments below! Two more posts/videos in or about French coming up this week!

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  • http://niel.delarouviere.com NielDLR

    Yeah, found that channel the other day. Was blown away by all the videos. 224,000+ videos. That is just absurd, but lucky for my French learning.

    I think the digital age has ushered in a new era of language learning possibilities. You have so many free resources available. Language teaching is quite an interesting area of research itself. A lot of teaching methodologies has moved towards task-based learning or communicative language teaching, which exactly as you describe, where teachers language is seen as act of communication and that should be the primary goal.

    Autonomy is also another big tenant in language teaching, where the teacher actually has to help promote it. A good classroom these days would have to facilitate autonomy. A language facilitator is a good description. The move towards a student-centred classroom, as is happening, does have its problems, especially in big classrooms, where the teacher has facilitate and keep track of a lot of students.

    In any case, I agree. A good teacher should act as a guide and facilitator.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Very well said. Promoting autonomy is essential. Teachers could also focus on teaching us how to learn, rather than simply teaching us facts.

      • sarahmchia

        I agree. I’ve found that most people are amazed at my level on Spanish ability after they’ve found out that I’ve taught myself with various resources, many from my local library and/or the internet. But I believe strongly in knowing how to learn — one of the key reasons I homeschool my children… don’t worry they have plenty of social interaction through extracurricular activities. :) Our schools simply don’t teach how to learn. They teach the “what” and rarely the “how,” “why,” and “what if…”

  • Sam

    Yeah I actually asked for a refund from an Italian cooking course for the same reason, we just watched someone do stuff for a few hours. 20 years ago maybe that was valuable, but then with cookbooks, cooking tv shows, and now youtube in particular, it makes that completely worthless.

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Precisely. A cooking instructor would be better served to watch over you and correct you as you are making mistakes. This is what a truly good teacher involves in any field.

  • http://howlearnspanish.com/ Andrew

    That’s amazing, I’m sure I’ve got some followers/readers who are either learning French or interested in doing so at some point so I tweeted it, thanks Benny.

    Cheers,
    Andrew

  • http://twitter.com/GetIntoEnglish David Sweetnam

    This is pretty much the same as what most language schools I’ve dealt with have been saying. It’s good to know the ‘traditional’ and new bloggers are on the same page.

    Big thanks for the French tips – this is a language I need to un-rust! :)

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      If this is “traditional” language schooling, then why is it so rare until recently? Most traditional teaching is that students shut up and let the teachers lecture them about grammar and vocabulary.

      Perhaps you mean modern language schools.

      • http://twitter.com/GetIntoEnglish David Sweetnam

        Yeah, I’ll accept that.

        Most language schools these days advertise that they believe in the ‘communicative approach’ though I guess how each teacher interprets that might differ.

  • http://www.facebook.com/moustafa.habib.10 Moustafa Habib

    I like this topic
    and you blog is very useful for me
    keep going you’re the man ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/mlauvige Muriel Lauvige

    Very happy to read this post, I completely agree and that’s why I see myself as a language coach and not teacher; your personal trainer does not do the push up for you, same for languages, but isn’t it amazing how you still have to sit for hours LISTENING to a teacher. Well, you’ll be happy to learn than when I teach French I do 15% of the talking and mainly questions. Good luck with your Arabic and thanks for all the tips and resources on language learning!

    • http://www.fluentin3months.com/ Benny Lewis

      Glad to hear it, keep up the good work coach! ;)

  • http://parispassionnee.tumblr.com Anna

    This actually got me thinking that solving the problem of the lack of effectiveness of many (most) language classes may actually be simpler than it seems. Most are set up so that you learn in class (usually by the teacher lecturing) and then reinforce through homework. Just think of what would happen if this were switched: students would be assigned to read the text (and/or do an audio lesson, even better) at home to learn the concept, do a few exercises to nail it down and classroom time could be used to clarify any confusion and for practice with someone who can correct you. Learning a language on my own has taught me that classes waste a lot of time on course material style things, as you said, which anyone who’s literate ought to be able to work out themselves. I don’t need to pay a bunch of money to sit in a class to have someone tell me that “le” is masculine, “la” is feminine, and “les” is plural.

    One of the reasons more classes aren’t set up this way is a problem I think is endemic to all education: teachers assume students won’t do the work, which they often don’t, but instead of being strict and creating real consequences for not studying they give in and conduct the class using the assumption that class time will probably be their students’ only encounter with the subject. The bad students get catered to but don’t care anyway, the motivated students get frustrated when they have to sit through long lectures on simple concepts so the kid who barely pays attention gets it, and those in the middle sort of lapse into mediocrity as they never experience having someone challenge them to do what they’re capable of. I think this is especially a problem in language education as many teachers are focused on trying to make classes less intimidating. They seem to have bought into the notion that some people just don’t have “the gift” for languages and give out A’s for effort. I’ve had “Your tests/essays were shit” lectures before in classes in other disciplines when professors were disappointed (sometimes using gentler language, sometimes not) but never in a language class. And anyone who’s taken music lessons knows that if you don’t practice you should expect to hear about it in your lesson (if not you should get your money back). It ought to be the same in language classes.

  • Aydee

    I’m learning German and searched “learn German” on youtube and find quite a few channels with helpful videos (one actually has about 22, 6-7 minute lessons that I’m getting into (especially since I need to hear the language as opposed to trying to pronounce from a book explanation). I’m finding that learning it on my own is more effective than when I was learning Spanish and Japanese in a class setting. Plus I have the advantage of knowing a couple German natives and friends who know the language and who are willing to help with grammer when I need it.