Don’t waste your time on Intensive language course!
Why, you may ask? Well, there are several reasons. Of course, taking an intense language course seems like the answer to your prayers. I know what it is like when you’re an adult and you don’t have a lot of time on your hands. You think 120 hours in three weeks to be fluent is awesome! I’ll be speaking the language in no time at all! Right? Wrong! And let me explain why:
First it all starts with your brain. Surprise Surprise right!
When we are learning, the information goes into your temporary memory and doesn’t get transferred to your long term memory until it is something you use or it becomes an important part of your everyday life. There are also factors like interests, usefulness, and if it relates to previous knowledge, etc.
The biggest drawback with intensive courses is all this information that is being crammed into your brain will disappear if you don’t use it straight away. Your short term memory will not transfer that information to your long term memory. It takes time for the brain to process information as well. We are humans, not computers. When learning a course’s content in a short period of time there is a lack of time to analyse what is being learned. Studies also show that students enrolled in compressed courses have lower test results than students from traditional length courses.
The second reason why intensive course can be a bad idea:
If you are not in a language course that can be tailored to what you need to use it for, for example; job interviews, work, or administrative tasks, then you are going to be learning lots of general vocabulary that you won’t be using. If there is no additional relational information that connects it and if you have no experience with that information, then the information begins to fade. The reticular activating system (RAS) in the brain filters out things that it doesn’t think are important to you. So, if you are not using something the brain doesn’t think it is important. Some other factors that can affect retaining information can do with your intellectual capabilities, age, social environment, etc. You need a course that is going to teach you the language and vocabulary that you are going to use the most often. It should have a purpose and clear objectives to give it meaning to you. This way your brain can use it and transfer the language to your long term memory.
The third drawback with intensive courses:
It is well-known that fatigue undermines learning and performance. The fact is that a lot of learners feel fatigued and unable to concentrate by the end of an intensive course. The end of the course is when the most complex concepts are normally being presented and overall integration is required. So, it doesn’t bode well for retention. Also, if for some reason you need to skip a few classes, you will miss a lot of information. This leaves you trying to connect new information on top of an unfilled base with a tired mind.
So what’s the alternative?
- Get a course that can be tailored to your purpose and goals when it comes to learning. It needs to be a language that you will use straight away and for things that are important to you.
- Use a Neurolanguage coach – You might be asking what’s that? It is a combination of traditional language learning with coaching that takes into account how the brain works and learns. You get to set your objectives and goals for the language plus get support if you get stuck emotionally or psychologically.
- Sometimes less is more. Take a course that goes at your pace. You have time to integrate the information, practice, and ask questions where you are confused rather than going straight past the things you didn’t understand thinking you will.
Just to be clear, intensive courses can be useful if you are using what you are learning straight away. Now that you have some information on how to make an intensive course more effective it is still an option for people who do not have a lot of time on their hands.
Please your comments below about your experiences with language courses.