Here at Lexis English Byron Bay we have a rule that students must speak English the whole time they are at school, not just in the classrooms. This policy is extremely popular with students, for three reasons:
1. They can make friends from other countries
If students are able to speak in their own language they automatically gather in same language groups for breaks and lunchtimes (so that they can relax and talk easily). However, with the English Only policy, students are forced to speak English so there is no reason to seek out students with the same mother tongue and, therefore, everyone makes more effort to get to know people from other countries.
2. It’s polite in mixed company
It’s a horrible feeling when people nearby are talking in a language that you don’t understand, especially if it’s a big group and you are alone.
Here at Lexis Byron Bay we often have students who are are travelling alone from countries such as Taiwan, Czech Republic, Russia and Poland. They are totally reliant on English because nobody here speaks their language. At the same time there are big groups from countries like Switzerland and Brazil. If you are a German or Portuguese speaker, please try to imagine how you would feel if everyone was speaking Russian or another language around you. Wouldn’t it make you feel shy and uncomfortable and even worry that they were talking about you? We can avoid this with the English Only policy.
3. It’s the best way to improve your English. Fast!
English is a skill, like driving or learning to play a sport or an instrument. The only way to get better at a skill is to practise, practise, practise it.
In class you learn the theory and you practise what you learn with games, roleplays and other speaking activities that are designed to be as much like real life as possible. However, it’s when you actually have to use the theory in your everyday life that it becomes really real for you and, then, you remember it.
Imagine learning to drive in a classroom with a model car. It would be helpful, of course, but you cannot learn to drive properly until you practise in a real car on real street. English is the same.
Or think about sports training. You need to warm up before you can really perform. Then if you stop and have a break you need to warm up all over again. English is the same. If you speak your own language during the break, then you have to warm up back into English when you return to class. It slows you down.
So, remember: To make more friends, be polite and improve your language skills…