- At a loss for words?
- Studying the same thing over and over?
- Keep making the same mistakes?
- Why don't you understand native speakers while you understand non-natives?
- Can you speak like a native?
- Why is it that you understand the text, but would never write it like that?
These are typical questions posed by those who have studied a foreign language at school or in a language course that uses the classical grammar-translation approach, perhaps with certain elements of the communicative learning approach (CLA) thrown in because it's modern.
We use the lexical approach. Simply put, in the words of its founder Michael Lewis (1993), language is a grammatically modified lexicon, not a lexically extended grammar. Let's go back to that familiar scenario – have you ever been at a loss for words? Probably. But you probably can't think of a time when you were “at a loss” for grammar. Vocabulary plays a crucial role in the creation of meaning while grammar has a subordinate role, albeit a constructive one. Lexicon, vocabulary and key words are the concepts that create the essence and philosophy of all our services, whether it is consulting and lexicographic work, subsequent translation services and interpreting, or instruction and training through specialised courses.
There is no room here for a detailed discussion of the lexical approach, but we will try to outline it briefly. One key term is the chunk, or group of words. In the human mind, they are stored and processed as separate units (Schmitt, 2000). The human mind is able to store large amounts of information in long-term memory, but the capacity of short-term memory is much more limited, so if, for example, we speak – we are creating a language, it is much more efficient for the brain to recall groups of words (chunks) as if they were separate units of information. Within our concept, we will not only teach you individual words, but groups of words that naturally belong together, i.e. chunks.
If you'd like a peek behind the curtain, here are a couple more concepts from our theory. The first is collocation. These are combinations of words that tend to occur naturally together. If you use a different combination, a native speaker may not identify it as a mistake, but it will sound strange or unusual. Within our methodology, collocation has a key position. We will constantly look for connections that are natural in a language. Today, there are also dictionaries of collocations. We can recommend one.
Another skill we can teach you is observation and awareness of a language. We will teach you to master a foreign language and how to pick it up on your own.
Thekey vocabulary will, however, always play a key role, you will create an individual vocabulary and quickly learn words that you could never memorise, or words which you always made mistakes in or that you could never pronounce correctly. Finally, once and for all, you will learn to use those 50 to 100 key words you need in your profession correctly, fluently and actively.