There is a marked difference between language learning and language acquisition. Language learning stresses on the conscious memorisation of the grammatical structures of a language, whereas language acquisition implies a subconscious internalisation of the language through contextual usage. Eureka strives to help students by using methods of language acquisition, so English can become much more than just a subject to them, but the key to a global experience.
The Communicative Approach
‘I know grammar by ear only, not by note, not by the rules’. – Mark Twain
The renowned author Mark Twain sums up what we aim for students to achieve. Learning grammar and structures of a language are important and essential, but we believe that these are more effectively acquired through usage rather than memorisation. When teaching using the Communicative Approach, students are asked to use language for a purpose and for an audience. This puts elements of language into context and enables more effective comprehension.
Stephen Krashen, a leading expert in the study of second language acquisition, theorises that extensive grammar drilling may in fact reduce students’ willingness to use the language naturally, for fear of making a mistake. He suggests that the purpose of acquiring a language is to communicate, and that is where the focus of language education should be.¹
Making a difference in Hong Kong education
Our NETs and syllabus designers are well aware of the limitations of Hong Kong’s English education, which relies on traditional methods of language learning, such as rote-learning. Eureka offers a different approach.
We adopt the Communicative Approach and believe that students can only truly acquire a language when they enjoy and look forward to learning. Our curriculum includes games and activities that guide students through real conversations and offers space for them to experience English within the context of daily life. This is crucial for students of all ages, from young learners, to primary and secondary students, and even for adult learners.
For students who struggle with English, Eureka’s methods help them discover an interest in the language and therefore motivation to improve their skills. For high achieving students, it offers stimulating new challenges that pushes them to reach new heights.
We saw the fruits of our teaching methods last year at a local secondary school where students struggled with DSE English. Our dedicated NETs helped the students by finding methods and activities that suited the students’ needs and abilities. Through these activities, the students found confidence and motivation to push themselves further. As they began to enjoy learning English, they were naturally able to absorb what was taught in class. The results of this method of teaching was reflected in their final DSE results, where it was noted that there was significant improvement in students’ English reading, writing and speaking skills.
¹ Krashen, S. (1982), Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition, Pergamon Press Inc.