[Learn Extreme]: This is how we do it!
Katarzyna Cybula11 kwietnia 2019
Language Extreme. That’s our name. When you think of the two words that make it, “language” needs no explanation. We all know it’s a system of signs, in speech, in writing or in images. It could be characteristic of a particular country, area, or time. We take it for granted.
What about “extreme”? Well… It’s vague and puzzling. It’s relative, yet intriguing. And to top it all off, it’s not coincidental. It defines us. Shows our beliefs. Our courage and fancy. And above all, it establishes a standard for us to work and live by.
Today there are nine of us. Tomorrow there will be more. Each different and extreme in their own ways, with various experiences and sensitivity. There are similarities, though. One thing we all fear is boredom. In any of its morbid forms: repetition, obviousness, predictability. We have seen its symptoms with our own eyes: the sleepiness of body, the slowness of mind, the frustration of soul. We have screamed with terror, and run far from the boredom of what we have known too well.
We’re more than aware that teaching has an awful reputation, and books are partly to blame. While we love them as hell, we want to read (and teach) universally, to get to know texts in various (mostly authentic) forms, also outside the page. That’s life: we learn various codes to live various lives. Real, virtual, but always away from boredom and never simplified. The fact that the coursebook is not there doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from. Just consider the following adventurous and thought-provoking tasks we implement, and experience ourselves, within our language courses:
Virtual Reality Against Boredom
The use of Playstation VR goggles allows us to train two communication skills: empathy and accuracy, both in a team-building manner. The general task is as exciting as the game we have chosen: in the case of Resident Evil VII: Biohazard, you will put the goggles on, and explore an abandoned house in search of your missing wife, Mia. Search one room after another, explaining to your fellow-students how the space is organized, while they draw a map of the house based on your detailed descriptions. The wording, selection, and sequence of information you provide will affect the shape of the drawing, and your colleagues’ chances to find Mia when their turn comes. And Mia is no normal strife. Oh, no! Your darling jumps down a ladder, lands her chainsaw right at your chest, and starts her terrifying dance. And you? You’re focused on the minutia of what to say: a wooden pillar in the middle of the room, two armless dummies in the right-hand-side distant corner of the badly-lit living room, an oak chest of drawers nearby the unmade bed, two broken TV sets. And your guys keep on drawing. Has English ever been that much of fun?
Marshmallows for Creativity
Kasia’s personal best among our tasks is… spaghetti marshmallow challenge. There’s no cooking, though! Get your trainees 20 sticks of dry spaghetti, one yard of string, one yard of tape and a marshmallow. As simple as that. “Wait what?! Are you kidding me? How on earth am I supposed to learn English this way???”, you might say. Patience, dear Watson, patience. This task works miracles when it comes to team communication. And not only that! It encourages the design mindset and exercises basic engineering principles. Yet, you still insist on more, don’t you? Picture this. Once a team is given a handful of supplies to work with and the time is set (18 minutes), they are to build the tallest possible tower that can support a marshmallow. The exercise includes thinking, doing, prototyping, and iteration. And, above all, it will make sure you communicate in English! There is grammar, too. If you are about to learn the rules of the First or Zero Conditionals, there’s no better way. It’s practical and intuitive. And comes so naturally. A win-win. You are now getting curious, aren’t you? Should you aim at learning more, watch this TED talk and get a supply of spaghetti ASAP! With us, obviously!
Mamba for Negotiations
Using yummy Mambas, we simulate a real-life example of a negotiation that each of us can experience. Namely: a job interview. It so happens that while trying to get a job, we tend to forget about salary ranges and lose our leverage because we will settle for anything, only to get the position. How many times have you thought: “Well, could I possibly ask for more?” or “Haven’t I just asked for too much?”. I guess most of us have been there. Using proper and coherent arguments and working towards a win-win solution can move mountains. That’s why we want our students to practise. Just imagine. Two teams: one of recruiters, the other: of interviewees. A random number of Mambas is given to the recruiters; that’s the budget they have. The others are supplied with cards and learn how much money (fruit chews) they previously earned. Negotiation ensues: of details concerning the position, of the perks on offer and of the skills required. Both sides are provided with expressions helpful to get involved in a fluent discussion. And now the fun part: the hunger games. Why this way? Firstly, Mamba fruit chews boost engagement. It is fun and useful to train your communication skills by implementing a yummy scenario. Moreover, we all know that negotiations take place on a daily basis. Not only in one’s business, but also private life. Therefore, one needs to learn and practise how to negotiate effectively. And only practice will make you perfect.
