This is how we do it remotely
These are tough times. But they are nothing compared to what mankind has already gone through and survived. Today we know why people get ill. We can diagnose the malady and prescribe drugs to counter the effects of such illnesses. We are also able to stay confined in our homes even as we continue to work, interact with friends, family, co-workers, all of it across enormous distances. We as teachers and trainers can continue to work with those of our trainees who wish to maintain their momentum, whether it is to improve language, or technical skills.
Here are a few tools. Google came up with “Hangouts”, which I have been using rather successfully to hold tele-training sessions. Then there’s “Whereby”, an online conference app like Hangouts, and there's “Zoom”, which I’ve so far used only socially, but which is fully adapted to conducting remote classrooms as well. The idea is not only to keep but also to drive momentum, with whatever tool is efficient and right for you. It’s more essential than ever to find or make time to continue learning. Apart from having training sessions with a homo sapiens, here are some other activities:
Read: there’s probably nothing better and easier than picking up a book on your favourite topic and reading it. It could be a detective story, it could be a magazine on gardening, it could be a cookbook. What is important is making sure that you begin or continue to read as regularly as possible in the language you are learning.The Oxford Readers series comes to mind. It’s a series of novels from beginner to pre-intermediate to intermediate to post-intermediate to advanced. Know your level before buying. Ask your teacher to guide you in your choice. Download their PDF catalogue. The books are not thick, therefore they're easy to carry around.
Watch films and series: there are endless possibilities here, with Netflix leading the pack. There’s also the good old DVD. It is advisable to watch a film or a series in your target language, with subtitles in that same language. However, if your level doesn’t allow you to do so, the subtitles can be in your mother tongue, for now.
While you’re watching, you should mentally say the lines at the same time as the character who’s speaking, and when necessary you should stop and rewind the film. Do your best to acquire ready-made expressions. You don’t have to learn how to construct a phrase such as “I haven’t got the slightest idea”. Just learn what it means and how it’s pronounced. Understanding its grammar is something that will come later. For now, be the best sponge you can be. After all, this is how children learn to speak. Let’s be like children.
Homework: if you have kids, help them with their English homework as often as possible. Robert Half has said that “When one teaches, two learn”. If you can teach it or transfer it, you know it.
Choose a homepage for your personal laptop browser (your work laptop won’t let you do this) but let it be an English language website such as euronews.com, france24.com, edition.cnn, or bbc.om/news/business or any other English language site. The idea is to see and read your target language every time you open your browser.
Remote lessons: this is where homo sapiens comes in. Continue your lessons remotely with your trainer, using one of the conferencing tools I mentioned above. It’s awfully easy and depends only on when you’re free, therefore the duration can vary from a half hour to an hour to an hour and a half. If your homo sapiens trainer is me, the procedure is as follows:
Make an appointment at this link: calendly.com/retjoun on a day and at a time that are convenient for you. You will receive confirmation in your e-mail box immediately. Before the session, think about what you want to share, talk about, or ask your trainer. Make notes if necessary. Access the session (our e-classroom) here: whereby.com/ret's-english-training. I will be waiting for you there, ready with my own questions and notes.
During the session do not reply only with “yes” and “no”. Elaborate on your answers or questions. This is the primordial soup trainers thrive on to be able to help you. Engage and challenge your trainer.
After the session, do whatever work the trainer suggests. And if you have time, do some more. Ask questions by e-mail if there are things you didn’t or don’t understand. One hour or an hour and half per week of language lessons is not enough, you need to put in extra work, with or without the help of your teacher, if you want to succeed in your endeavour toward fluency.
Make another appointment with your trainer, at a day and time that are convenient for you.
Repeat the procedure. Lesson after lesson, film after film, book after book, like when you listen to your favourite album on repeat, and in the end you know the lyrics by heart as well as how to pronounce them. Check out the following tools: