Improve your English the LingQ Academy Way
The office was quiet this Monday morning. The LingQ staff shuffled in, heads down, glancing over at the empty table in the middle of the room before turning on their computers. Only last Friday that table was occupied by our wonderful LingQ Academy Students Hanna, Emily and Tamás. Now it’s empty, and we’re all feeling blue.
We were a little anxious before the LingQ Academy three arrived. What if they don’t like us? What if they don’t like each other? What if they’re not interested in what we have planned for them? But all of those worries melted away within the first few days when we realized that we had lucked into a group of fun, curious and hardworking students. I don’t know how we’ll top them if we run the academy next year.
While here, Tamás, Emily and Hanna worked on LingQ every day studying lessons on topics related to the startup world: marketing, public relations, SEO, design, programming and more. You can see the full course of lessons here. They were set tasks related to their reading and beta tested the new LingQ version 4.0, especially the new reader, which is available to use now.
If you’ve been following the LingQ Academy Live Youtube videos, you will have noticed the progress that our students made. They speak with more confidence, better pronunciation and a more advanced vocabulary. Their reading, writing and listening skills also improved immensely. We are very proud of them, and they should be, too.
Let’s break down exactly what they did and how they improved.
On the student’s second day at the LingQ office, they were interviewed by Steve. We wanted to get an idea of who they are, their experiences with learning languages and what they wanted to get out of their time at LingQ. They also showed us footage they had taken from their home countries of Hungary, Taiwan and South Korea:
Tamás, Hanna and Emily’s speaking skills were pretty good, but there were some issues with structure, pronunciation, word choice and confidence. They all revealed a desire to speak more fluently and express their ideas concisely. We worked on this over the 13 weeks that they were here by having our trio present their ideas to the LingQ team and each other every week.
The trio also took part in office discussions about marketing and the specifics of the new version of LingQ. They had lots of ideas so worked hard to make sure those ideas were understood. This motivation meant that they were utilizing the vocabulary they had learned in their reading and submitting audio files of them speaking for pronunciation checks on the Exchange Page.
Their hard work payed off as can be seen in the presentations they gave at the end of their time with us:
For many language learners, writing is a difficult and often frustrating part of the process. You know exactly what you want to express, but you aren’t sure it’s coming across in your target language. There are also things to think about that don’t come up when you speak: punctuation, sentence structure, paragraphs, spelling etc.
We wanted Emily, Tamás and Hanna to get lots of practice so we got them to set up a blog on Medium in week one. They wrote posts each week on topics connected with their reading. Check out Emily, Tamás and Hanna’s work.
Each time our students were finished with a piece of writing, they submitted it to the Exchange Page to be checked. Writing can be assigned to a specific LingQ member (I was assigned to the piece below), or submitted for any member to read and check. Here’s the last piece that Emily submitted.
“I wouldn’t correct someone’s writing out of the kindness of my heart” I hear you cry! It’s all good, you don’t have to. Members who want corrections will assign points to the person who checks it. You can then use those points for conversation lessons with a tutor or to submit your own piece of writing or pronunciation audio file for correction.
Once your writing has been corrected, you can import it as a lesson (top right corner) and study the words, phrases and structures you had issues with.
Our LingQ Academy trio did a ton of listening on LingQ during their 13 weeks with us. Each lesson in the LingQ Academy Tech Startup Course has an audio file to accompany it, so you can hear how all of those new words should be pronounced. We also took the students to a digital marketing event about halfway through the academy to see how much they were able to understand. Here they are enjoying fajitas before the presentations.
There were two presentations in total, one on the ways that marketing is changing and one on growth. Tamás, Emily and Hanna reported understanding 80-90% of what was said – pretty good! A lot of the marketing-specific vocabulary they had learned in their readings came up, and so they were able to follow the gist of each talk.
The afternoon panel discussion, on the other hand, was a different experience. The three panel members and the interviewer were speaking in fast English, and there was vocabulary – mostly proper nouns and technical terms – that our students had never heard before. After the hour-long panel, Hanna, Emily and Tamás were a little exhausted! Nothing like a bunch of people chatting about a niche subject to remind you that there’s still a ways to go in your language study.
Another thing we had our students do to help them improve their listening skills was make phone calls. We were planning an event and wanted to get an idea of the best venues in downtown Vancouver. We assigned three venues to each student and had them call each one to enquire. Hanna and Emily were not exactly thrilled at the idea, but Tamás couldn’t wait to get started. Here’s how they did:
Reading is a huge part of learning a language. Emily, Hanna and Tamás were here for the launch of the new LingQ Reader, and so we had them doing a lot of reading – so much that their eyes were sore (sorry about that, guys). We didn’t just want them to be reading the articles in the LingQ Academy Tech Startup Course, so we had them also find their own content to import to LingQ and study from. Watch to see what they chose:
Not only have the students improved their English skills, they’ve also had a life-changing (their words) adventure in Vancouver. Hanna has even made a video documenting the best times. Excuse me while I grab a box of tissues…
What do you think – should we run the LingQ Academy again next summer? Would you be interested in joining the LingQ team in Vancouver?