The concept of acquiring skills is one of the reasons I founded Skill House Learning. In a big way, skills define who you are. Skill are one thing no one can take away from you. For myself, skills not only provide practical application in one’s life but also direction and a foundation of one’s purpose. For me, developing skills is a lifelong journey. High level ability does not come easy, but with practice and dedication we can all achieve great things through developing skills.
Teaching Methodology at Skill House Learning
Based on my observations, beliefs, and personal experience as a teacher and language learner, I have developed a unique teaching method. Essentially, I look at learning a language with three components: vocabulary, applied vocabulary, and language patterns. Vocabulary is the base level. One needs to develop an understanding of individual words as first step. When moving up in language ability levels, one component is increasing the size of one’s vocabulary. For instance, I will be taking the HSK Chinese language fluency test this December, testing at level 4 out of 6. In order to advance to the next level, one of piece of that is continually working to expand my vocabulary in my target language.
In addition to expanding vocabulary one needs to know how words fit together with other words. This is grammar and it is also roots, prefixes, suffixes, as well as verbal tenses. Knowing how words fit together makes it easier to infer and recognize meaning when approaching new vocabulary.
Thirdly, after acquiring vocabulary and an understanding of how the words fit together, the next step is language patterns. To understand language patterns is to understand natural communication. When I first moved to China, I would learn language patterns in Chinese by riding with cab drivers and having them ask me the same set of questions each day. I developed automatic responses to each question. I knew that when I would here that, I should say this. This automatic response is the work of understanding language patterns.
How many times have you heard: I used to be able to speak Spanish, Japanese, French? The question really is: why can’t you speak the language now? Where did the skills go? When we leave regular language practice, be that the classroom or the native country, it is much more difficult to continue to develop language ability.
This makes sense, right? When we are in the classroom, we have our fellow students to practice with. We are regularly using the language. Similarly, when we live in a foreign country, we have the culture and entire population to engage with. But when we move to real life outside the classroom and back in our home country, what happens to our language ability? As you probably well know, our language ability tends to wither away.
However, this does not have to be the case. You can maintain your language ability and even keep progressing while moving beyond the classroom and entering the daily grind in your home country. The key here is getting yourself to stay motivated with a personal connection to the language you are learning. Find bands that sing in your target language. Eat at restaurants where you can practice your language skills. Play a sport or train a martial art in the target language. Find your connection and you will be motivated to learn and continue to progress in language ability.
Stay tuned for more language learning tips from Skill House Learning!
Skill House Learning
1055 W 7th Street, 33rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017