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21 grudnia 2017

NR 2 (Grudzień 2017)

An interview
Colin Rose about learning, education and results

You are a creator of Accelerated Learning, which is a method of fast learning, that assumes assimilation of language in a way as close to the natural as possible. What does it mean in practice?

I have developed 2 main projects.

One has been teaching students how to be better learners – learning how to learn effectively. When the world is changing so fast the ability to learn and re–learn throughout life is a fundamental skill. But in schools we mostly teach subjects – not skills. When the Internet is so rich with free information that seems to me to be a wrong emphasis. They need to know how to assess that information and maybe create something new from it.

The second project has been to apply what we have learned from brain research over the last 20 years to learning languages – in the case of Poland, learning English.

You learn the basics of your native language in the 24 months between about 16 months old to 40 months old. But without any formal instructions whatsoever. That astonishing success is achieved through games, stories and when your parents/an adult describe what is happening as it actually happens – i.e. so you get a physical and visual association to the words you are hearing. For example – “it’s raining, so let’s put on your coat”. Synchronizing audio, visual and physical input into the brain. That way you are more absorbing language than consciously learning it.

So our language courses reproduce these elements. There is an interesting story where every single sentence is illustrated with a photograph – in total thousands of ‘visual clues’ to help you develop or absorb vocabulary in a natural way.

We then invite you to engage in activities and games that ‘activate’ the vocabulary – and grammar points you have just seen and heard. It’s in–depth, emersion, multi–sensory learning.

We DON’T start with grammar. We point out patterns – e.g. this is how we make the future tense – after you have already seen it and used it. So a lot of the learning is unconscious.

To whom is this method addressed? Who may benefit from it – kids, adults, absolute beginners at certain language?

The language schools we have in Poland teach adults English – from absolute beginner to a high level of fluency.

But we started in England teaching French, German and Spanish to 12–16 year olds. In short, anyone can benefit.

By creating your method, you have been using Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory. How can this be helpful in learning a foreign language?

I think that Multiple Intelligence Theory is a good description of how we are all intelligent, but in different ways. There are some 8 forms of intelligence – and it makes sense of our differences. For example, a professional footballer or a ballet dancer has more physical intelligence than me. And I might have more mathematical logical intelligence than a painter – but she might have more visual intelligence than me. 

You learn easily, quickly and well when you can use your strongest intelligences. So we have devised activities in the language courses that allow you to learn with all 8 intelligences and a mixture of them. We are catering to your natural learning preferences – which is another reason why it’s fast and far less stressful.

Your method is advertised as very quick. How long should it take to a student to learn a new language, both written and spoken? 

Because we teach adults – often in business – we focus on communication. Being able to understand and participate in a social and business context. With us, an adult can go from zero to a foundation of good communication in 6–8 months. That’s based on only a once a week class that supports their on–line learning. 

Significant proficiency takes about 12–15 months. The point at which you would be comfortable and fluent in any business or social situation. And be able to handle normal written communication – emails, business memos and reports. We concentrate less on enabling people to write an academic essay.

But one point to make is that most learners don’t need to progress much beyond the initial 6–8 months. That period is enough for 90% of our clients – because to communicate and understand well, one doesn’t need all the detailed nuances of grammar. As a result, the drop–out rate on our courses is astonishingly low. About 3% versus an industry average of over 60%!

Students using your method learn mostly via online platform and additionally they have 60–minute–long lesson with a personal language trainer once a week. Is it really enough to learn all the necessary word...

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