Guided Imitation

your passport to conversing in foreign languages

Our Approach

Our approach is built on the truth that the only way to learn a skill is to practice that exact skill. We note that conventional language learning programs train students how to fill in blanks and take tests. Holding a conversation is a vastly different skill. To learn how to converse in a foreign language, one must practice conversing in the foreign language.

A conversation can be considered as two parts: understanding and responding. Training functional conversation must then focus on understanding and formulating a response. Enter 'guided imitation'.

Guided Imitiation

With our guided imitation drills, the student hears a stimulus and then constructs a response. The tutor provides the correct response as a check. The student has a short pause in which to provide an answer. In this way, the student is practicing hearing, understanding and responding in real-time.

In the first drills, we ask the student to simply repeat vocabulary words, phrases and simple sentences. A complete beginner is able to do this. Then, the student is asked to slightly modify a given sentence pattern. As the program continues, we ask the student to perform more difficult variations to set patterns, and increase the length and complexity of the sentences. At the end, the student is able to construct his/her own sentences on the fly.

Example

Tutor Stimulus Student Response Tutor Answer Verification
I see the dog. I see the dog. I see the dog.
cat I see the cat. I see the cat.
hear I hear the cat. I hear the cat.
he He hears the cat. He hears the cat.

In the drill above, the student is learning how to use subject, object, verb and conjugation in a standard sentence structure. At the same time, the student is internalizing all grammar required to formulate the sentence. The student is doing this real-time in the target language. He is also thinking in the target language.

After mastering such an exercise, the student will have the ability to adapt the learned pattern for his own uses in free-flowing speech.

The Science

When we are learning a language, the brain creates neuron pathways, which are physical structures. These structures are the memories for our use of vocabulary and grammar. If we build a structure, and then do not use the structure, the structure will be dissolved; the memory is forgotten. As we repeatedly use the physical structure, the structure will become stronger and easier to use.

Consider a jungle. As one begins walking through the jungle, one must literally fight one's way through. As one repeats walking the same path, the path becomes wider and clearer, and easier to walk through. The pathways in our brain are built the same way.

This process is the same for learning any skill, be it playing guitar, or dancing ballet. The more we repeat the activity, the more intuitive and ingrained the activity becomes. A highly trained guitar player can play a difficult piece while at the same time holding a conversation.

Our guided imitation drills train your brain to build the neuron pathways for speaking the target language. As you practice with our program, you will eventually come to a point where you will automatically understand and respond without effort; for the necessary neuron paths will be awaiting your use.

Keep in mind that reading and writing are very different skills compared to speaking. Many students of languages will testify that studying and taking tests at school does not make one capable of speaking in the foreign language. They will tell you that they could not speak comfortably until they lived in the target country for a period of time. Dr. Brians Languages fills this skills gap with guided imitation drills; the student is able to practice speaking as if he were in the target country. And our program is much cheaper than plane tickets, hotel rooms and private tutors.

Summary

With the guided imitation technique, we guide the student to become proficient at formulating his own ideas in the new language - accurately, intuitively and automatically.