Many people believe that learning a new foreign language is difficult and takes a lot of time, especially if the language is Chinese, Japanese, Russian or Arabic. This is certainly not entirely wrong. But there are good reasons to take up such a challenge and to do so at the Landesspracheninstitut.
A new foreign language is always a natural extension of one's own linguistic personality, which in retrospect proves to be an extremely profitable investment. It often leads to the discovery of hitherto unknown mental abilities and provides enjoyment. However, it is all too often overlooked that learning a foreign language can also be an endeavour. Learning in itself is destabilising, as the new foreign language with its structures and elements initially questions old knowledge and skills, adds new things, sorts them differently.
So what is the secret of effective and enjoyable language learning? It lies in the learning culture in which teachers and learners are embedded together. Learning culture and its building blocks are essentially responsible for whether the acquisition of a foreign language is overall positive, compensating for the - temporarily - precarious state of the learner as much as possible. Learning culture is a dynamic 'learning space' determined by rules and values, which is jointly developed by learners and teachers. It is the elementary environment in which the learner's self-transformation takes place and a new linguistic identity is created.
The most important factors of an optimal learning culture? First and foremost, the combination of learning forms and teaching styles with the psychological, pedagogical and didactic orientations on which they are based. But also the individual attention given to learners, a positive learning atmosphere, a climate of well-being. In addition, there is a successful balance between self-determined and externally determined learning, individual motivation and clear goal orientation. Not to forget motivation, creativity and empathy on both sides.
For the Landesspracheninstitut in der Ruhr-Universität Bochum (LSI) this understanding of learning culture is a living reality. For over 45 years, LSI has been teaching application-oriented, practical language skills in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian. More than 46,000 participants from business, politics, society, science and academia have completed language courses at LSI and have been able to successfully apply the new skills they acquired in Bochum abroad.
In addition to its 10-week online offers, the institute mainly offers full-day courses in an intensive format, ranging from three days to three weeks. Learning at LSI takes place on a scientific basis and with a high concentration of time and content, 6-7 hours of instruction, followed by individual follow-up. In a fortnight, a learning workload of up to 80 hours is achieved. The learner concentrates exclusively on the new language and culture and can therefore achieve the best possible learning result.
What exactly is LSI's recipe for success that has made it one of the leading language training institutes in Europe? Its unique learning culture. At the centre of the entire teaching and learning process is the individual person with his or her personal circumstances, strengths and goals. It is LSI's mission to do full justice to these and to create optimal conditions for the individual's learning success.
Forms of Teaching and Learning
The communicative core of the LSI is intensive teaching in small groups with a maximum of 9 participants. Didactically, the practical language contents and skills are geared to the concrete needs of the course participants, whereby particular attention is paid to the use of these skills in real-life, e.g. professional contexts. LSI also maintains a lively variety of teaching and learning methods, from interactive role-plays and practical training forms to web-based offers. Language skills are acquired using multimedia and new skills are tried out and practised in partner and group work.
In all our languages, the main focus is on speaking, listening and reading, a complete immersion in the language, which is strengthened by full-day classes, but also by accommodation in the institute. Alternating teachers during the course of the day not only provides variety, but directly promotes the learner's ability to engage in different types of pronunciation and speech.
Since the summer of 2020, LSI has also started to offer its course participants a purely online format, which offers all basic and advanced courses over a period of 10 weeks, each with six hours (2 x 3 hours) per week. What you acquire in a two-week highly intensive course in Bochum, can now be learned from anywhere, while working and compatible with your private life: LSI TO GO. Because flexibility is particularly important to us. With our new online model, you can also easily switch between classroom and online formats. Our 10-week online language courses are based on virtual classroom teaching (via video conference) and are supplemented by our learning platform LSI.online.
The time spent by students at LSI is valuable, both for students and teachers. LSI also designs special programmes for one-to-one training, in which personal learning goals and expectations, as well as individual previous knowledge and difficulties, are precisely addressed. Training of this kind can be conducted in the classroom or online via video conferencing. But individual support and learning guidance are also part of the norm at LSI. The best possible learning conditions are provided for every course participant, because nothing boosts motivation more than good learning results. And it goes without saying that a cooperative teaching style prevails at LSI, in which teachers and learners are equal partners.
Functional Learning and Goal Orientation
The LSI language courses are based on textbooks especially developed by the Institute, which are optimally suited to the content of the courses. All teaching and learning materials are pragmatically designed, equipped with many practical examples and written in understandable language. This ensures a rigorous course concept which also ensures that the learning objectives are actually achieved. Despite fixed procedures, there is still room for personal learning wishes, topics or even individual support. Particularly in the evening hours and in group work, learning is self-determined, as well as in the accompanying online sessions, which serve to consolidate what has been learned.
Digital Learning Content
In addition to classroom teaching, LSI offers its participants the personalised, digital learning environment LSI.online beyond the period of attendance, with tutorial support if required, in which existing knowledge can be deepened or new language content acquired. The learner at LSI therefore does not have to leave his learning cultural space. And of course LSI.online is also our technical and content basis for the 10-week online format, in which live lessons (three hours per week on two evenings) are combined with individual work on our numerous learning offers and media via video conference.
All teachers at LSI have a specialist academic training in language teaching, have many years of teaching experience in the adult sector and are bilingual throughout. The teams of the individual institutes consist of an ideal combination of native speakers and German Sinologists, Arabists, Japanologists, Russian and Koreanists. Both groups are able to respond specifically to questions and problems of German-speaking learners. Current issues concerning society, politics and culture, country and people always play an important role in the classroom. LSI therefore always sees its language teaching as a means of imparting cultural knowledge and raising awareness of differences. Above all, it is the enthusiasm for the languages that our teachers teach. Ultimately, language teaching must be enjoyable and to ensure that every language course is a complete success, a dedicated administration team ensures that everything runs smoothly, from course booking to departure.
A relaxed and concentrated learning atmosphere is equally important for learning success. During the courses, participants generally stay in LSI's own guesthouse in green surroundings on the edge of the RUB campus. Modern classrooms, functionally furnished guest rooms, a separate lounge and an inviting breakfast contribute directly to a feeling of well-being.
LSI course participants know why they come to Bochum to learn a language. They expect language instruction of the highest quality and optimal learning results. By the way: Over half of all course participants come to LSI on personal recommendation or advice from their employer. LSI regularly receives top marks for its teaching: 95% give LSI the grade "good" to "very good" (2019). Learning materials and learning atmosphere are also assessed in the same way. 81% praise the high level of commitment of the lecturers in class in particular.
What does the participant contribute to the learning culture and what does LSI expect? First of all, a solid motivation to learn the language, to get involved with it, imagination and creativity, but also a certain amount of stamina and discipline. Age, previous education or learning experience are not important. So what makes the very unique learning culture of the Landesspracheninstitut so special? Naturally, the combination of all quality factors that LSI can offer. But equally our learners from Germany and Europe, their high expectations, but also their active willingness to commit themselves to the adventure of learning a foreign language.