Updated: Jul 17, 2022
LivelyLanguages' innovative method is based on how children learn to speak their first language, which is by imitating and then adapting what they hear to express themselves.
Here's how it works:
Every week, we send out two dual-language crib sheets a few days before the session. These are also on Quizlet, an online learning platform and so people can brush up on the language that'll be used beforehand. This is by no means homework, some people like to do this, whilst others prefer to wing it on the day, and so anything goes!
In the actual sessions...
The first thirty minutes is spent on the first dialogue and it is practised five times. Everyone is allocated a partner to speak with, and the partners change after five minutes à la speed-dating. When speaking, people have the choice of either reading the script in the foreign language, or looking at the English version, and simultaneously translating it into the other language. And of course, this isn't a one-way street; if you forget how to say something, you can just turn the sheets over, or scroll back through your phone. During the fifth round, everyone is encouraged to change the details of the conversation, which can lead to all kinds of fun! You might change the shop you're in, the product you're buying or the whole scenario, based on what you know and what you think your speaking partner can cope with.
And so this method allows people with different levels of language to chat comfortably together. The environment is both fun and fast-paced, yet a sympathetic environment for language learners and those who'd like an opportunity to speak these languages. What's more, because of our method, everyone gets to speak for practically the whole hour in the foreign language which really helps improve both speaking and listening skills (and reading skills if you're reading the script in the foreign language).
Do the conversations get harder and harder each week?
No, just as when we speak in English, we don't use progressively more complicated language each time we say something, the crib sheets vary in difficulty. Some are quite straightforward, such as ordering drinks in a café, whereas others can be quite a lot more complicated, such as saying where you would have gone on holiday if you'd won the lottery (that's the third conditional if you're into your grammar!) But remember, you get the conversations beforehand and you can prepare, or you can read the crib sheets in the foreign language if you need to. Also, each session works independently of the ones either side of it, so you don't miss out if you can't come one week, or indeed if you only want to come along every other week.
So, is there a curriculum?
Yes! I'm Angela, and this is my concept. I've also been a modern foreign language teacher for many years and I have a devised a curriculum. Each week, one of the two conversations is based on a grammatical focus or a lexis of vocabulary. Sometimes there is a blog entry or an explainer video on LivelyLanguages YouTube channel or you can always send us an email for an explanation to a grammar point.
What do we talk about?
Out of the two conversations, one is a conversation between two friends, and uses the informal register (ie tu, tú or du) and the other is a more formal, transactional dialogue and will use vous in French, Sie in German and sometimes Usted in Spanish. The conversations are based on practical language that we might come across or need to use when abroad but I'm also open to suggestions, so if there's a conversation you'd like, just let me know.
How do I know I'll be good enough?
Thanks to the help put in place (the crib sheets, the material on Quizlet, the videos), plus the sociable set up, no-one gets tongue-tied or lost for words. But don't just take my word for it, come and try it out for yourself.
This is what Trini said,
'This is a superb class which I have been part of for the past three years. Professionally run by Angela, with an excellent formula - it has a very relaxed feel about it and has a happy vibe - both in person, or on line but has also noticeably improved our French - Abilities vary but the format works whatever level you are, as you constantly swap partners, enabling you to chat at different speeds. An undaunting and safe space which without doubt encourages and improves your language skills!'
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