Imagine you are in a classroom with a teacher who is using purely your target language. The teacher points to parts of his body and, in the target language, says what the parts are (e.g. head, arm, nose). The teacher then asks you, in the target language, to point, for example at his head. If you get it right, the teacher congratulates you. If you get it wrong, or appear to be struggling, the teacher will help you or correct you. All the time, this is done in the target language. You, as a student, are processing the language in a very natural way. The teacher gradually makes the exercise harder and harder (e.g. asking you to point at his arm AND his nose). Basically Lingopolo tries to reproduce this interaction with a teacher through questions and answers.
There are a number of key principles:
- teaching you to understand a gradually more and more complex body of comprehensible input. This means that Lingopolo starts teaching you very simple words and phrases, and gradually moves to more and more complex words and phrases. The aim is to always challenge you, but never to lose you.
- teaching you from the most common words to the least common words, in order to maximise effectiveness. Every lesson is carefully arranged to make sure that you learn the most frequently used words first.
- requiring you to use active comprehension, rather than passive comprehension. We constantly use question and answer to ensure that you are always paying attention.
Our skill focus on Lingopolo is on listening and getting you to understand what you hear spoken, and when you can understand what is being spoken, getting you to speak. When you can understand what is being said by someone else, it is much easier to be able to say these things yourself.
We build up your language comprehension skills naturally by building up sentences in a pyramid-like way. For example, first you might learn to understand some nouns (e.g. "man", "woman", "dog", "banana", "two"), then you learn to understand some verbs (e.g. "to like", "to eat"), and then we very quickly start putting them together into simple phrases like "The man likes the dog", "The woman eats two bananas". Our emphasis here is not on forcing you to speak before you are ready, but on making sure that you understand what is spoken, that you are learning to process language in a very natural way.
At Lingopolo, we teach the 4 language skills in the following order:
- listening. We make the listening skill (and of course comprehending what is said), the fundamental platform upon which each of the other skills are built. This is the most effective way to ensure that you develop a good accent when you speak.
- speaking. Once we are sure you can understand a word or phrase, then, and only then, do we ask you to speak it. This ensures that you at least have a good basis in your head for how a word or phrase sounds before trying to say it.
- reading. Before reading a word or phrase, we prefer that you can recognise it when it is spoken (the listening phase), and that you can reproduce it when speaking (the speaking phase). Then, and only then, do we suggest you learn to read it. This ensures that you use just your ears and mouth (and not your eyes) during the listening and speaking phase. When you speak, the aim should always be to reproduce what you hear spoken, and not what you see written.
- writing. Finally, when you can properly read a word, then, and only then, do we teach you to write it.
It should be remembered that this sequence of listening, then speaking, then reading, then writing is the way in which children learn their own language.