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VivaLing's foundation: the curriculum

VivaLing’s foundation: the curriculum

Many of our families enjoy the fun and spontaneous aspect of learning at VivaLing and are surprised at what may be the secret to such a successful learning experience. Behind this apparent ease of operation lies a well-honed and structured system, the curriculum! Breaking it down.

A program designed by experts

Behind the playful and amusing facet of its sessions, VivaLing has designed a real pedagogy and progression, giving all its substance to the grammatical and syntax acquisition of its learners, namely, the curriculum, or “syllabus”.

Thought out and designed by highly qualified teaching specialists in their field – called “Master Coaches” – and inspired by the principled communicative approach to language teaching, the VivaLing pedagogy is continually enriched thanks to the community exchanges amongst our coaches and the valuable feedback of our families. It provides our learners with a structured, proven and constantly renewed learning path.

A blend of structure and freedom

The VivaLing curriculum has been designed with the aim of providing our teachers with a solid structure while allowing them a great deal of freedom to customize it – this is the richness of our online language academy: the possibility of fully expressing its cultural and human diversity.

Unlike many other language schools, VivaLing teachers are not given “ready-to-teach” sessions that are repetitive and hinder their creative potential. A true VivaLing hallmark is that it allows for the optimum development of skills and the fulfillment of each individual, in both the teacher and learner.

Learner-centered, always

For this reason, a VivaLing teacher has at his or her disposal a wide range of support material suitable for all ages and abilities – the famous Curriculum. In preparation for a session, the teacher defines his or her objectives, complements the content with the learner’s passions and adds his or her own personal flair.

Behind the screen, the learner has a good time, exchanging with a teacher who has often become a friend, about his passions and his life while constantly progressing thanks to the phenomena of repetition, sleep and various oral and visual memory techniques.

A well-proven mechanism that has paid off, according to the plebiscite of families on our social networks and verified opinions, but also according to the immense pleasure that our coaches take in teaching with the VivaLing method!

A sample curriculum – the intensive courses

Our intensive courses, tailor-made for our families who request them, are a very concrete and popular example of our study programme. For one week, the learner meets his or her coach every day to discuss a theme that has been defined together.

Through a daily discussion rich in vocabulary and interaction, the learner benefits from all the advantages of this intensive exchange: at the end of the week, the difference is often noticeable. Our most inhibited students become real speakers in their second language!

step into each other's shoes - flexibility

The Multi-Talented and Flexible VivaLing Coaches

Wondering how our coaches are selected for you? In this article, we reveal our little trade secrets through a praise of the diversity of our coaching team and their adaptability, the founding element of the exclusive VivaLing pedagogy.

When diversity serves pedagogy

First Contact

You have just registered at VivaLing and discovered your new selection of coaches. Excited by this new language adventure, you read your coaches’ profiles carefully and not without haste. After exploring their qualifications and experience, your eyes linger on their areas of interest.

A former salsa teacher, a lecturer in geopolitics, an amateur pastry chef, a professional musician. Impressed at first by the diversity of their profiles, you wonder however how all this will “fit” with your very serious project of professional reorientation or the very “princess and unicorn” personality of your 7 year-old daughter.

The Multi-Talented and Flexible VivaLing Coaches

 

Your Interests, First and Foremost

Don’t worry; your coaches adapt to everything, and, above all, they adapt to you. Without ever forgetting who they are, they fully dedicate themselves to the objectives and topics of discussion described upon registration.

This is why the two main criteria used by our support team to offer the best coaches are the learner’s age and initial level and the specific objectives. The interests of your coaches will be – or perhaps not – something you stumble upon in your future conversations, but they are not a founding element!

VivaLing’s Quality Guarantee

The VivaLing coach is recruited with the prerequisite of proven experience in communicative pedagogy – the very essence of which is pragmatic and effective teaching focused on the needs and interests of the learner. His or her initial training upon officially joining VivaLing, the VOLT, turns him or her into an expert in the field.

You can therefore confidently choose from among the coaches offered a personality and lifestyle diametrically opposed to your own and embark on the fantastic adventure of the first session blindfolded.

Diversity and Inclusivity

This is the richness of VivaLing, a breeding ground for personalities and lifestyles that are as complementary as they are varied: the VivaLing coach is often an adventurer, sometimes a nomad, a curious person by definition and, without a doubt, a jack-of-all-trades.

Beyond the already very enriching cultural exchange generated by the spontaneous conversation with them each week, it is also an opportunity to mutually enrich each other with often surprising ways of thinking and living.

 

colours and diversity - reflection of our learners and teachers

Several Lives Led at the Same Time

A sound therapist, a graduate in psychology, a professional singer, a published poet, our coaches are not only talented language coaches; they thrive in many other professional fields.

Some of them have pets that are original to say the least: an antelope, bees, worms, or a hedgehog carried in their luggage on vacation. Many of them devote their free time to animals in danger.

In Perpetual Motion

“Mens sana in corpore sano”. Our coaches are on the move. Among them are also great sportsmen, sometimes from the extreme. Ultra marathon runners, black belts of Taekwondo, high mountain climbers or scuba diving coaches.

And then there are the foodies! Those who blog the recipes of their home country for the mass public or those who embark on the adventure of training pizzaiolo or barista to create their own small business. Our coaches never run out of imagination when it comes to reinventing themselves.

All Things Considered

If there is one rule from which VivaLing does not deviate, however, it is the predominantly female characteristic of the world of education. This does not prevent our female coaches from adapting to our male learners, even when it comes to discussing construction techniques, video games, or the football championship!

