If I recall my memory of learning a foreign language like English in Taiwan, the teachers usually start from a list of vocabulary and grammars. Then after the class, teachers give homework to make students memorize these things and give a test in next day.
Basically every day is memorizing and testing.
Stressful and boring.
Here in Finland studying a foreign language is totally different!!
The Finnish course I had was taught very interestingly.
From the first day to the third day, today, the total length of classes were around 10 hours (3.5 hours a day).
There was no any explanation of grammars.
There was no any indication of “memorizing these at home tonight”.
There was no test!
As a person who learned English and Japanese as foreign languages, memorization is the most basic thing people should do while they are studying a foreign language based on my experience.
However, without tests and homework, how could we memorize?
This is the key point about how they teach.
For example, it’s necessary to remember how to greet each other. The teacher prepared the basic questions and answers, such as “how are you?” and “Good, thanks!” or “Thanks!” and “Welcome!”, written on small papers. There were around 15 pairs of questions and answers, and questions are written on green papers and answers are on yellow papers.
Then, the whole 20 students were divided into 4 groups to think how to pair the corresponding questions and answers.
After pairing, we went to the other 3 groups to check their results.
So simple and easy!
Like a game for elementary school kids!
Did you notice?
In this simple game, you saw the same question-answer pairs for 4 times, which means you practiced 4 times!
Indeed, this method may not be as efficient as the way of just memorizing at home and having tests on next day, but there is no stress from “I have to memorizing these for the test tomorrow”.
There is one another impressive instance.
The teacher made us listen to a Finnish song yesterday.
Before listening to the song, one thing came out in my head was that this teacher will let us listen to some children songs!
But it was not like that.
The song was a song for adults, which is called “Hyvää yötä ja huomenta”.
For certain, I got no meanings and understood nothing from listening. It was not even able to be a part of listening practice.
However, the teacher said that you don’t need to understand the meaning. You just need to listen to it.
Then, we listened and finished.
Nothing about checking vocabulary or grammars.
I just thought, “OOOhhh!! How could a language class be like this!? We can learn nothing like this!”
But I tried to think the purpose of this. I figured out that enjoying should be the most important part in learning a new language. Even though I don’t understand the meaning of the song, I can enjoy the song and feel the tone of the language by listening to it. I guess this is the purpose of the teacher to make students feel interested in this new language.
What do you think about this? Interesting? Useless?