95% of learners of a foreign language never learn to speak that foreign language. Perhaps you are not surprised to hear this as chances are you have been one of those 95%? If the same was said about first language instruction in schools, or Mathematics or Science the educational community, parents and the society at large would be appalled and calling for immediate revision of our school system. Unfortunately ineffective language instruction is so common place that people excuse these poor results with a number of misconceptions and myths:
1. Those who don’t succeed aren’t talented in learning a foreign language (many students end up telling themselves this).
Everyone who has learnt their first language can learn a second language given the right conditions. Some people may find it easier, some people may find it harder but everybody can do it and become fluent if they really want to.
2. Those who don’t succeed just don’t see any practical use for the language.
The same could be said for Mathematics, Science and other subjects. But why isn’t that excuse used for those subjects? The reality is, a foreign language is the most practical thing in the world. Before you learnt to walk, before you learnt to eat by yourself, before you learnt to go to the toilet, you were learning how to speak and communicate. Why? Because it is one of the most practical skills in the world.
Perhaps one or two students may be totally adverse to learning a language, and that’s fine, they can go into another class perhaps, read up on their Maths assignments or memorize the periodical chart of the elements. For most students though, communicating in a foreign language can become very fun and rewarding very quickly when done right.
3. There isn’t enough time given in the school schedule for language classes to be effective.
This is probably the most accurate point raised, sadly it is also the most infrequent point raised. Most schools assign less time to language classes in the schedule because it is considered less important. Also, ironically enough, because language classes usually deliver such poor results administrators also see this as a reason to reduce the amount of time that is given to them.
The reality is, language is best learnt intensively. It is more beneficial for students to learn every day for a year than it is for them for learn twice a week for 12 years, especially when they are only getting exposed to the language in class.
4. The teachers aren’t using the correct method of language instruction.
This is frequently true; teachers could be taking a different approach. But when they are not given enough time with students how can they expect to have any lasting effect on their level of language? Also the school curriculum often works against them; if students don’t make progress in the first 6 months they are already too far behind to ever catch up. A language learner that has been learning effectively for 6 months and one that hasn’t are usually at least whole level apart, one has already begun to communicate and the other can only understand a few words.
How about a student that begins seven years after the other students? If they find it easy to catch up, this shows just how much their classmates had been learning all those years.
About my journey:
My name is Hugh Elliott and I am not your average Indonesian teacher. I know, that is a strong statement to begin with but I didn’t have an average beginning to my language teaching career. So let me explain!
As a language learner in school I was not successful, I was part of the 95%. I was unmotivated, I did not believe learning a language easily was within my grasp and although my teacher was fantastic (when I think back) she struggled to keep track of the 20 students that were learning with her just once a week. Until now the only thing I remember from my French classes is “My name is Hugh” which is about as far as most foreign language students get.
I always enjoyed helping people become a better version of themselves and throughout high school was an avid bodybuilder. I used to train any of my friends who would let me to become stronger, faster and better built. The feeling I got from seeing my friends get guaranteed results by following my method was exhilarating. I also volunteered at my kickboxing club to become an assistant instructor and again loved seeing people master new skills with my assistance. By the time I graduated high school though I was ready for a new challenge. I wanted to move to Indonesia to be close to my childhood sweetheart (a story for another day) and knew there is a real demand for English teachers. Despite never learning a foreign language properly myself (other than basic survival phrases in Indonesian) I felt I could at least be of some use to my students as a native speaker, so I entered teachers college and got certified as a Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). The training gave me a good foundation as a teacher to build from and I began my first teaching position with confidence at one of the largest English instruction providers in the world at one of their centers in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was not long however that I felt I had learnt enough teaching with the institute that I wanted more time with my students and more control over the learning process, so I jumped at the offer of being employed as an English Coordinator and a local National Plus School (a schools that combines the Indonesian curriculum with international standards). At the school I was faced with complete responsibility for the program, from selecting the curriculum, designing the syllabus, training the teachers, and of course, teaching the students as a specialist teacher. Furthermore the school owner wanted me to help establish “an English environment” where English would be the main language used on campus. I did my research and formulated a plan, there would be times and places where the students could speak their mother tongue but at all other times in all other places around the campus they would have to use English. I bridged them into this habit during their first 3 months of instruction and within 1 year 100% of the students were comfortable and confident speaking in English independently. That’s right, 100%. In fact it only took them 4-8 months.