Another area where VivaLing respects another rule, this time a genetic one, is Gorlin’s Syndrome. In fact, 8 to 10 percent of our coaches can touch the tip of their nose with their tongue and proudly talk about it in their profile! And you, are you blessed with this talent?

Your Child’s Journey with VivaLing

Start early, learn well, don’t forget : these are the very simple stages of your child’s Journey with VivaLing. Find out more below about the theoretical framework developed by VivaLing and how it is implemented in order to achieve results. You can also read the related posts throughout our VivaLing blog.

 

The VivaLing framework v2.6 English Image

How language teaching methodologies have changed, and why they matter

Parents, have you ever wondered which pedagogical method your kids’ language teachers use ? They have changed drastically over time, catering to different needs – and achieving uneven results.

Many years ago, a Russian teacher was telling his young students about one of his best-appraised former classmates. He was a Frenchman learning Russian, who had perfect grammatical command and boasted an unmatched vocabulary. He only had one very small issue – which incidentally had never impacted his academic progress in any way: he was completely unable of holding any conversation whatsoever in Russian.

Our unfortunate student was just another victim of the most traditional pedagogical system used in second language teaching: the Grammar Translation method. The focus is on formal knowledge of the language and, more specifically, its grammar. The learning is deductive: master of his class, the teacher presents grammar rules and gives his students exercises for practice. Translation is among the most favored activities. This way of teaching does not aim at making the language a communication tool at all. It is rather similar to teaching classical or liturgical languages such as Ancient Greek, Latin, and to some extent Sanskrit. The approach, predominant in 19th century Europe, can only be found today in isolated pockets.


the-lady-teacher (credit scottthornbury.wordpress.com)

he audio-lingual method, born in the middle of the 20th century in the US, is based on behaviorist theories. With a great focus on oral and aural aspects, it undertakes to teach languages through repetition and drill. A variation of it, developed in the UK, is the PPP method : Presentation (of a concept), Practice (by exercises), and Production (by students). Sentences given by the teacher are repeated multiple times and learned by heart so as to develop automaticity. Exercises typically consist in variations of these sentences, for instance by substituting a word.

The audio-lingual approach fell quickly under fire from critics and had been by and large discredited since the 70s. As Harmer (2001) points out, “Audio-lingual methodology seems to banish all forms of language processing that help students sort out new language information in their own minds.”  It has nevertheless survived in numerous parts of the world.

Across the Chinese world, for instance, rote learning and repetition are still widespread at the expense of communication. Shumei Zhan (2009) reminds us that oral communication for English-learning Chinese remains very challenging, “even though they might be able to read Shakespeare’s works in original after years of study at school”. The Chinese also know how to laugh about it. A joke goes that one day, a young girl learning English falls off her bike and is stuck in a pit. An American comes by and asks : “Hello, how are you ?”. The little girl answers mechanically: “I am fine, thank you, and you ?”. The American, slightly puzzled, replies that he is fine too and goes away.

confucius institute at Betong municipality (credit english hanban)

Mandarin class at the Confucius Institute at Betong municipality (credit hanban)

In counter-reaction to the audio-lingual method, the 1970s saw the emergence of Communicative Language Teaching methods, where communication is not only the goal of but also the method of learning. The new educational paradigm uses implicit learning in authentic contexts, and not explicit learning in an artificial environment. Grammar is no longer taught, sentences are no longer repeated over and over again. Learning takes place through communication events such as conversations. Defined in a very flexible manner and without any real theoretical foundation, communicative teaching methods give birth to numerous variations. One such variation, a distant relative, builds on non-linguistic tasks to be carried out in the target language.

 

The first generation of Communicative Language Teaching also received its good share of criticism. Its effectiveness, to start with, has been questioned. Dornyei (2011) reminds us that pure implicit teaching of foreign language, including immersion, has not really lived up to expectations. Cultural barriers have also emerged: in the Confucian world, for example, removing the teacher from their central role to being a simple facilitator is not well taken. Finally, CLT does not meet needs as they are still expressed in many countries: passing exams which themselves focus on grammar and vocabulary.

Language Teaching Methodologies

 

CLT is undergoing significant change. In one of its most interesting developments, Dornyei advocates Principled Communicative Approach (PCA) which we will tackle in a future post. PCA combines implicit and explicit teaching in a structured way in order to achieve communicative competence alongside linguistic accuracy.

 

There is no single methodology that can consistently be rated the best. The correct approach is the one that meets the learner’s objectives, and that can be implemented in the learner’s environment. Anyway, as Canagarajah (1999) points out, what teachers practise in language classrooms rarely resembles any specific method as it is prescribed in manuals.

 

 

For more information :

–          Dörnyei, Z. (2013). Communicative Language Teaching in the twenty-first century: The ‘Principled Communicative Approach’. In J. Arnold & T. Murphey (Eds.), Meaningful action: Earl Stevick’s influence on language teaching (pp. 161-171). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

–          Shumei Zhang (2009). The Role of Input, Interaction and Output in the Development of Oral Fluency. English Language Teaching. December 2009

–          Richard Badger, XiaoBao Yan (2009). To what extent is communicative language teaching a feature of IELTS classes in China. IELTS

–          Jack C. Richards (2006). Communicative Language Teaching today. Cambridge University Press

–          Jeremy Harmer (2001), The Practice of English Language Teaching.Essex: Pearson Education Ltd.