The method we have developed at Speak Like A Native is called Guided Language Participation (GLP). We don’t teach in a traditional way because that involves grammar explanations, lists of vocabulary and an idea that children need to know how the language works before they can use it. We follow a model that more closely mirrors the way we all acquire our first language(s).
Every Speak Like A Native session is run by Language Guides, who guide the children through games, activities and tasks in the target language. The children focus on what’s going on and what they are being asked to do. Their motivation is to participate in the chosen activity rather than to learn some new words. However, we still encourage them to use as much of the target language as they can.
All our sessions are based on activities which are meaningful to the children in the room. This motivates and inspires them to take part even though they may not be sure exactly what the Language Guide is telling them to do. And so the children set about decoding the language and take on the role of problem solvers. Context always help, of course. If the Language Guide gets out some Lego, or Twister or pens and paper then the children are halfway to understanding.
To get children to participate we don’t rule out any activity. We prefer to work with their interests and what is available where the session is taking place. School clubs may differ from home ones because of the environment and resources to hand but each has its advantages.
GLP involves a lot of exposure to the target language but without frustration. This means the Language Guides only speak the target language but the children can reply and talk to each other in English and bit by bit start introducing words and phrases. This keeps conversation alive at all times and the children involved. By removing stress, children are actually keener to experiment with new language because they know it’s all about participating and getting involved.
We’re often told by parents that they wished they’d been able to learn this way when they were children. Dispelling the myth that language learning is complicated and needs a degree of stress to make it worthwhile is one of the pleasures of what we do. Language learning is fun, collaborative and motivating.