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You will meet with your professor on Mondays, Wednesdays andFridays during which you will be introduced to various linguisticstructures. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the class is split in twogroups, each of which meets with a Language Assistant. Because of thesmaller number of students in the Tuesday and Thursday sessions, youwill find them a unique opportunity for improving your speakingability. Some of these sessions will be held in the Modern LanguageLab where you will be introduced to some internet-based activities aswell as lab exercises.
To improve your writing skills, there will be a writtencomposition at the end of every chapter. Your composition must be onepage, typed, and double-spaced (about 300 words). You will beexpected to use the vocabulary and grammar material of the lessonpreviously studied. The instructor will not correct the compositionfor you, but will instead give you directions on how to make your owncorrections according to the following key. The corrections will bedue three days after you receive your composition (Friday after aMonday return date, for example). You will not receive a grade if thecomposition is not corrected. All the computers in the MLC and thecomputer lab have a copy of Système-D and Sans-Faute Grammairewhich are writing tools in French. This type of software hasvocabulary and grammar functions which will help you makecorrections. There will be a small workshop at the beginning of theterm to familiarize you with these electronic resources.
I also like that it starts with sentences, but that's hardly unique, just something in its favour. Your first experience with speaking a language is then using proper grammar, and you have grammatically correct sentences to refer to as a test of your understanding of grammar rules to construct a sentence. It also gets you speaking pretty fast. 5 days in I decided to strike up a conversation with a non-native Japanese speaking friend. I could keep it going for a couple minutes before I just didn't know enough to keep going and wasn't able to understand her answers, but it was still impressive nonetheless.
In my experience, having studied 10 languages over the years, Pimsleur is the only one that works. It doesn't teach you every word in the language, but it gets you started so that once you arrive in the country, you can start speaking and are taken seriously as someone who can "deal" in that language. Then the rest follows.Your accent and rhythm are superb -- and added vocabulary comes with time. For languages with hard vocabulary, I make notes on the lessons, look up the words and make flash cards. On the Indonesian CDs, maddeningly, the time they give you to speak is often a bit too short, so I have the pause button ready so I can collect myself. On a recent trip to Amman, Jordan,, I only had time to cover four Pimsleur lessons, and even with just these I was functioning fine with street, shop, taxi and hotel Arabic. This is the system that works. There is also a big secondary market in used CDs, plus libraries often have them. HOWEVER -- here is the real gap in the market that no one is addressing. Understanding is very often harder than speaking. When you speak, you use only words you know and go at your own pace. When someone else speaks, you have no control. There needs to be a comprehension set of CDs, similar to the old "dictée" system that used to be a staple of French iinstruction. They could have a normal conversation and then slow it down progressively until the words became clear. THIS is the frontier!