Spanish (¡ Hablamos español !)

We at the Modern Language Institute apply a functional approach to the teaching of languages. A heavy emphasis is placed upon the acquisition of conversational skills. Although basic grammatical structure is taught, the focus is not strictly upon the rules of grammar so much as it is upon having the students gain a rapid degree of remedial fluency. Stated simply, the primary goal of this course is to have the students begin communicating as soon as possible.

Learning a second language requires the mind of an adult to create “word files,” and develop an understanding of the “unique logic” of the new language. Adults who fail to recognize the various patterns of this “unique logic,” will tend to translate directly from their mother tongue in their initial attempts to speak in their new language.

Young children, on the other hand, possess the phenomenal ability to learn language automatically. This is due, in part, to the absence of a pre-existing “word file” or any prior “language logic.” Although it is impossible to erase firmly ingrained patterns that already exist in the mind of the adult learner, it is possible to teach the older student to adapt to the “unique logic” of a second language spontaneously.

The method utilized by the Modern Language Institute is one that encourages the students to think in their newly acquired language immediately. This enables the student to assimilate the “unique logic” of the new language in much the way that a child would absorb the same information. This method also allows the student to begin communicating quickly, which is the essential element of the functional approach.

A general description of our courses include:

The BASIC COURSE (Approximately 10 months) introduces the student to Spanish, emphasizing the language as it is spoken today. This course is designed to develop speaking skills. The simple and frequently used forms such as present tense are taught initially. As the student’s grammar base and vocabulary increases, the range of topics for discussion broadens in complexity.

The INTERMEDIATE COURSE (Approximately 10 months) is designed to give the students a clear picture of the form and function of Spanish. In order to increase comprehension, develop vocabulary, and reinforce learned material, this course provides practice exercises focusing on listening, reading and writing.

The ADVANCED COURSE (From 1 to 2 years depending on students’ need) is designed to help the student understand grammatical functions naturally by putting theory into practice. This course provides listening, reading and writing exercises in order to improve the student’s already high degree of fluency.

Immerse in Guadalajara !
The Modern Language Institute, now, offers an immersion course. The intermediate to advanced level classes will be held in Guadalajara, Mexico. Although the format for this course is still in the primary stage, a systematic and standardized approach continues to evolve. The flexibility to meet each student’s individual needs is incorporated with a dynamic method of learning which allows for the student’s input regarding, among other things, extra-curricular activities.

Our Spanish immersion course addresses idioms as well as lingering problems with tense and syntax that often prevent the student from becoming completely facile, and readily understood in the second language. Clearly, this course is open only to those students’ on the verge of fluency.

It is universally accepted that the best way to master a foreign language, is to live in the country where it is spoken for an extended period of time. Since this luxury is available only to a few, the next best way to learn a foreign language is generally accepted to be through an immersion program. Language teachers agree that immersion is a necessary and final step that the intermediate-advanced student must undertake.

The Spanish immersion course is estimated to require from 1-2 weeks depending upon the students’ level of proficiency. The course work is demanding. However, extra-curricular activities are emphasized. Students are encouraged to visit museums, markets and historical sites.

Overall, this is a communication rather than grammar based approach. Once the student has passed the basic and intermediate levels, drills and repetition no longer serve any purpose, and may be, in fact, counterproductive. Stagnation is what bores the student of any new language. Communicative language teaching is an approach. It is not a strict methodology. Developed from the tested theories of renowned British linguists and American educators, the emphasis of notional-functional concepts and communicative competence, rather than mere grammatical structures, is central to language teaching and rapid learning. Through a wide variety of activities, students of the communicative approach learn almost as naturally as children do.

In this way, through a variety of stimulating activities such as games, task-based activities and communication practice, the student will be introduced to modern Spanish culture as well as its rich heritage. Additionally, only native speakers conduct the classes giving students both the opportunity to hear the language in its authentic form as well as to become acquainted with individuals representative of the Spanish culture.