Foreign Language Department

Innovative Teaching Approach

(This is not your high school language class!)

In their informal beginning of the course surveys and interviews, most Lewis students indicate that their primary goal in studying a foreign language is to learn to speak in this language. To better meet students' needs in studying foreign languages, all courses are designed with this goal in mind, with reading and writing being, although important, but secondary goals.

Sign up for a foreign language class, and you will immediately discover that unlike your previous high school experience, the lion's share of our classes is spent on oral communication. Our course syllabi are quite uniform and differ only slightly from language to language. Our innovative Usage-Based Instruction (UBI) approach was inspired and informed by the Cognitive Perspective in Second Language Acquisition which sees language not as a collection of grammatical rules plus exceptions, but as a by-product of communication i.e. speaker's experience of understanding and producing language. Consequently, grammar is not used as an organizing principle of our courses and grammatical considerations are not taken into account in curriculum design. Instead, students learn the language through usage in real-life communication. Below just are few distinct features of Lewis University Foreign Language Program you will not find in other schools:

  • Average class size is 6 students: everybody gets individual attention and ample opportunities to speak
  • Focus on speaking and oral proficiency: most of the class time is spent on oral communication.
  • Classes focus on immediate practical skills
  • No quizzes, no long vocabulary lists, or tedious grammatical exercises and explanations.
  • Classes are stress-free: every student shines.
  • No homework overload: most students spend around 30 minutes on homework and find it very simple
  • No need to buy expensive textbooks: we provide you with all materials