You’ve been learning this foreign language for a while now. But lately you feel stuck, you’re not progressing as you used to. Or you must reach certain milestones in your language learning, may be due to some deadlines at work. You’re overwhelmed.
It’s time to think in the possibility of working with a foreign language coach.
I already have a teacher, or I just bought this course, I hear you say. Why do I need a language coach?
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First, let’s have a look at the following definitions.
impart knowledge to or instruct (someone) as to how to do something: give information about or instruct in (a subject or skill): work as a teacher.
Cause (someone) to learn or understand something by example or experience.
Encourage someone to accept (something) as a fact or principle.
Prompt or urge (someone) with instructions.
[Oxford Dictionaries online.]
In other words:
A teacher instructs someone as to how to do something. He/she provides information and expects the information to be considered true.
A coach helps others on their self-awareness journey. He/she helps you identify your goals and figure out how to achieve them. A foreign language coach assists in discovering effective ways to learn.
How does language coaching help?
Language coaching addresses the emotional, motivational and practical side of learning a language. Language coaching helps learners develop awareness of the conditions that influence their learning. Negative experiences from your past can hinder your progress. That is the reason why coaching works by helping learners unearth past limiting beliefs and self-loathing.
They become conscious of their reasons for learning the language, their mid-term and long-term objectives, and their degree of motivation. With the help of the coach learners assess their current situations and where they want to go.
Language coaching applies the principle that learners can self-direct their language study, meaning that they are responsible for taking all decisions about their own learning process. They decide what to prioritise, their achievement goals, their learning projects, which resources will help them, what specific approach to learning they wish to try, and how to evaluate their results.
Language coaching encourages the learner to analyse and think about the different aspects of learning.
The coach supports learners in finding solutions to existing problems and providing adequate resources for them to overcome a specific hurdle.
Language coaching encourages learners to focus on successful strategies that can be implemented and where changes are required. This is the coaching formula for success.
Learners optimise their learning by working together with their language coach. The latter should not issue his/her own opinion, recommendations and tips but guide coachees in finding their own solutions.
How does language coaching work?
The coaching sessions follow a set structure using communicative discussions and questioning techniques. These encourage learners to see the problems under a new light and think about different solutions. The coach should remain neutral.
Learners decide what topic to bring into the discussion, depending on the areas where they are struggling.
These sessions can be held on a one on one basis, in person or online, or in groups. They can happen in combination with a language course or be independent of any course.
At first, Coach and coachee set goals and targets. These are worked upon over a set period in which the client commits to reach these goals. The coach must fully understand what the coachee needs to learn and the deadlines.
Then strategies and visible actions are established to enable the coachee to achieve the desired goals. The coach should discover in conversations with the client his/her motivation and level of commitment.
The aim of the coaching sessions is to make sure the desired outcomes are met, if not the reason of failure to accomplish these goals are explored and when necessary new goals are established.
The language coach will measure success by acknowledging visible changes in behaviour and tangible results.
Coaching helps learners apply effective language learning and allow them to progress faster than with a course only.
The coachee has a more active participation in his/her learning process and takes more responsibility.
The coach adapts to the coachee. Both have equal status.
Feedback is ongoing and acknowledging the coachee efforts and achievements boosts his/her motivation and commitment.
No books are needed, and information is transmitted via free and open coaching conversations and dialogues allowing the coachee to assimilate and then put the knowledge into practical use immediately.
The coach will help the coachee understand the barriers preventing him/her from getting results.
The objective is to maximise the potential of the learner.
The coach keeps the client engaged, motivated, valued and committed.
Coaching is client focused and tailor-made.
The coaching sessions stimulate reflection.
The language coach is aware of ethics and confidentiality and creates a trustful environment for the coachee in the knowledge that all information remains within the session.
About the Author
Géralde Vincent-Bancroft is the founder of Speak Fast Languages . By day, she's a doctor, but language has always been her passion and she's had the privilege of being exposed to multiple languages from an early age.
She currently speaks SEVEN languages fluently, and is still learning more! She's spent her life helping adults and children alike learn the languages of their dreams. With over 20 years of teaching, her goal is to transfer that knowledge to you.
She has 2 beautiful children.
She believes that learning a new language can be incredibly fun.
When she’s not serving her clients, she geeks out on board games, and challenging her friends to top her awesome karaoke skills. She calls Blackburn lancashire, UK home.