Being totally immersed in the Spanish language is the most effective way to learn it. This is why a conversational approach is desired and the reason why classes should be entirely in Spanish, even if that means that it may be more difficult in the beginning.
The communicative teaching method views language as a medium of communication. It recognizes that communication has a social purpose: the language learner has something to say or to find out. In this teaching method importance is placed on helping the student get the message delivered. This is what really matters: if the student can understand and be understood.
The communicative methodology is centered in helping the student develop certain skills and abilities: oral interaction and expression, hearing and reading comprehension, and writing expression. In each class students will be lead to practice Spanish in contextualized, practical and everyday situations through activities with predefined goals.
The communicative approach gives primacy to oral work. Direct contact with the language is very important. Not just from hearing the teacher, but also from using it and from hearing other people besides the teacher. Having personal contact with the language, practicing sounds, improvising and trying to make your own sentences and getting the chance to make mistakes and learn from doing so. This is another good reason why classes should be entirely in Spanish.
Errors are a natural part of learning a language. Learners who try their best to use the language creatively and spontaneously are bound to make mistakes. In our Spanish teaching method constant correction is not necessarily essential and can even be counterproductive, especially at the lower levels. Correction should be discreet and the teacher should take note of student's mistakes in order to help them discover on their own the correct way of speech. Meaning is given precedence over form.
In this language teaching method grammar is still taught, but less systematically, in traditional ways alongside with more innovative approaches.
The communicative approach seeks to personalize and to localize language and to adapt it to student's interests. The use of idiomatic, everyday language and even slang words is encouraged in this Spanish teaching method.
Students will gain a natural ability to correct themselves as they advance. Teachers should let their students talk and express themselves. The form of language becomes secondary.
In many cases people have been studying a foreign language at least since they were in high school. Later in life students complain about the fact that in spite of having studied a language for several years they are not able to use the language at all. It is encouraging to know that this is not entirely the students fault. It is mostly a consequence of a traditional approach to language teaching with an enormous emphasis on grammar.
In the past it was thought that the grammatical rules of a language were the most important aspect of it. Students were forced to memorize hundreds of verb tenses and word lists, but they never really learned how to use the language spontaneously and naturally.
The writing and reading skills were also given precedence under the traditional method in detriment of the listening and speaking ones. As a result, the overall communicative competence of the students was very poor.
Language is about communicating, not about grammar rules. And communication embraces a whole spectrum of functions (seeking information, apologizing, expressing likes and dislikes, etc.) and notions (apologizing for being late, asking where the nearest post box is, etc.).
Once you enter our classrooms the word boring will disappear from your vocabulary. Our Spanish teaching methodology leads us to bring real communication situations into the classroom. You will participate in "many in class conversational activities" and strolls through town where you will practice what you have just learned in class.
Each of these activities are well planned and structured but also leave enough space for improvisation, necessary to practice Spanish naturally in normal life situations. Students will be taken to the market and encouraged to enter into a negotiation with a vendor, given a list of items with certain characteristics to purchase to make a meal, taken to a bank and have a customer service representative explain the bank's different services.
Interactive classroom activities maximize opportunities for learners to use target language in a communicative way for meaningful activities. In this Spanish teaching method emphasis is placed on meaning (messages being created or tasks being completed) rather than form (correctness of language and language structure), just as in first language acquisition.
Think about the way children learn a language: they learn to speak and understand before learning to read and write and without learning rules about conjugations and grammar structure.
The task based focus of the communicative method takes into account that all of us do things in our everyday life, and many of those things that we do are related with language. For example: we talk about our favorite hobbies, we have interviews, we tell somebody about our love life, we discuss about our city or country problems, we work, we think about our aspirations or just make wishes, we purchase a service, we talk about our feelings, we watch movies and then we talk about them, we suffer a disease and complain about it, we give health advice, we recommend a product or buy something, we describe places, we talk about our past or tell a story, we give an opinion, and the list could go on and on.
In more technical terms: a task based focus is part of a language teaching method centered in actions, because it considers the students that are learning the language as members of a society that has tasks (not only related with the language) that need to be done within a series of specific circumstances, in a specific environment and inside a specific field of action.
The conclusion should be obvious: language is closely related to tasks, so language teaching should incorporate those tasks and aim to produce the language for those specific tasks.
The communicative method with a task based focus works with interactive activities that represent real life communicative situations. Each one of these activities is carefully structured and has its own sequence that will lead the student to the acquisition of a predefined goal by the teacher and the student (a combination on what the student needs and what he wants).
The spirit of a task based method takes into account that what we do in our normal lives are tasks. We do things... and we repeat them, and language happens within those tasks.
At Habla Ya Spanish Schools in Bocas del Toro and Boquete, Panama we bring those tasks to you, so you can learn Spanish in those communicative situations: the real life situations that you will encounter every day. We do this through interactive activities in and outside of the classroom.
Besides the communicative method, other language teaching methods that can help are the audio lingual method, the direct method, the natural method and the acculturation method. At our Spanish language school besides using a communicative approach, we take from each other method what we need in order to meet the specific requirements of each of our students.
All of our Spanish teachers are continually trained in the use of the most effective language teaching methodologies. The last Saturday of every single month is teacher training day at Habla Ya!
The way we teach Spanish depends on each one of our students learning styles and needs. We will adapt our method so that you really learn Spanish.