Language is a skill. Learning a language is like learning to drive.
When learning to drive, before hitting the road, you must know about cars, their functions, road signs, driving rules, etc. After that’s done, you practice driving on the road and in traffic to deal with all kinds of situations. With practice, you get more and more experienced and finally you become a proficient driver.
In language learning, it is important to study pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, functions of language, etc. However, the learning journey shouldn’t be simply a process of understanding and memorization. The knowledge you have learned must be seen in the context of communicative activities. Many people spend years learning a foreign language, but they still have a lot of difficulties communicating with native speakers. The main reason is that there is a large gap between their passive and active knowledge. The best way to bridge the gap is to use the language in different contexts and for different purposes.
Most of my students take only a few hour lessons every week. The biggest challenge for them is that they don’t have the chance to practice Chinese outside the classroom. Therefore, my courses are designed using the communicative approach. The pragmatic, authentic, functional use of language for meaningful purposes is stressed. Classroom tasks involve students in real communication situations, so that they will be equipped with the skills necessary to communicate in unrehearsed contexts outside the classroom. Interactive activities play an important role in the course of teaching.
I always encourage my students to revise, listen and read all kinds of materials, and to watch videos or films after lessons so that they can more easily absorb the language and we can spend more time in class doing communicative activities. Developing a student’s competence of communication is no doubt the final goal of the course.