This made me wake up to the great failure of our language programs around the world. That students can achieve more in 4-8 months than many achieve in 12 years or more of education is a great tragedy.
After the success of my first coordinator’s post I went on to set up the language program at several other institutions and schools. Time and time again I found the same results, the main keys to success were a daily habit of using the language, efficient and effective instruction and a quick realization that ANYONE can learn a foreign language.
And yet, still many schools do not assign enough time for language classes and many institutes draw out the curriculum (increase the time in which it is delivered) so as to increase profit and have students learn with them for many years to come. These institutes may look like they provide affordable instruction but when the real cost is your time, the speed of your progress and tuition fees for many years you can start to realize that such an approach is not a good investment. Real language progress is not done with fancy certificates for each level you pass. It is done by reaching a level of communicative competence that satisfies YOU.
What I offer
Throughout my teaching career I have always refined my approach and the more I’ve taught the more I’ve realized I have to be selective if I want to be effective. Many times I have had to tell the owner of an institute or the foundation of a school that if they are not able to provide the students with the intensity and support they require to succeed I too will not be able to succeed and thus I cannot work with them. As I am almost always the highest paid member of staff thankfully they usually listen to me and the students can make never before seen progress because of that. Sadly not all schools and institutes have somebody like me to help them become better providers of language instruction. Some are lucky enough to have vision and the ability to make fantastic language programs but they are unfortunately in the minority.
I can only consult for so many schools and institutes in so many places. To create changes in the culture of an institute, school or organization can require many years of dedication and a lot of patience. This is why I still enjoy working with students directly until today.
Every 4 month term I limit myself to just 10 students that can receive individual and personalized coaching from me. I do this so I can constantly relive the thrill I experience when I see somebody become a better version of themselves. I do not call this “instruction” or “tutoring” but coaching. This is because it is intense and requires complete dedication from the student just as I am completely dedicated to their success as well. I have found this is the most ideal situation for language learning to take place and these are the conditions I feel most fulfilled with as a teacher too.
There are many benefits I have found with this approach, including but not limited to:
The more intensity the better and longer lasting the result
The fewer students I have the more I can fine tune my attention and teaching approach to their needs
Students only begin studying with me when they are ready to commit and make mastering their target level a priority
I can keep my students accountable as their individual progress and learning habits are never far from my mind
Is it time to commit to mastering your desired level of Indonesian?
You have read this far because you see the value of learning a foreign language and also know it can be done better and more efficiently than we usually see in schools. Surprisingly to get tailored exclusive coaching that will help you achieve the fastest results you have ever experienced does not cost that much. It costs a just little more than studying at a fancy private school in a class with a good language teacher and as it is exclusive and individually tailored (unlike at schools) it can deliver extremely superior results.
The whole point of my coaching is:
1) It keeps you accountable and 2) It ensures you get results.
You can apply for personalized coaching in the form bellow, the application process works as follows:
1) Fill in application form.
2) If your application indicates you are ready for the kind of coaching I provide I wil usually ask for you to arrange a call with me within two weeks of your application.
3) If you are accepted you will be given a place in the waiting list and we will keep in touch while you are waiting to get started.
I always have a full schedule as I’ve been taking on private students of a small quantity for a long time and a lot of my students hear about me by word of mouth. However I work on a first-come-first-served basis. That means the sooner you apply the sooner we can get started. Please don’t hesitate to fill in the form as soon as possible, I always enjoy meeting new students, hearing about their goals and seeing how I will be able to help them achieve them as quickly as possible.
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know a little bit about what I do through this page and even if you are not ready to commit at this time please follow me through instagram @Mr.Mungus so we can learn more about each other and advocate a brighter future for language students around the world.