When all of our in-person classes, activities and events were scrapped last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew our weekly language practice meetups—Tea Time—would be among the greatest losses.
After all, we already had several years of experience in online teaching, and managed the transition to web-based group classes rather seamlessly (if we do say so ourselves).
The move to virtual meetups proved to be a bigger challenge. We desperately wanted our new online events to mimic the friendly, open atmosphere of our Tea Time meetups.
After months of planning, experimenting and adjusting, we believe we’ve succeeded: our new English conversation events, which are offered as part of our Talk 3 program, are now amongst E-QIP’s crowning achievements.
Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, English learners from around the globe “meet” (virtually) to discuss topics ranging from hobbies and hometowns to sleep and self-care. Since these events are offered through our Facebook page, they're accessible to any learners with an internet connection and a few 45-minute windows to spare!
For those 45 minutes, participants discuss their lives, meet new people and—most importantly—practice their English in a casual, “real world” setting, with E-QIP teachers on hand to guide, advise and occasionally correct.
Our guides direct the conversation using E-QIP's proven conversation technique, which invites students to embrace their curiosity, experiment with new vocabulary and learn from their own (and others') mistakes. Although the program is designed for intermediate+ English learners, all are permitted to attend; our guides simply ask that beginner/pre-intermediate learners assume an observational role until they're able to participate at the same level as their peers.
We’ve written before about the benefits of learning a language through speaking (rather than studying). Research has proven that students who focus on language production (i.e., using language themselves) fare better in the learning process than students who focus on comprehension practice (i.e., studying the language), and anecdotal evidence has convinced us of the power of immersion over pure instruction.
Chatting with other learners in a fun, low stakes environment helps to contextualize the language within interactions that are actually relevant to students’ lives, and thus helps students to identify areas in which they’re lacking. A conversation about work might, for example, alert a student to the fact that she knows very little English vocabulary that can be used to discuss her career, while a conversation about hobbies might allow her to realize that she struggles with the present perfect tense.
After the pandemic made travel and in-person learning an impossibility for many people around the world, many virtual language exchange programs have sprung up based on these exact principles. Only E-QIP’s language meetups, however, are guided by our one-of-a-kind teaching framework and are overseen by our expert instructors.
As all forms of education, information and communication increasingly move online, we’re certain that E-QIP’s web-based offerings will only continue to grow and improve, and we can’t wait to see where the virtual world we’ve created takes us (and all of you)!