1. Does this sound familiar?
So many of our students tell us how they’ve tried all the traditional language schools and feel completely let down.
Their classroom experience has been depressing:
Restricted/generic vocabulary not relevant to their needs
Large classes with people of different levels
Inflexible schedules with fixed days and times
At the end of the course, they
Don’t have enough confidence to speak English
Feel they’ve learnt very little despite having spent a lot of money.
When among native or fluent English speakers they are lost and confused.
Possibly 90% of our new students say this or something similar.
The questions are: WHY and HOW can EnglishInsideOut help?
So, let’s explore the underlying issue.
2. Why Vertical not Horizontal Learning
The FUNDAMENTAL issues are
the traditional approach to learning English, based on a Horizontal methodology, is governed just by the need to pass exams at a particular level, rather than learning the language through COMMUNICATION which provides a much better and more intuitive base for excellent exam performance.
If you go to any of the English-speaking countries NO ONE speaks at just one level, for instance A1, B2, C1..., they use a language which covers all levels.
3. How Vertical Learning / Connections work
So Horizontal Learning is an unnatural way to learn and completely different to the way you learnt your native language.
As a young child you will have learnt your native language through word associations and connections, for instance, eating in the kitchen with your mother or father:
From simple words like “Spoon”, “Fork”, “Egg”, “Potatoes”, “Tomato”, “Salt” & “Pepper”
To more advanced vocabulary like “grub”, “gourmand”, "gobble"
Words with a wider meaning like “food”, “nutritious”
Phrases such as “I’m full” and Idioms & expressions like “to eat like a pig”, “I’m stuffed” and "wolf it down"
Words from the kitchen such as "hot" and "cold" can also be connected to other topics such as the weather, which can then be expanded to others topics such as science, climate and to idioms such as "it's raining cats and dogs", "fair weather friends" and "to be rained off".
So, in the real-world, Language learning is a Network of experiences that build connections and meanings in your brain. You learn at all levels and develop vertical competences, typically in areas or topics that interest you.Connections help you to remember.
HIGHLY bespoke, built around you
Choosing topics that will interest you
Building vocabulary naturally
The home as a starting point for Connections:
A vertical approach is also what we use for children, topics like the rooms in the house then the contents of the room – the kitchen, the fridge, what you will find inside the fridge...
This builds good everyday vocabulary with understanding of the words NOT BY TRANSLATION but by image, building connections to, for instance, the people in the house, parents, relatives…
As the picture here illustrates, learning becomes active, creative and enjoyable: the children are presented with the rooms of a house to colour, build and organise as they wish.
5. Academic English
Academic English is the formal language in which knowledge melds into a highly sophisticated language, typical of universities: it is a precise, cultured language that helps to describe processes, graphs with statistical data and experiments, which uses specific models with specific procedures to follow.
It is a language that helps to focus on what is relevant, to connect and harmonize the discourse in a fluid way and to put aside the too many frills with which neo-Latin languages in particular are coloured, because they do not add value, being just a useless distraction .
It is essential, through the use of synonyms and paraphrases, to avoid repetition: this means enriching our vocabulary, learning the subtle differences that exist between words that are very similar in meaning, but at the same time diversifying and broadening our horizons, avoiding fossilizing ourselves at that single level of knowledge.
Clarity is the basis of Academic English and Vertical Learning is naturally the basis of clear and coherent language which will help us on the one hand to pass exams to obtain the certification we need and on the other to be more fluent and accurate both in writing and in speech.
6. Work, Life & Business - Supercharged
The Vertical approach for Business has the benefit not just in improving business vocabulary but also in helping understand how business culture works in the English-speaking business world - how people actually communicate in Business, the idioms, what is already understood, the unwritten rules.
For instance for someone with an interest in Sales and Marketing we might build up to advanced texts & videos highlighting latest research or perhaps international examples of companies doing something different.
As examples we've used
Numerous texts from the Harvard Business Review and specialist trade magazines
Company Annual Reports from the Telecoms world focusing on what the management are saying and thus thinking.
Discussions about Big Company sales methodologies
Lean Management & Toyota - breaking conventional thinking.
The aim is not just to learn business vocabulary but to explore business culture in different parts of the world - the cultural base on which business relations are built and thus the base for understanding the language used and what it means.
Why might this be interesting to someone in Sales or Marketing? Well, it impacts Sales approaches, the balance between relationship, product & contract which are so very different in the Anglo-American world.
7. Military English
Similarly for the Military we've worked with Air Force and Naval Officers.
One Naval example used a BBC documentary where a Michelin 3 star chef spent time on a Nuclear submarine working to improve the sailors diet - with no cost increase. The subject matter was not only interesting but also drove vocabulary, illustrating the very different way people communicate in the Military.
Among the subjects covered with an Air Force colonel were
Articles from the specialist JAPCC Journal.
Another article linked here would challenge the best of English speakers! To simplify, it used the Matrix films as a metaphor for a new way of digital acquisition of military aircraft in the US DoD. Advanced stuff, also of interest to the IT specialist familiar with software development methodologies.