我们不是传统培训机构

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Our school was born out of the idea of making of language learning something radically different from the average. Why? Although coming from very different backgrounds, we are all, in the first place, people deeply interested in language and all the disciplines connected somehow to language, from logic and mathematics to history. Therefore, we are deeply unsatisfied when we see how foreign languages are traditionally taught. What we mean by this is the approach of learning first a bunch of abstract grammar rules, and then start memorizing all sorts of materials, from endless wordlists to whole texts which are not even taken from real literature or contemporary social or political discourse but instead simplified (we could say “watered”) material designed specifically for learners. As we said before, we believe that language itself is a fascinating object of study, but we are also aware of the fact that for many people acquiring a foreign language represents mostly the means to achieve access to the working or studying in another linguistic area. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t mean that language learning should be a lifeless, boring and monotonous process by which rules and words are swallowed as a medicine we feel reluctant to take. Our main goal is to show how interesting and meaningful and yes, why not, useful can be the study of language.

The following are a few focal points of our approach:

  1. Comparative and historical linguistics: We believe that a general idea of historical linguistics can be enormously helpful to the study of any foreign language. In the case of Indo-European languages, we can take advantage of the close kinship and common origin of the many languages from which English has borrowed (Greek, Latin, French, Old Norse), besides the history of English words themselves and arranging them in an organic and logical comprehensive frame.
  2. Historical and cultural background: Of course all this knowledge about the history of language must be complemented with occasional reference to other related fields: actually, since language is such a vital instrument in every field of human activity, it is hard to think of any which is not somehow related to language. The most obvious field related to the history of language is history itself, and of course history is intertwined with a wide range of social and cultural phenomena. Our aim is therefore too to provide, “long the way” a general background of the classical cultural tradition of the west, which can help to make the study of vocabulary something lively, tangible, real.
  3. An active, spontaneous way of teaching: Without relinquishing high academic standards (a wide but very precise choice of contents to be taught and a demanding program of homework, reading and testing) we would like to get rid of the traditional distance to be kept between the students and a monologing teacher. Instead, we propose a method based on interaction, and also in the use of humor and abundant anecdotic material of all sorts to make the learning experience something pleasurable for its own sake.
  4. A multimedia approach: We count with first-class technology for teaching. Smart-Boards (TM) in the classroom allow for a rich variety of multimedia material to be used during class, and all classes are taped for eventual reference.
  5. Stimulating teaching material: Our tests and reading materials are all designed to develop, beyond their own didactic purpose, the general cultural background we spoke before. In particular, the readings we propose are all based on scholarly material and are meant to illustrate the actual use of advanced English vocabulary in the context of interesting, curious and controversial topics taken from history and culture.
  6. Beyond English: The concept of a “cloud” alludes to a “nebular” knowledge, whose different branches are interconnected and interact in a variety of ways. While teaching advanced English for technical and academic purposes is still our main aim, we plan to expand our methodology to other languages. For the moment we are starting, along with the English vocabulary class, a course in Latin, which, as a language of enormous cultural significance in the West, provides a precious insight into the knowledge of virtually any western language. Our plans are to teach German, French, Spanish and Italian all integrated into a cohesive general framework, in which we can explain and show their interaction and reciprocal influence.

我们不是传统培训机构

云英语从何而来?我们最核心的想法是帮大家从根上学习外语,这一点和传统教学方法有着本质不同。为什么?虽然来自不同的背景,我们都是对语言及其相关学科有着浓厚兴趣的人。和传统观念不同,这个“相关学科”包括了逻辑学、数学及历史等。因此,我们深感不满于传统外语教学的现状,就是说,首先学习一堆抽象的语法规则,然后开始背诵各种材料,从没完没了的生词表到整个文章:后者一般不是从文学或当代社会、政治领域引用的真实段落,而是专门为了学习者设计的简化(或者说“掺水的”)材料。再者,我们认为语言本身就是一个非常迷人的研究对象。虽然对许多人来说,掌握某门外语的重要性就在于能出国学习或工作,然而,这并不意味着,学习语言必须是一个死气沉沉、枯燥无味的背诵规则、单词、段落和文章的过程,像勉强吞噬苦药一样。我们的主要目标是要展现,学习语言事实上是多么有趣、有意义、甚至有用。

以下是我们方法的几个重点 :

  1. 历史比较语言学:我们认为,历史比较语言学的基础可对外语学习有巨大的帮助。就印欧语系的情况而言,两百多年的精彩研究使得我们可以很深刻地了解英语的历史(包括像希腊文、拉丁文、法文、古北欧文等同系语言对英语的影响)以及把英语词汇安排在一个综合、和逻性的框架。
  2. 历史和文化背景:当然,对语言历史的知识,必须加以补充:实际上,因为语言在人类的各个活动范围是个如此的重要工具,几乎历史的各个方面和语言有关。我们的目标也是提供西方古典文化的一些背景知识,以使词汇的研修者获得一种活泼、鲜艳、真正的体验。
  3. 积极、自发的教学风格:不放弃高学术水平(即广阔而精确的学习内容,以及苛刻的阅读、作业和测试程序),同时我们想摆脱传统师生之间的距离。我们建议的是以互动、幽默和背景知识为主的教学方法,以使学习的经验本身成为一种乐趣。
  4. 多媒体资源:云英语用最新的技术设备进行教学。Smart-board(TM)允许在课堂使用丰富的多媒体材料。每节课都备有录像以便随时参考。
  5. 有意思的教材:除了实现教学目的,测试和阅读材料都精心设计,提供上述的文化背景重点。阅读材料都是基于学术文献,其目的是在各种有趣、令人好奇和有争议性的历史文化话题语境下,阐明现代高级英语词汇的实际应用。
  6. 英语之外:“云”的概念暗示一种“云雾状”的知识,各部分相互联系与互动。虽然教高级技术和学术英语仍然是我们的主要目的,我们也计划将我们的方法扩展到其他语言。目前,除了主要的英语词汇班,也开始一个拉丁文班:作为一门在西方文化中无比重要的语言,拉丁文能为几乎所有西方语言的学习提供宝贵的辅助。我们的计划是,把德语、法语、西班牙语和意大利语整合成一个有凝聚力的总体框架,以便能解释和显示它们的相互影响。