Quizlet against Memory Loss
We all know words. A plethora of them. And still, it’s pretty hard to recall them at times. Especially when you feel under pressure. Everybody knows the pain when you do your best to get the message across and fail miserably because there’s this little something at the tip of your tongue. And you wish you knew what this something is… Here and now. Not in five minutes’ time. There’s a solution to that: meet Quizlet. An app that will never let you down. It’ll always be at hand(or, to be clear: in your beloved cell phone). Available at home, work, on your train, during your coffee break, and even on holidays! And trust me, Quizlet has a lot to offer: flashcards, writing and spelling practice, not to mention pronunciation patterns, matching games, gravity (you’ll be the one to save other planets from incoming asteroids!) as well as self-test option and a live Quizlet section. Jaw-dropping, huh?
Shipbuilding to Make You Wordy
We pride ourselves on creativity in the ways we develop your vocabulary. No more passive exercises! So… Think of a ship. Would you be willing to make a model of one yourself? “Of course! Who wouldn’t???”. Firstly, a list of words required is prepared as a Quizlet course. When in a meeting, the vocabulary to be applied is revised (by matching English definitions with proper technical terms, for example), and then an envelope with a set of instructions is opened. A leader of your team reads the steps out loud so that the rest of the group can proceed accordingly. Everyone should be involved; teamwork makes the dream work – remember? If the group doesn’t understand some parts of the instruction, we (or a member who understands, alternatively) can always help by paraphrasing. The main objective is to revise and turn passive vocabulary into active one. Making a model ship is just a way to make the group reach our goal. Memorising vocabulary can be diverting; however, it doesn’t have to be mundane at all. Besides, by applying such tasks, you learn how to communicate and cooperate with others – that is, you learn two absolutely indispensable skills when you want to be competitive on a labour market, not only as a ship design engineer.
Cardboard Boss for Small Talk
It’s widely acknowledged that small talk can either get out of hand or end up in silence, especially in a foreign language. And under such circumstances it’s far from pleasures that chit-chats may provide us with. We all have been there and, therefore, we want you to be prepared for that. Meeting your CEO in a lift makes a life opportunity to make small talk, doesn’t it? Would you know how to strike up a conversation? Oh… It’s so abstract that you can’t really picture it? We’ll handle it for you. A life-size cardboard cut-out of your boss will work wonders here as stimulating material. The purpose of such task is to practise one-minute impromptu exchanges. One by one. And one-to-one. These all performed in a random way, with your colleagues serving as audience. You never know when your turn will come. The element of surprise and stress you may have to tackle will definitely affect your performance. This way it’ll resemble real-life encounters and, believe it or not, will teach you a lesson of how to behave around your boss next time. Wanna try?
Film as Fuel
Stimulation. Stimulation. Stimulation: in language training, your brain works best if it is shocked, pushed, strained, and encouraged. For such bombardments to be satisfying and safe at the same time, we choose the moving image. When it comes to building your speaking skills, and reducing inhibitions, films are our very favourite food for thought. Speaking of which: Jan Svankmajer’s Food (1992) leaves you changed for life. VIDEO Can you describe what you see? Can you explain the fancy? Gorgeous then! Try to check your listening skills with some lovely passages from the BBC’s Bodyguard. Describe your routines with an adaptation of Beckett’s Act Without Words II. Check how nicely you can solve the Einstein riddle. Or… Beat Moriarty with your speed and intelligence while solving crime riddles like these. Find the killer within 15 seconds, get to know the cause of death, overcome all the obstacles Moriarty (the teacher) will place in your path. If your team of Watsons is quick enough with providing the solutions, you score points, and win burgers, beers, muffins – you name the prize. Don’t let Moriarty win this time! And if you think that’s all form us in that field, you couldn’t be more wrong! Bizarre festivals or celebrations? Take the International Day of Happiness (20th March) as an example and celebrate it with your group. It’ll be perfect to revise body parts and there’s only one idea for this lesson: guided body scan. Youtube is full of body scan meditations that both help to revise body parts with your eyes closed and calm you down during the English lesson on a hard day at work. Obviously, some hyperactive students feel like escaping after 2 minutes, but most of the class enjoy the meditation session and their brains are better prepared for grasping the news. They leave the classroom not only relaxed, but also more aware of their body parts, as the body scan is superintuitive and it’s difficult to get lost.
So, you already know a lot about us and how we approach teaching and learning. Fact #1: We do not follow coursebooks. You might already have learnt our motivations. Surrounded by English, why rely on outdated and simplified versions of texts, recordings and videos? Fact #2: Authentic material is key. If we’re flooded with thought-provoking and inspiring content, it is our task as your trainers to use these in the best way possible. Fact #3: It’s there. English, I mean. One may learn in various ways and by applying multiple methods or styles. Yet, only by doing so naturally, will they not be puzzled when facing a real-life struggle. Fact #4: We design what we teach. And we do it for our trainees by delivering well-planned courses tailored to their specific needs. Only for them. Now your turn. Just think of it: what if we are THE WAY that matches your needs, only in a bit more extravagant or unpredictable manner? Should you have any queries or be willing to share your experiences or expectations with us, drop us a line at: email@example.com. We will be super glad to help.