What are the goals of a one-on-one conversation class?
1. Maximizing the student's spoken time in the target language by conversing about established and new lesson-related topics in the target language: This is the best use of a student's time. Students paying for language learning lessons with a teacher/tutor most likely don't have access to a native speaker of the language they are studying. Therefore, the primary goal of the class is to maximize the time spent speaking, and interacting, in the student's language of study. In short: speak, speak, and speak.
2. Correcting mistakes and improving fluency and pronunciation: This improves the student's speaking ability and can be done while keeping the conversation in the target language of study by a talented teacher.
3. Reviewing and practicing material from assigned lesson: Review and practicing reinforces patterns and material studied and keeps the conversation in the target language. However, this tends to be less "speaking" practice, so much as it is "repetition" or "reading aloud" practice. While very valuable to study tool, it should not be the primary focus of a conversation class.
4. Answering the student's questions about difficulties with the target language: The fourth goal will tend to increase the time outside the student's target language of study, as the student is out of their comfort zone and explanations will usually be in the student's native or a commonly understood language, not the target language.
5. Explaining new grammar and vocabulary: This increases the time outside the student's target language of study, as the student is learning a new topic and explanations will usually be in the student's native or a commonly understood language, not the target language.
In a digital content world, the student has access to a world wide web of explanations and information on a large number of topics. In addition, the material is most likely in the textbook or study material being used. They can find explanations or definitions online or in textbooks, so the fourth (#4) and fifth (#5) goals are not ideal for a 1-on-1 conversation class.
However, valuable conversation class time is often spent on introduction of new vocabulary, phrases, and grammar points, explanation about the new material, answering student questions, and then practice to reinforce the new material.
Why do most conversation classes use a system that focuses on explanations in the student's native language instead of maximizing student's time speaking the target language?
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