Learning a language at evening classes

If you are thinking about learning a language you may have considered taking an evening class. This is the time to be checking out what your local college has to offer and thinking whether you want to follow this approach to learning. Of course an evening class is just one of several ways of learning a language and you need to consider what method is best for you. There are many excellent self-study courses on the market, as books and tapes or interactive courses. You could consider the Open University. There may be courses at your local university. You could also take a course in the country where your chosen language is spoken. You could also consider hiring a private tutor. Perhaps you could get together with a few friends to share the cost of the tutor and make the classes more fun. As this is the time of year for signing up for adult education classes at your local college I am going to concentrate on evening classes.

Years ago it seemed that almost every conceivable language was available at the local adult education institute, although how many of them were actually viable I don’t know. Nowadays the number of languages available at a local college is much reduced, especially at advanced levels. I am assuming that anyone who has reached an advanced level will be considering alternative courses which may involve travel and additional expense. For the beginner the first consideration will be whether the language you want to learn is actually available. The next things to consider are the date and time of the course, the location of the centre and the cost of the course. If one or more of these are not suitable you will have to consider alternatives. Assuming the centre is not too far away and you have the transport to get there, the fees are within your budget and the date and time fit into your schedule, the next thing to think about is whether this is right for you. Many adult education centres have open evenings when you can go along and talk to tutors. If you are unsure about which level to sign up for or you want to know how you will be taught why not pop along to one of these evenings. In the meantime here are some general ideas to think about.

Evening classes usually go at quite a slow pace. If you want to go faster there is nothing to stop you reading ahead in the book , following a self-study course or doing any other extra work alongside the course. I would recommend doing extra study anyway but not everyone has the time. Even if you prefer to learn at your own pace attending a course once a week gives a marker in your schedule that helps to keep you on track. Knowing you have Hungarian on Tuesday may inspire you to get your books out on Sunday instead of watching the TV. It is also an opportunity to meet people who share your interest. It can be a problem if you can’t attend every week but you shouldn’t let that put you off. I have successfully completed several evening class courses despite having to miss every 3rd class because of shift work. If you are using a course book you can keep up with the class by reading ahead. Tutors are usually willing to send you work or suggest work for you to do. I always exhange email addresses with my students at the first class so they can tell me when they are going to be absent and I can send them copies of the handouts and tell them what page we have got to. I think having a course book is a good idea because the students can read ahead and it is easier to keep pace with the class when you are all using the same book. That doesn’t mean the classes have to go through the book slavishly. I always have lots of games and activities in my classes. Of course there are alternative methods of learning as I said before and only you will know if a specific evening class is right for you but whatever you decide I hope you find it enjoyable. The next post will be about preparing for your course and should contain helpful ideas for starting any language course.


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