Monday, August 18, 2008

The English Language Learning Frequency vs. Fluency Debate

Which is More Beneficial?

Which is more beneficial for improving English or foreign language proficiency: more hours or more classes? At first it would seem that they are the same thing. They are most definitely not. Let me explain.

Academic and Private English Language Institutes

Many academic and private English and foreign language institutes are increasingly demonstrating an alarming tendency towards fewer and fewer actual contact hours and increasing the number of “self study” hours - which you pay them for, by the way. The preference is to lump learners into one long weekly class in leiu of several shorter ones during the week. Although this might seem top aid the institute’s bottom line, it ultimately will negatively impact teachers and learners when overall language learning and skills are diminished.

More Hours of English

To provide learners with more hours of English means to increase the actual number of English language learning hours without specifying any particular distribution. To go from three to five hours of English per week to ten or even fifteen hours per week cannot necessarily be deemed a bad thing. Or could it?

If you have three contact hours, that is, three hours of actual class time in front of an English teacher, this of course is far too few hours for any substantial, true English or foreign language skills development even over a long term. Raising that to additional hours but having the additional hours as “self-study”, virtual or other types of non-contact hours does little, in my opinion, to aid in the development of English or other foreign language skills.

More English Classes

Now if you add more “in-person” classes however, and you’re definitely going to impact both English language teaching and English language learning skills. Using five hours per week as an example, learners would make substantially more progress in language skills development by having five one-hour classes, one class hour per day from Monday through Friday, than they would by having one language class of four or five hours duration only once per week. In fact, learners with one-hour classes on three different days of the week would develop their foreign language skills far faster than a group of learners taking one five-hour long class once per week.

English or Foreign Language Exposure

The added input and practice days would automatically promote English or foreign language exposure each day as opposed to a more intensive, lower exposure, but tiring once-per-week classes. The benefits of having more classes would extend to both English language teachers and foreign language learners alike.

What do you think?

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, prolific writer, author and public speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 100 countries. Get your FREE E-book, "If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.

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