Online learning vs Classroom learning

We think the most effective option for learning a language is full immersion, supplemented by structured classes, in a country where the target language is widely spoken. The next best option is to attend face-to-face classes while you are in New Zealand, guided by an experienced native teacher using a curriculum designed for New Zealanders. However, we do understand that this is sometimes impractical, because you cannot commit to fixed times or there are no suitable classes in your area.

You can consider a guided course delivered over the phone and internet. This is ideal if you are just too busy, or if you are often travelling but can be reached by telephone in any destination. Similarly, if you live in a very remote location, and a teacher can’t get to you, telephone / Skype language lessons are an excellent solution.

This can be supplemented by weekend language courses, lunchtime courses or summer school programmes at a language school (hint, hint). You know how canada drugs no prescription levitra to contact us 🙂

Face-to-face classes may not be the right solution for everyone. For every one of the learning options, there are advantages and disadvantages:

Learning options: Cost (NZD) Pros Cons
Full immersion in foreign country, with a Euroasia partner school $500-1000 / week depending on city/school Most effective option
Fast track your progress
Meet new friends to practice with
Combine travel with learning
Expensive
Requires planning and time off work
Can be scary
Face-to-face classes at Euroasia $300+ for 10 lessons Experienced native-speaker teachers
Small classes (under 10), allowing for more interaction
Curriculum designed for Kiwis
More effective than independent learning options
Fixed commitment, less opportunity to slack off
Meet new practice buddies
Fixed time and place
Travel required
More expensive than independent learning options
Putting yourself outside comfort zone
Community school night classes $50 for 10 lessons Less expensive taster course
More effective than independent learning options
Fixed commitment
Meet new practice buddies
Class limit of 25-30
Large classes mean less opportunity to practice
Quality of teachers variable
Students less committed because of low cost
Fixed time and place
Travel required
Guided online learning (with Euroasia teacher) $70 per hour(1-on-1) Anywhere, almost anytime
Personalised programme
Guidance from teacher
More effective than independent learning options
No travel required
Guidance from teacher
Limited social interaction
Requires some discipline
Requires new skills / technology
Independent online learning $150 for 3 months’ access Anywhere, anytime
Cheaper
Self-directed
No travel required
No guidance from teacher
No social interaction
Requires strong discipline
Requires new skills / technology
Little support
Phrase books / DIY language packs $50-$200 Anywhere, anytime
Cheapest option
Self-directed
No travel required
No guidance from teacher
No social interaction
Requires strong discipline
Requires new skills / technology
No support

What do you think? Have you tried online learning before? Good / bad experiences to share?

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Top 10 beaches to visit in autumn

TripAdvisor.com has just released a list of the Top 10 Autumn Beach Destinations in the world.

1. Fiji
2. Pattaya, Thailand
3. Cook Islands
4. Bali
5. Luzon, Philippines
6. Khao Lak, Thailand
7. Dunedin, New Zealand
8. Port Vila, Vanuatu
9. Koror, Palau
10. Queensland

I can’t believe they ranked Dunedin number 7. Anyone who has been to Dunedin in autumn knows what I’m talking about. The last thing you want to be doing in Dunedin in autumn is to be sitting on a beach.  I wonder if it’s all those people from Invercargill heading north for a beach holiday skewing the results 😉

OK jokes aside, I’ll be heading down to Dunedin next week so I’ll find out for myself why Dunedin’s on the list. I haven’t been to Dunedin in 8 years, but my guess is not much has changed in that time.

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Why New Zealand needs to allow international students to stay

I suspect many New Zealanders think that international students should return home after they complete their studies here. Furthermore, because they are not New Zealanders, perhaps the prevailing view is that we are not obliged to help them. This is especially so when there are plenty of other New Zealand graduates looking for work. I don’t think there’s an obligation on our part to help international students find work after they graduate. Not even if they have paid us $20K per year in fees alone for the 3 or 4 years of their studies, and spending over $120K for a 3 year degree. There’s also no obligation to let them stay because it’s the humanitarian thing to do.

However, if we had more foresight, we would be doing our best to retain talent in this country, regardless of whether they are New Zealanders or not. As it stands, we are losing people at such a rate that when I catch up with fellow employers we begin to question if there are any unemployed skilled Kiwis left in this country.

net migration from nz to aust

This chart from interest.co.nz illustrate our net migration loss to Australia. As you can see, we’re certainly deep in the red.We are competing in a global labour market for talent. And we’re losing that battle. I don’t understand why we need to make life so difficult for smart, talented and hardworking people who WANT to live and work in this country. We’re pleading with New Zealanders to return home, and increasingly many don’t want to, as we can see from the migration data. We’re writing off student loan interest to bribe…oops, entice people to remain in this country. All in the name of stemming the brain drain. At the same time, we keep looking for ways to prevent international graduates from “competing” with locals for jobs. Employers who attempt to recruit these “foreigners” are harassed and asked to prove that there are no New Zealanders who can fill these roles. I wouldn’t be whining about “third world countries stealing Kiwi jobs”. I would far prefer to go out and steal their smart, hardworking and hungry people.

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Why is Australia ahead in language-learning?

VISION! This is so important. And vision doesn’t just happen. Strong leadership is critical. Which is why I’m pretty impressed with what Australia is doing. Our mates held the Australia 2020 Summit over the weekend.

