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FAQ's

1. Why not take a conversation class with a teacher who is a native speaker?
2. If practicing with native speakers is so important, why not go live in a place where everyone speaks that language?
3. Are these workshops something new you created just for the Internet?
4. Language exchange practice with a teacher sounds like a great idea. So, why aren뭪 all the language schools offering it?
5. Can I really learn by talking on the Internet?
6. Why don뭪 you use video conferencing?


1. Why not take a conversation class with a teacher who is a native speaker?

In a conversation class, your teacher is the only native speaker. This creates two disadvantages.

One, it means most of the time you are practicing your vocabulary, grammar and listening comprehension from non-native speakers like yourself. The larger the class size, the less interaction you will have with your teacher and the less effective your practice will be. In the Language Exchange Workshops however, you interact with native speakers all the time.

Two, your teacher, by his/her very training may have a tendency to speak with 뱎roper grammar and vocabulary, etc. This is different from the real language you will encounter in real immersion. In the Language Exchange Workshops, you will practice with native speakers who are not teachers, thus exposing you to the language you are most likely to encounter in the real world.

Another advantage to the Language Exchange Workshops is that once you learn how to practice effectively, you can do it on your own with a partner.


Back to the questions

2. If practicing with native speakers is so important, why not go live in a place where everyone speaks that language?

Complete cultural immersion can be a good way to become fluent. But it can also be frustrating or scary. In this real world environment, people are not usually concerned about helping you learn their language. They will speak fast, perhaps with a lot of slang and expressions not taught in your classes. If they speak your language, they may simply switch, not giving you a chance to practice. In the worst scenario, you can get stuck and not be able to communicate at all! Students considering immersion can better prepare for their immersion by practicing first with native speakers in the friendly and supportive environment provided by the Language Exchange Workshops.


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3. Are these workshops something new you created just for the Internet?
Actually, no. Helene Cormier뭩 workshops were first developed in a live face-to-face setting in Montreal. They have helped hundreds of students become fluent since 1998. (Read their testimonials here.) Her proven method was adapted to work on the Internet and in the summer of 2001, she taught her first online workshops, connecting students in Montreal and southern United States, resulting in satisfied students who are eager to continue. (Read their testimonials here.)


Back to the questions

4. Language exchange practice with a teacher sounds like a great idea. So, why aren뭪 all the language schools offering it?

They haven뭪 had the opportunity to develop the expertise. In almost all places of the world, it is simply not possible or profitable for a teacher or language school to develop expertise in language exchange. Developing this skill requires large numbers of native speakers of different languages who want to become fluent in the other language. Montreal is one of the rare exceptions, with large numbers of French and English native speakers. Helene Cormier뭩 language exchange workshops are considered by many to be the best in the city. Now thanks to the Internet, this unique and effective learning opportunity is available to you no matter where you live.


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5. Can I really learn by talking on the Internet?

Yes. Experience shows that you can learn effectively in the simultaneous voice and text chat environment. The voice quality provided by the software we use is excellent. A lot of information is conveyed in the voice alone. It is similar to the emotional cues you pick up in a phone conversation. It makes a difference, for example, if you smile when you talk on the phone.

In addition, the text chat feature that complements the voice chat actually creates an advantage over learning in a face-to-face environment. For example, your teacher can write down the words or expressions in the conversation that give you difficulties. It would appear instantly in front of you like subtitles in a movie. There is no distraction: no turning to look at the whiteboard, or reaching to see a scribble on a sheet of paper. It also makes it easy for you to write something for everyone in your group to see.


Back to the questions

6. Why don뭪 you use video conferencing?

We don뭪 use video because we want to maximize the quality of the voice signal. This is important for conversation practice where you will work on your pronounciation and listening comprehension.

In addition, video conferencing software, such as Netmeeting are more difficult to use. Using video also tends to make your software less reliable.


Back to the questions

August 29, 2001  



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