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Learning a foreign language

We might add... when everyone else speaks English. Well, here are some of the main reasons:

  • Actually, there are many more people in the world who don’t speak English than do!
  • Just think how much time and effort those who have learnt English have put into their studies; shouldn’t we make some effort as well in acknowledgment of this?
  • Even learning a limited amount of the language can make a huge difference to the benefit derived from a trip overseas.
  • Learning a language is often a key to understanding a people and a culture.
  • You only really understand your own language when you can compare it with others.
  • Learning a language is mentally stimulating and fascinating in its own right.
  • In most countries around the world, it is taken for granted that educated people will speak at least one foreign language.
  • New Zealand trades more with non-English-speaking countries than with those where English is the first language; surely some of us need to speak their languages.

On a very basic level, languages have two key components: vocabulary, the actual words, and grammar, which is the set of rules determining how the words are strung together to make sentences. And you encounter language in the form of the so-called four skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

You certainly can’t get away from the vocabulary; some language courses avoid too much grammar, and concentrate instead on certain situations, like buying a ticket or ordering a meal. Listening and speaking are the most important skills for most people; some courses don’t offer much reading, and may leave out writing altogether.

It all depends what you want.

Many books have been written on this subject... Different people have a preference for one approach over another.

While a few people seem to have the ability to learn a language from reading a book on the subject, there would probably be general agreement that it is hard to learn a language in this way. An audio course with cassettes or CD will work for some people. Others will find that Internet-based materials are effective.

Most people, though, will find that the above methods are secondary to the key one, which is interaction with an effective teacher. Language is a social experience, and we believe that it only really comes to live when it is used in a social context.

Not entirely, because children's acquisition of language is closely linked to the development of their brains. Some language courses try to imitate the child's learning processes as closely as possible, but others recognise that as adults with knowledge of one language already we can't go back to that language-free state we were in as infants.

Adults will always relate their second language to their first. Most adult courses recognise that, while we have lost the abilities we had as infants, we have acquired an understanding as adults which can be exploited to make language learning easier.

Somehow or other, vocabulary has to be learnt, and words have to be strung into sentences using grammar, which also has to be learnt. While some courses are undoubtedly more effective than others, at the end of the day, certain bits of language have to be understood and memorised.

Unless someone has discovered a wonder drug, it's hard to see how the magic results promised by some providers can be achieved.

At Euroasia, we are constantly exploring cutting-edge methods and technologies. If appropriate, we incorporate what we learn into the courses we offer, which are custom-made for native English speakers. With over 3000 New Zealanders who have completed one of our courses, we draw on a significant experience base in designing effective courses to help you learn a foreign language. Check out Why Euroasia.

Two points here:

  1. What do you mean by “learn a language”? To get by in everyday situations, to speak it like a native, or to reach one of many different stages in between? There’s a huge range of possible levels of competence, and a huge range in the amount of time needed. Which one do you hope to achieve?
  2. People are different; some pick up a language faster than others. The ads which say you will be speaking your target language by studying ten minutes a day, watching a video clip or simply listening to your Ipod while you exercise overlook this fact.

A typical Euroasia language course covers a range of topics. Even in this short space of time you can make really significant progress. If you can find time in between lessons to go over material, expand your vocabulary, listen to CDs, then you will undoubtedly make faster progress.

Few of us were. But do you know the best way to learn English grammar? By studying the grammar of a foreign language! You kill two birds with one stone.

At Euroasia, we try to keep the grammar as straightforward as possible, and we avoid using difficult terms. Some basic concepts are helpful, like “verbs” and “adjectives”, but we make sure people understand the terms we do use. At the beginners level, you will survive without knowledge of grammar, so don't let this stop you from learning a language.

You probably can’t avoid grammar for ever, so as you advance through the levels, we will progressively teach you more. Without grammar, you just learn words and phrases, but you can’t really put them together to make new sentences. It’s like adding up just using a plus sign (+). With grammar, you enter the world of multiplication (x)!. You can say so much more.

If you go to live in a new country without taking any course at all, what will probably happen is this: you will start to pick up odd words, then phrases; after a long time, you will begin to understand what people say to you, and you will be able to respond using your repertoire of set phrases; but you will find it very hard to use the language creatively. As you do not have the right foundation, you will likely be frustrated. After the initial euphoria of being able to understand a few terms here and there, you will encounter some brick walls as you are unlikely to pick up the rules of the language (grammar) simply by listening to others speak.

It’s much better to learn the basics of the language before you immerse yourself in this way. Once you have mastered those, then it makes sense to go and live in the country, if you have the opportunity, and start putting your knowledge into practice.

Many people will have a particular reason for learning a certain language. If you just have a desire to experience foreign language learning, it doesn't really matter which one you choose. Which country or culture interests you?

