Look Before You Leap Into a Language
You May Have to Put Your Money
Where Your Mouth Is
These are excerpts from an article by reporter Brandon Mitchener on intensive and full-immersion foreign language training.
The article appeared in the Wall Street Journal Europe Edition,
Friday-Saturday, June 27-28, 1997.
On his second try, Mr. Ecklund found just what he was looking for: a full-immersion program at DIALOGUE, that both helped him with his pronunciation and grammar and adapted itself to his interests - including vocabulary geared to his logistics business. Mr. Ecklund is commercial director of Caterpillar Logistics Services Inc., a unit of Caterpillar Inc.
The key to Mr. Ecklund’s satisfaction, in his view, was the one-on-one philosophy of the school, DIALOGUE, which offers individualized courses ranging from 20 hours of
instruction a week to a more extensive 40 hours a week.
Mr. Ecklund is convinced that the school, which is run out of the home of the teachers and includes full board and round-the-clock attention, is a bargain. "If you go to group classes, you might save money, but you’ll probably spend the same amount over time because it’ll take you much longer," he says.
In fact, people who have taken a full-immersion plunge say group classes should be limited to five students, especially if you’re beyond the absolute-beginner level. The more numerous or more advanced the students, the more likely the ability level will vary wildly.
Small Is Beautiful
A reason to opt for one-on-one instruction, or at least go to a school that offers one-on-one lessons, is the opportunity to work on specialized vocabulary and cultural issues that wouldn’t be part of a traditional curriculum.
Of course, schools like DIALOGUE have their price. (…) But considering the degree of individual attention they provide, students who attend them have a better shot at satisfaction.
The article goes on to describe schools for German, Russian and other languages that offer the same intensive learning experience as DialoguE.
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