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Just-in-Time SLA

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Just-in-Time SLA Course Overview

Course Goals

In the Just-in-Time (JIT) SLA course, our primary goal is to equip you to become a more efficient and effective learner of your new language regardless of the learning method — attending a language school, working with a tutor, independent learning, or a combination of approaches. We want to empower you through understanding the basics of language learning, coaching you in pronunciation, and giving you skills to plan your own learning. To complete these goals, our online sessions include three components: 

The foundations sessions provide an overall framework for your continued language and culture learning. In these sessions, we examine a range of useful insights that deal with the "what" and "how" of effective language learning, and through applications questions for each session you relate these insights to your individual needs and specific learning situation. We explore a number of basic questions. Some concern the "what" of language learning, some address who you are as a language and culture learner, and still others deal with how to go about the learning process. Some questions we cover include

  • In order to reach a higher level of language proficiency, exactly what do you need to learn, and what skills must be developed?
  • How should you go about the learning process?
  • How can you capitalize on your innate learning strengths?
  • How can you make the most of the resources you have available (e.g., language school, tutors, ordinary native speakers)?
  • How can you learn from your successes, and how can you make your mistakes work for you?

If you need to improve your target language pronunciation, you can choose to focus heavily on developing pronunciation accuracy or you may want to give attention to only a few troublesome areas. Because each person's need for work on pronunciation is different, some give considerable time and attention to this component, while others give much less time to this area.

The Language Learning Techniques (LLT) sessions give you an opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills gained in the course to the specific areas you have identified as your needs or gaps in your overall learning. This includes

  • working one-on-one with a language helper to address your learning goals and, depending upon your individual needs
  • planning learning by setting short- and long-term goals
  • developing lesson plans
  • integrating specific language components (e.g., grammar) into your overall learning, expanding your conversational ability
  • addressing personal roadblocks (e.g., confidence, risk-taking, motivation)
  • handling sticky situations in the target language
  • using self-assessment checklists.

                                                                              

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Audience

JIT SLA is designed for beginning language learners who are planning to serve more than a year or two in a cross-cultural setting. What's distinct about this course is that it takes learners through a learning progression in their first year of language learning, setting a firm foundation for living, working, and ministering overseas for long term. 

Course Format

Our online Just-in-Time SLA course begins with the three-week Introduction to Language Learning course (Phase 1), followed by a few months of individual coaching while engaged in on-field learning (Phase 2), and finally, an additional three-week course that is an abbreviated version of our SLA for Continuing Learners course (Phase 3). The three phases span about 7-9 months:

Phase 1 consists of 15 online sessions. While the timeline can be flexible according to your availability, some participants have taken it in three weeks (about 3-4 hours per day) or in six weeks. Here are some of the key topics we address:

  • phonetics/pronunciation of your target language (10-12 hours, with 7 individual Skype sessions)
  • understanding the language learning process
  • strategies for becoming a better language learner
  • working one-on-one with language helpers
  • making good audio recordings and using them effectively
  • addressing issues such as confidence, anxiety, and motivation
  • setting realistic goals and planning learning experiences
  • developing listening and speaking skills, including good pronunciation
  • learning grammar and vocabulary
  • drawing upon multiple resources (e.g., courses, tutors, helpers, community)
  • dealing with individual areas or issues that may slow down your learning

Most of the work is done online using Moodle and you also meet individually via Skype with an instructor two or three times each week. In addition, you may work with a language helper who is either a native speaker of your target language or another language (optional for pre-field learners, required for on-field learners).

Six to seven months of one-on-one coaching tailored to your specific needs, including working with you to make the most of your on-field learning program, with supplementary activities as needed. The coaching includes at least one individual Skype meeting per month and bi-weekly email coaching.

The focus of Phase 3 is on equipping you to move from an everyday level of language ability to more advanced proficiency needed for effective ministry and professional purposes. Highly customized to meet your unique needs, this phase includes frequent one-on-one Skype interaction (usually 2-3 meetings per week) and individual assignments tailored to meet your learning needs and goals.

Similar to Phase 1, this last phase consists of 15 online sessions, with a flexible timeline. We can schedule this part of the course at a time that is convenient for you, and it will not be dependent on when others might want to complete this phase. 

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“I feel like my toolbox is full of all sorts of tools to pull out and use."

-former SLA participant