For example, at Euroasia, one of the languages we offer is Italian. Despite the fact that not many people speak Italian outside of Italy, we continue to get enrolments for Italian courses. We believe this is because New Zealanders are fascinated with Italy; Italian brands, Italian architecture and generally all things Italian!

Some people learn a language for business reasons. Various international organisations adopt "working languages" for day-to-day communications. Your career prospects would certainly be brighter if you are fluent in at least major one language other than English. Some examples of key working languages:

  • The United Nations has six official and working languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish). German also enjoys special status as a "documentary language".
  • The working languages of the Secretariat of the U.N. are English and French.
  • The World Trade Organization has three working languages: English, French, and Spanish.
  • The International Criminal Court has two working languages: English, and French.
  • The International Labour Organization has three working languages: English, French, and Spanish.
  • The International Olympic Committee has two working languages: English and French.
  • The European Commission has three working languages: English, French, and German.
  • The Free Trade Area of the Americas has two working languages: English and Spanish.
  • Mercosur has two working languages: Portuguese and Spanish.
  • NATO has two working languages: English and French.
  • FIFA has four working languages: English, French, German, and Spanish. Formerly, French was the sole official language of the organization. Currently, English is the official language for minutes, correspondence, and announcements.

From the point of view of children learning their first language, no! Children around the world acquire language at pretty much the same rate. But as adults learning a second language, we are likely to find languages which are more closely related to our own easier than others.

German and Dutch are the most closely related to English, but the Latin-based languages (e.g. French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese) have a lot of vocabulary in common with English, and some people find them easier. In any case, Euroasia courses are carefully structured so that you are only introduced to language you can comfortably cope with, and this works for the Asian languages (like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) as well.

Most languages are relatively easy to learn in the early stages. Check out some of our upcoming beginners courses.

Spanish. We consistently have more students for Spanish than for the other languages. Although in the past we used to have more learners of French and German, we have found that more New Zealanders are now interested in Spanish. Why is this? It could be because Latin America is fast becoming a popular travel destination. Spanish culture is also becoming more mainstream. Just look at the number of tapas bars and salsa schools in town. New Zealand also has a Free Trade Agreement with Chile and does a lot of business with Spanish-speaking countries. Spanish is also perceived to be a relatively easy language to learn.

A related question is "Which is the fastest growing language?" The answer is Chinese Mandarin. Given the perception that Chinese is a hard language to learn, this is somewhat surprising. So why are more New Zealanders interested in Mandarin these days? It could be to do with the fact that China's economy is fast-growing, and New Zealand is increasingly doing more business with China. China recently overtook Japan as the world's second largest economy. China also beat Germany as the world's largest exporter in 2010. At this rate, New Zealand will be more reliant on China not just as a source of imports, but also a large market for our exporters.

 

It certainly can! If you enjoy a challenge, new ideas, don't mind making mistakes, can play around with strange sounds...

You really open your mind, and there are a lot of laughs along the way!

Euroasia courses are designed for professionals who juggle their busy work lives and academic pursuits. This is why we will not subject our clients to boring lectures on obscure grammar points. If you desire a highly interactive language course where there's really no time to be bored, then consider coming to Euroasia.

Learning a foreign language with Euroasia

We could write a lot here and we do elsewhere, but the main points are:

  • Established education provider (founded in 2001)
  • Award-winning organisation (NBR Most Exciting Companies in Education -3rd place)
  • Specialists in foreign language teaching
  • Wide range of languages and levels
  • Small classes(of no more than 10 people)
  • Attractive, centrally-located premises
  • Lively, native-speaker teachers
  • Courses carefully designed to suit our clients
  • Stimulating courses, yet with realistic targets
  • Quality assurance throughout the organisation
  • Regular social activities
  • Free seminars on language learning
  • Free level test and needs test prior to enrolment
  • Easy on-line enrolment

So it’s a combination of reasons! Join us and see for yourself.

The most popular European languages are French, German, Spanish and Italian. Sometimes we also have classes running in Dutch, Portuguese and Russian. The most popular Asian languages are Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Our courses are available in 6 levels. The learning outcomes at each level are clearly defined. However, some of our clients have been with us for more than 6 levels, and continue to maintain their language skills in an advanced conversational practice class.

If you want to make a real commitment to language learning, and save money: enrol for our 4-course Gold Package. This takes you from beginner level up to a point where you can expect to get by in a wide range of everyday situations.

If we do not have a particular language or level to suit you, why not take a one-to-one class, or come and see us with a friend who would like to study with you? Our arrangements for private tuition are very flexible.

Contact us and one of our language experts will be able to quickly determine your level. We can also arrange for you to speak with the teacher. Our needs test might also be useful. The results of the level test will give you a pretty good idea which level is right for you. Ultimately, you choose which level is right for you, but remember you are welcome to call and discuss the issue with us.