The Summit brought together community leaders, business people and ordinary folk, to talk about the best ideas for building a modern Australia ready for the challenges of the 21st century.

What’s most impressive from a language-learning perspective is that delegates to the national security and future prosperity stream called for a radical ramping up of language skills. Foreign Minister Stephen Smith declared the goal “a most important thing”.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd“We have to make Australia’s understanding of Asian literacy and Asian culture almost second nature to us,” Mr Smith said.

“This is a most important thing we can do, not just from an international relations point of view but also from our young schoolchildren’s point of view.”

I suppose anyone who has heard Kevin Rudd speak in Mandarin would not be surprised at Australia’s stance. I was totally impressed when I first caught a youtube clip of Kevin Rudd’s speech at Beijing University. He even managed a joke in Mandarin.

And for those of you who understand Mandarin, check this out:

Kevin Rudd talking about himself in Mandarin

Australia’s 2020 vision for languages is inspiring. They would like to see every student in Australia learning a foreign language within 12 years. For a group of people with disparate interests to arrive at a goal like this is pretty remarkable: “to ensure that the major languages and cultures of our region are no longer foreign to Australians but are familiar and mainstreamed into Australian society”.

Now, if anyone wants to sign up for a foreign language class, we have classes starting next week!

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Why teach languages in schools?

I stumbled upon a survey currently conducted by an Australian online journal debating social and political issues of interest. The May 08 topic for discussion is “What’s the point of language teaching?”

Is it just economic, or are the biggest benefits intrinsic? What languages should be taught, how should we determine priorities? And what about “dead” and invented languages like Latin and Esperanto?

I figured we should canvass some opinions here and get some debate going. Hopefully I can get Tina to include this in the monthly Te Waka Reo newsletter.

p/s: Thanks to all those people who have joined up on the International Languages Week group on Facebook. Good to see the level of interest in languages.

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Are women really better at learning a language?

A recent article in Scientific American outlined results from a study showing that girls completing a linguistic abilities task showed greater activity in brain areas implicated specifically in language encoding, which decipher information abstractly. Boys, on the other hand, showed a lot of activity in regions tied to visual and auditory functions.

The implications are numerous. It appears that boys need to be taught language both visually (with a textbook) and orally (through a lecture) to get a full grasp of the subject, whereas a girl may be able to pick up the concepts by either method.

At Euroasia, I’ve observed over the years that we consistently have more girls (OK, women) than boys in our classes. On average, women make up about 60%-70% of our client base, and it’s not surprising to see all-female classes at times. I think there are a number of reasons why this is the case. Perhaps language learning is simply more appealing to women. Others would say that girls like the romance associated with learning a second language. It seems like now we have some more compelling biological reasons behind this phenomenon.

However, it has also been interesting to observe the guys who come along for language classes. I’m unsure if it’s PC to say so, but it also appears that the guys who tend to want to learn a second language (in spite of being supposedly biologically inferior in this respect) are more sophisticated, confident, urbane and adventurous. If guys are indeed behind the proverbial eight-ball, perhaps those who choose to learn a language need these qualities in order to succeed. Either that or simply because they wish to be in the presence of beautiful, intelligent women. And I would add that there’s certainly nothing wrong with that!

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50 million learning a foreign language in China

I’m amazed to find out that China has nearly 50 million people who are currently learning foreign languages. According to a Chinese Ministry of Education official, 900 colleges offer an English major, and of those, more than 600 can confer a bachelor’s degree and more than 200 can confer master’s degrees.

There are more than 800,000 students majoring in English in China annually!

By contrast, New Zealand produces approximately 21,000 graduates per year across all disciplines, of which approximately 2,000 were classed as “humanities” graduates. I imagine languages, history, geography etc would all fall under this category. As it stands, New Zealand is one of the most monolingual countries in the world. I don’t see this changing any time soon. Perhaps some people reading this article would be thinking why bother with learning a language if everyone is learning English as a second language. Here are some reasons:

1. It seems a little unfair that we expect other people to devote so much time, money and energy to learning English so that they can communicate with us if we’re not prepared to make any effort at all.
After all, it’s just a matter of luck that we were born to speak English and not one of the 6,000 or so other languages in the world.

2. We in New Zealand are reliant upon links with other countries for our prosperity, and the majority of our trade now is with non-English speaking countries. Why should our international partners be keen
to trade with us if we make no serious attempt to understand their languages and their cultures?

3. When you travel in a country without a knowledge of the language, in some ways you only scratch the surface; only when you know the language do you realise how much you would otherwise be missing.

4. If you have never learnt another language, you have missed out on a key experience which millions of other people have had: understanding the ways in which languages can differ, realising that the way your language conveys meaning is not necessarily the “right” way, just one way among dozens of possible ways.

5. If you have never looked at another language, it is doubtful that you can ever really understand your own.

Well, if you’ve always wanted to learn a language, it’s not to late to join Euroasia for the April 08 intake.

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Why a blog on language and culture?

We have been thinking about sharing some of our thoughts for a while. It recently dawned on me that we have access to a community of over 2000 New Zealanders, who have completed a course with us sometime over the past 5 years. Our team members have unique perspectives as migrants and educators in New Zealand. Unfortunately, often our perspectives are not heard, so why not share some of our thoughts here? And maybe provoke some debate along the way?

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