Learning to swim without total immersion!

9 April 2020
door Regina Coeli

For a number of weeks now, it has only been possible to have online lessons with our language trainers at Regina Coeli. The coronavirus forced us to close our doors on 16 March. However, in no time at all, we have managed to get online lessons up and running, which means that you can now learn in the comfort of your own home with an online blended language training, albeit at a more leisurely pace. Afterall, lessons via a computer screen can hardly be compared with inhouse lessons at our institute. It was certainly worth the effort because apparently there are many people who are keen to learn a language, even in these circumstances.

We have had course members who, for example, have needed to learn German at short notice for their new jobs, and others who have wanted to bring their English up to scratch in preparation for having to give presentations online. They have appreciated the fact that, despite the closure, they have been able to do their courses with us.

However, there are also those who are taking advantage of the situation to expand their knowledge of a language or see our online courses as a more accessible way of getting to know us. It is especially interesting to see that our Spanish and Italian courses have increased in popularity. It is obvious that many of us still long for the Spanish Costas and the Italian beaches rather than our own sunny back gardens!

We, too, are learning from our online experiences

Teaching online is not new for us. For years, it has been an option as part of the regular language training course. There are course members, for example, who come to the institute for an intensive week prior to taking up a position abroad. They then continue their lessons online for a while with the teachers they met during their time at Regina Coeli.

Now that all our training courses are online, we are not only helping others to learn a language, but also learning from the experience ourselves. For example, we can still give our course members the personal attention they need, and they are able to make significant progress in their language skills even though the lessons are less intensive, and the online approach is slightly different.

Regina Coeli’s strength is that our lessons are one-on-one. Our native speaker language trainers get to know their individual course members and the situations in which they use their languages, which enables them to put together a completely tailor-made programme. The strength of this personal approach also applies when it comes to online teaching, which means that we can continue to deliver the quality our course members expect of us.

We still believe in ‘intensive’

What we are looking forward to more than anything, however, is to be able to resume our regular training courses in Vught. There are, of course, significant differences between the online blended-learning language courses we are currently offering and the intensive courses that take place at the institute:

First difference: total immersion
During an intensive training course of several days, your chosen language is your only focus. The driving force is that your lessons, one after the other, are carefully fine-tuned to your specific requirements. For most people, having that many lessons online at home in such a short period of time is just not feasible. The total immersion that course members experience inhouse is virtually impossible at home. It is important, therefore, to plan online lessons carefully and to discuss how much homework can be done in between lessons.

Second difference: focus
At the institute, you can focus completely on your language. There is very little distraction which means that you can use your time optimally. With online lessons, most course members have to fit them in between other activities during the day, such as their jobs, looking after children, and all the other chores that need to be done.

Third difference: variation
During your intensive training course in Vught, you are taught by a team of native speaker language trainers. That guarantees variation and speeds up the learning process. You hear a variety of accents, each lesson is different, and you are constantly being challenged. In comparison, online lessons are shorter, and you only have one language trainer. A very good one, of course!

Fourth difference: interaction with other course members
Although our language training courses are individual, you are never alone. You interact with other course members during the coffee breaks, at lunchtime, at dinnertime, and in the gym. Why not practise your German with a German who is learning Dutch, or your Spanish with a South American who is learning English? Interacting with others is the most natural way to learn a language.

Does this mean that it would be better to wait until we are open again before you get down to learning a language? No, certainly not. Take advantage of the current situation and start straight away. Our e-learning method and our experienced language trainers are a sure guarantee that there is no better place for you to learn online than at Regina Coeli. But we also look forward to welcoming you to our institute for an intensive course someday soon. Not only will you be able to communicate more effectively in your chosen language, but you will also be able to experience the differences.

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