The power of compliments during a language course

1 March 2018
door Regina Coeli

If, at the start of a language course at Regina Coeli, you expect to be taught by strict nuns, you will be surprised. First of all, our language trainers do not live in a cloister, but in their own homes like everyone else. Secondly, they are—certainly compared to the image that nuns used to have in general—very complimentary.

Receiving compliments—or, as we prefer to call it, positive feedback—helps tremendously when it comes to learning languages. Because an emphasis is placed on what you do well, your self-confidence grows, you speak more easily and you are more open to taking new material on board.

Perhaps it is precisely because all our trainers have learned to speak one or more foreign languages and know very well how much effort it takes to make progress, that these compliments are sincere. If that were not the case, then our students would immediately notice it. And an insincere compliment actually has the opposite effect.

Cultural aspect

Incidentally, giving compliments is also cultural. It is quite plausible that more compliments are given in the English section than the Dutch section. In the polite Anglo-Saxon culture, the positive is accentuated more readily than it is in the straightforward Dutch culture.

Constructive criticism

Generally, the Dutch give compliments more sparingly and prefer to give 'constructive criticism' instead, i.e. a compliment wrapped up in advice for improvement. This is in contrast to how, to the ears of a Dutchman, Englishmen or Americans sometimes even make criticism or complaints sound like compliments. Just think of the well-known statement 'That's quite interesting', by which an Englishman means that you have said something which does not particularly impress him.

Good compliments in another language

Would you like to learn to give good compliments in another language? Then take a language course with us. No matter what language you learn at Regina Coeli, cultural aspects of the language are a part of the package. You not only learn the language, but also the etiquette, about the subjects you can speak to someone about in order to build a good relationship with them, and, therefore, also how to give compliments in another language. You do this not only in a different language, but also in a different way and on different subjects.

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