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Making learning languages fun

The FAU Self-Access Language Learning Centre offers students a place to go to focus completely on learning a language... (Image: FAU/Rebecca Kleine Möllhoff)

The Learning Centre for languages

It takes more than just discipline to learn a language. That’s why the FAU Language Centre offers students the perfect learning and working environment. Students can come along to the Self-Access Language Learning Centre (German: Selbstlernzentrum) to learn or practise languages or prepare for presentations and examinations as and when it suits them, whether in groups, with a tutor or individually.

The perfect mix

Student studying at a table with the library in the background

…whether with workbooks, foreign-language newspapers or reference works from the Centre’s library… (Image: FAU/Rebecca Kleine Möllhoff)

FAU’s Self-Access Language Learning Centre offers students a place to learn in a more laid-back atmosphere. Students can access materials for more than 30 different languages – including German as a foreign language, English, French, Spanish, Swedish and Chinese. As well as reference works or workbooks from the Centre’s library, students can access listening comprehension texts and pronunciation training from the online media library. In soundproof booths they can feel free to practice their pronunciation or watch films without wearing headphones. In order to make learning using workbooks even more effective, solutions to exercises will be provided on digital tablets for certain languages from the winter semester 2018/19. ‘It’s important for students to be able to retreat to somewhere a little more relaxed when they run out of steam and don’t feel quite up to concentrating hard on studying using a computer or books,’ says Christian Hagen, who manages the Self-Access Language Learning Centre at FAU’s Language Centre. The Self-Access Language Learning Centre also offers a collection of videos in various languages and television programmes from around the world can be received via satellite. ‘Students can relax in the TV corner and just let Spanish talkshows wash over them. That can actually be quite an effective way of learning,’ says Christian Hagen.

One student is sitting on a couch reading, another is looking at videos.

…or relaxing on the couch, watching a film. (Image: FAU/Rebecca Kleine Möllhoff)

How do you learn?

Before you actually start learning a language, you should first of all explore your own individual learning habits and work out how you learn most effectively. ‘This may sound rather trivial, but it is one of the most important prerequisites for learning a language successfully. A lot of students have picked up bad learning habits over the years and are struggling as a result,’ explains Hagen. Students can avoid this problem by seeking advice on learning languages at the Self-Access Language Learning Centre. They can sit down together with professionally trained language learning advisors, and find out how they can best practise vocabulary or grammar. ‘There are lots of different ways to learn vocabulary. Everyone has to find out for themselves what suits them best – whether using flashcards, on the PC or with visual images,’ continues Hagen. As well as individual advice, the Self-Access Language Learning Centre also offers block seminars during the semester and gives students useful tips on learning languages.

Christian Hagen and a student sitting at a table looking at documents.

Students can also use the language learning advice service to find out how they can learn a foreign language most effectively. (Image: FAU/Rebecca Kleine Möllhoff)

Learning by doing

Speaking the foreign language is even more important than both grammar and vocabulary. Many students struggle with speaking the foreign language due to a lack of practice. For this reason, the Self-Access Language Learning Centre offers sessions with native speakers of German, French, Spanish and Italian. Students can take the plunge and talk to a tutor without feeling intimidated. They can choose whether they would like to practise a presentation they have to give, discuss social topics or just have a chat. This allows them to gain confidence in speaking in various subject areas, polish up their presentation for the next lesson or prepare for a semester abroad. Once the ice has been broken, they also have the option of practising speaking in a group during the semester break. All those who are interested meet up in a workshop lasting one week and draw up their own schedule of times and topics to be covered. It is up to the students to decide whether they want to have a structured discussion on politics or history or if they just want to meet in the park for an informal chat. The only rule is that they speak in the foreign language. A native language tutor joins in to make sure that this happens and to help if there are any difficulties finding the right word. ‘Students who wanted to improve their Italian met up one morning to prepare Italian food and share a lunch,’ reports Hagen. Cooking together is of course an option for the workshops, making learning a language even more fun.


More information on the Self-Access Language Learning Centre, language learning advice and native language tutoring can be found (in German) at: http://www.sz.fau.de/abteilungen/medien/slz

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