There is something called ‘language acquisition’ and ‘language learning’. Although they both seem to be similar, they are not the same thing.
What is the acquisition of a (second) language?
Also known as the sequential acquisition of languages, it is the learning of a second language once the basic acquisition of the mother tongue is completed.
What is the best way to teach the second language?
Many factors come into play when deciding the best method for teaching the second language, including:
- The language spoken at home.
- Opportunities to practice the second language.
- The level of motivation of the student.
- The reason why the second language is necessary (eg, to learn at school, to talk to a friend, or for work).
The second language can be presented in different ways:
- Depending on the environment (eg, only English at school and only Spanish at home).
- Depending on the topic (eg, only French during meals and Spanish during school or work activities).
- According to the speaker (eg, the mother speaks only German and the father speaks only Russian).
The person’s ability to use the second language will depend on the language skills of the people in their environment and their ability to speak more than one language.
It is here when an English language course abroad differs from a school year. English language courses abroad take into account all the aforementioned factors. Its specialty is not that the person only learns the language (like schools), but that they acquire it through their environment. It will never be the same to have to use a second language for everything (socialise, go shopping, and even ask something to a stranger) than to use it in a single environment on an occasional basis (a class at high school).
If anyone does a quick examination to the methodologies and techniques for studying English that are used in most schools, it is easy to realise that communication skill is neglected or even ignored. The major focus goes on grammar, hearing, patterns and memorisation (and they most likely will never use a human interlocutor).
These classes do not offer a chance to engage in conversations, therefore, you never get the chance to get any language independence. Listening to a CD and repeating all the words or phrases time and time again can’t be considered as communication. That’s a simple pattern memorisation; and even if you learn lots of phrases, they will never allow you to have any effective communication; how can you be expected to communicate if you never have the opportunity to chat with real people?
If you really want to acquire English as your second language, there are some options that could be your best bet: English language schools, high school foreign exchange programs, summer language course abroad and English language courses abroad. They have high standards for their teaching methods, and from the hands of native speakers. Not only would they be your opportunity to go abroad and know a little more about the world, they can also be the key to success for different goals you have; like being admitted in top universities and getting a master’s degree.
Below, we will tell you about the other advantages of international schools (English Language Homestays) offer.
1. Language skills
Being in a totally immersive environment in which the language is spoken natively will represent a challenge that will drive you to develop your skills and abilities. You will have to use the language in everyday situations, and there will be no way for you to avoid it. All your interactions, from the simplest (such as reading or listening to advertisements on the street, watching television programs) to the most complex (speaking with your friends, teachers, or eating out) will be in the language you are trying to learn.
All these daily interactions will expand your vocabulary (because in addition to learning new words, you will also learn popular slang, idioms and colloquialisms) and they will help you have a much fuller understanding of the language.
2. Life experience.
As an international student, you will have the opportunity to observe new and different cultures. You will have to learn to fend for yourself in a culture unknown to you where everything will probably be very different from how it was back at home; from socializing to grocery shopping. The ability you will acquire to overcome these daily challenges will be useful for other moments in your life.
3. Independence and confidence.
Being away from home and your family will make you independent in many different ways. You must learn to solve different problems on your own, and deal with different tasks that you might not have taken into account when you were at home (washing your own clothes, cooking, among others).
4. It will improve your resume
Learning a second language will leave a great impression on your future employers (or universities to which you wish to apply). Taking the time to learn another language shows dedication and intelligence, but studying abroad takes it to a higher level of capacity which they will surely like.
5. International Travelling
You can consider this as an extended vacation. While it is true that you have to study and go to classes, you can spend your free time exploring a city you did not know.
6. Forget prejudices
When you have spent most of your life in one country, you get used to the locals’ way of thinking. By having to live in another country, you will understand other cultures and their ways of thinking and acting, so you will learn to interact with people who do not necessarily represent your ways of thinking. In addition, you will be able to know everything in greater depth, which will give you knowledge of new traditions and to deny myths about other local traditions that you took for proven facts.
7. Superior study skills
Studying a language course in a foreign school will be very different from other school experiences you have had. Your ways of studying will be very different, since you will not have people who are constantly keeping track of everything you do. You will learn to organise yourself according to the new campus and the new teaching style, which will improve your studying skills.
For English language course abroad in South Africa
Participating in a High School Programme in South Africa is the best way of mastering your English skills and experiencing the South African way of life at the same time.