Language learning is an important part of Armada’s programming, and we spend a lot of our time researching and developing new strategies. This serves a double purpose: we figure out what works with our team, which helps us communicate and collaborate better, but we can also convert those insights into curricula to be used with our young learners.
First off, we actually don’t rely on “learning” per se. Instead, we aim to grow in our language abilities through natural acquisition, a process that attempts to use gradual, mother tongue-style absorption rather than learning and memory. This happens primarily through being exposed to "comprehensible language input," in which content may be unfamiliar but meaning can be inferred. That way, learners can really hone in on the meaning of any given sentence or word, rather than trying to logically make sense of the form that it takes grammatically.
Ideally, this will lead to “natural gain,” which stands in contrast to the way typical language strategies work. Many people approach a language through memorization and mechanical learning, and the result is that they draw on learned knowledge when using it. Acquisition, on the other hand – comprehensible inputs, the process of guessing, developing a natural, conditioned reflex for words – is aimed at a deeper, more instinctual use.
Here are some basic principles :
- We hope to allow learners to actually think in the language they’re trying to learn.
- We shouldn’t master a language through translation and memory – instead, we directly expose learners to ideas, concepts or images alongside their foreign-language names, in order to form a conditioned reflex.
- We don’t directly teach grammar – mastery of grammar is a subconscious process that shouldn’t happen through conscious learning.
- In language understanding, we focus on meaning instead of form.
- The key is to provide comprehensible inputs, which allow for informed guessing and naturally-built ability.
Finally: we’ve realized that emotional factors play an important role in promoting or inhibiting language growth. As much as possible, we try to work on language skills under relaxed conditions, which boosts the language input’s effects.