Have you ever taken a language lesson where you spent 50% of the time reading silently, filling in blanks, or completing listening exercises in which the audio is too fast?
Have you ever felt disappointed that, despite months of study, you are still unable to communicate with your Spanish friends?
Have you ever found yourself unable to understand the restaurant waiter, the bus driver, or the market vendor even after receiving your first Spanish certificate?
As I tried to learn French and English, it also happened to me. I used to really enjoy talking to my classmates and the teacher in class, but that only lasted for a short while. The majority of the time was spent reading, listening, and participating in tasks, which we would complete on our own. Besides, what I learned in class seemed worlds apart from what I really needed in my day-to-day life.
Then I became a Spanish teacher. And I asked myself, “Do I want my students to go through the same experience? Is it possible to help them learn what they need more quickly?
Well, YES! THERE IS A WAY, and we have called it COMUNICA.
Comunica, which translates to “to communicate” in Spanish, encapsulates the main goal of making sure that students can easily understand and express themselves in Spanish in real-life circumstances, improving their skills in a natural, fun, and flexible way.
This method has its roots in the communicative approach, which is based on the idea that learning a language successfully comes through having to communicate real, practical meaning to your counterpart. No fake, textbook created situations, but rather learning by immersing yourself in a situation and being forced to make yourself understood.
Comunica combines two learning approaches, off-line and live, to create a learning experience that is incredibly effective.
And what makes it so effective? Not one thing, but a combination of multiple factors.
After studying how the human brain learns a language in depth, we —a team of experienced teachers— came up with an innovative method that is already helping many students of multiple nationalities to speak Spanish.
If I were to summarize the keys to our Comunica method, I would lay out the following six:
- Inductive learning: Several studies demonstrate that learning is far more effective when the learner attempts to discover rules by looking at examples rather than being instructed to memorize something. This is what Comunica does. We show you video, texts, and audios, and you are guided to discover the rules of the language structures that you see. Once you have learned the rule, it stays with you forever.
- Self-paced: Everyone learns at a different pace, and different people acquire knowledge in different ways—some are more visual, others are more auditory. In our method, learning begins with the app, where you may access all of the content and quizzes as many times as you need. If you want to go faster, you can go faster; if you need to go slower, you can pace yourself. The learning is adjusted to each one because each one is different.
- Well-structured: The Comunica method has been designed by expert teachers who master the art of teaching a language. The lessons are all crafted following the didactic sequence of: Introduction – Comprehension – Practice – Production – Evaluation. This is the way our minds learn. The first three levels are completed via the app, so you are prepared to communicate with your classmates and teacher when you enter the conversational class. After the lesson, the evaluation is also completed through the app.
- Cultural: by “cultural” we don’t merely mean artists like Frida Kahlo or Salvador Dali, flamenco, or salsa. Learning a culture involves much more than merely becoming familiar with the local artistic expressions. Comunica teaches you to recognize the nuances, character traits, and conventions that are implied in any interaction. You will learn whether in Spain it’s ok or not to open a gift in front of the person who gave it, or why the Argentinians seem to always think they are the best (wink, wink, my Argentinian friends…).
- Student-centered: the first time I taught a Comunica class, I couldn’t believe my eyes, or better said, my ears. I was used to having to explain to my students everything from scratch: the alphabet, ¿cómo te llamas? (what’s your name?), ¿cuántos años tienes? (how old are you?), and all the greetings… But now, with Comunica, they arrived to class already knowing all that!! My role was not to teach them anymore. Now I was there to accompany them, to solve their questions, and to make them talk, and talk, and talk!
- It`s fun! Every teacher knows how emotions help with knowledge acquisition. For this reason, we have given capital importance to making the learning really fun and dynamic: in the app, you will watch entertaining video stories, read interesting texts, listen to amusing audios, and do enjoyable quizzes; the conversation class is full of lively conversations, games, role-plays, and much more.
For all of these reasons, I can truly say that our Comunica method is effective. Students make the most of their time, can communicate with their Spanish speaking friends, and can understand the slang they hear when they travel around our fascinating Hispanic world.
Chief Learning Officer at Comunica Spanish / Spanish World Group