Most teachers use a variety of methods as they help you to learn. Euroasia has its course outcomes which teachers are expected to achieve, but we also recognise that different teachers work most effectively in different ways, and so we do not insist on one formal method over another.

That said, teachers do all follow certain basic principles. We expect a lot of emphasis to be placed on listening to authentic language and learning to cope first of all with everyday situations. Especially at lower levels, we try not to introduce too many difficult grammatical points.

A unique feature of Euroasia courses is that we have a maximum of 10 students per class, who are seated in a horseshoe formation facing each other. We do not believe the standard classroom approach of having 30 students facing a lecturer droning on about grammar is conducive to language learning.

This approach allows our teachers to use the target language as much as possible, and have a variety of active and lively exercises to practise new material. Students are encouraged to take an active part in lessons (which won't happen if the class is too big). We also encourage students to do some additional work between lessons. And last but not least, all our teachers create an environment in which language learning is an enjoyable social experience.

No one is denying that there are many competent non-native teachers around. We prefer native speakers because we believe that learning a language is a cultural experience, and to really understand the culture of the country in the most authentic way, you benefit most from contact with native speakers.

Yes! We arrange lively events with cultural themes, from restaurant trips to wine tasting, parties and film nights. We are also planning field trips to Europe and Asia in the near future. We suggest that our clients encourage and support one another in the language learning process.


Practicalities

We have a streamlined enrolment process, all you have to do is to:

1) choose the course you want;
2) complete a simple enrolment form (we need your contact details);
3) pay online via Visa/Mastercard (or by Direct Credit if you prefer).

You will immediately get an email from us confirming your enrolment, with dates/times and venue details.

However, you are welcome to talk to us by calling 0800 387627 anytime, and we will help you if you are having problems.

Absolutely. Please call us on 0800 EUROASIA (0800 387 627), if you have any questions about anything at all (eg if you want to talk about which language or level suits you best). If for any reason you can’t get through, please leave a message and we will call you back as soon as possible. You are also welcome to visit our Auckland centre at 10 Titoki Street, Parnell (between Birthcare and ACG Parnell College). Do call us prior to making your trip so that we can make sure the right person is around to answer your questions.

Just come to reception. One of our staff members will be looking out for you, and we'll tell you where to go. All you need to do is to bring a pen and notebook; we'll take care of everything else.

It doesn't happen very often, but if we do need to cancel, then of course we give you the option of transfer to another course at a later date or a full refund of all fees.

Let us know not less than one week before the start of the course, and we will transfer the fees to a later date or refund your fees, less an administration fee of $60.

We accept payments by:

  • VISA or Mastercard,
  • Direct credit into our bank account
  • EFTPOS
  • cheque
  • cash
  • Euroasia gift voucher

We do ask that our clients pay upfront in order to confirm their enrolment in a course. As we accept enrolments on a first-come-first-served basis, sometimes the more popular classes do fill up pretty quickly, so it pays to enrol early.

No. The course fee you pay includes all course materials. The reason we do not ask students to buy textbooks is because:

1) the standard textbook is designed for full time language learners and hence not very appropriate for adult professionals;
2) generally standard textbooks put a heavy emphasis on learning grammar from the very start. This puts off a lot of students;
3) text books are designed for equal emphasis on reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. Given we do not emphasise on reading/writing skills at the beginners level, the books are sometimes not a very good fit with our teaching approach.
4) textbooks are very expensive, and if you only use 10% of the book in a course, it's not great value for money.

We do encourage language learners to buy a dictionary though; whether it's paper or electronic doesn't matter. In fact those of you with IPhones/Ipods may well consider dictionaries and translation apps on the Appstore.

For most of our lower-level standard courses, students will be issued with a coursebook at your first class.

It all depends. If there is space in the class, and we believe we can fit you in without inconveniencing the other students, then we will certainly consider. We may be able to arrange catch-up lessons. Please contact us to discuss this.

First of all, talk to your teacher, or come and talk to the management staff. If it seems to be the right thing to do, and we have space in a more appropriate class, then we will of course move you.

Our introductory courses are set at a fairly easy level. However, it is possible that some people, especially if they have never learnt a language before, will find certain aspects of the course a little difficult. Don’t worry! You are not alone! Talk to your teacher, as there may be some extra things you could do to improve. If, towards the end of the course, you feel that things are still not clear, think about repeating the course at the same level. Some people feel they need two attempts to really get the hang of it.

This happens occasionally. If you really have a “flair for languages”, you may prefer to join a higher-level class, even if you haven’t completed all the material in between. Some people are happy to study certain points themselves to fill in the gaps; they take the course not so much to understand the grammar and so on as to practise using the language in real life. Alternatively, the teacher can suggest additional material that you can work through to supplement what you are covering in class.

What our students say
  • “Since attending classes at Euroasia my Mandarin has improved a lot. I can talk about a lot of different things now and I can understand more than I could before. Thank you.”

    Rachel Booth
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