LANGUAGE JOURNEYS

What is Language Journeys?

Language Journeys is an educational platform for independent learning so that you can become your best teacher. It is a new way to learn languages that tries to break away with the traditional language learning methods based on modules. It is based on progressive learning and the idea that you can learn a language while traveling. On your journey you will be placed in situations that you might encounter if you decided to start a journey in real life.

How does it work?

While other websites use a topic-based learning system based on grammar-translation, Language Journeys combines a story-based approach with a new linguistic rewiring technique. Besides, following a journey will give you a reason to continue, making the process more meaningful. In other words, you don’t get to the next unit to learn all “colors”, “family members” or “weather conditions”, but you learn them progressively, just like in real life.

What is linguistic rewiring?

Linguistic rewiring is a language learning theory which consists of progressive transformation exercises aimed at creating a smooth transition from your mother tongue to the target language. As an adult you are not learning a language, but RElearning it. When you learn a new language your mother tongue reacts, creating a barrier. Transformation exercises help break this barrier and take you from known to new structures so that you can retrain your brain to the new system in a smooth way. Besides, these exercises are similar to the way you learned your mother tongue – when you sometimes made mistakes and received the correct feedback, which made you notice them.

What is the difference between transforming and repeating?

When you repeat you exercise your memory. When you transform, you exercise both your memory and your intelligence, as you practice new structures with old words or old structures with new words.

What is the difference between a traditional course and a journey?

You usually take courses in formal education to pass exams and get an official certificate. On a journey the focus is on language learning itself, not learning in order to get a certificate. This resembles more the way in which natural learning takes place. On your journey you focus more on learning the language in context. Upon finishing the journey you will be able to pass exams – just like you are able to pass an exam in your mother tongue – but it will be a consequence, not the goal of the journey.

What is the difference between a journey and a trip?

We understand that on some occasions people need the language for a specific purpose. With that in mind we have also created trips, which are organized by topic and level. Trips consist of specific transformation exercises that will allow you for example to improve your conditionals, prepare for a job interview or practice famous lines from movies or songs.

What is the structure of each lesson?

Your journey is composed of chapters (lessons) that get unblocked progressively as you complete them. The same applies to the parts inside each chapter. This linear learning prevents you from getting lost between too many options and gives coherence to your learning experience.

  1. STORY

The story provides the context to your journey. It provides meaningful learning, since you have a reason to come back other than simply “learn the language”.

  1. VOCABULARY

Here you become familiar with the vocabulary related to the corresponding chapter. First, you are introduced to some words or phrases with their corresponding translation. Then you read and listen to them without the translation and have to choose the correct option among four possible options. Finally, you have to choose the correct option just by listening to them.

  1. AUDIOCARDS

Here you listen to a sentence and then transform it to create new linguistic habits in the target language. In so doing you retrain your brain to the new system in a similar way to the cognitive restructuring techniques used in psychological therapy. At the end of each audiocard you get some feedback as to how you performed. You pass the activity if you get at least a 60% of correct options. If you don’t get that minimum it is convenient to repeat the exercise. For best use of the website you should practice each audiocard until you don’t hesitate in your answers and can do it with minimal effort. The purpose is to internalize the new language.

  1. LINGUACARDS

Linguacards consist of a series of exercises to improve your deductive reasoning skills. The exercises consist mainly of multiple choice questions which vary from transformation exercises to logical reasoning questions. This section covers the deductive part of language learning.

  1. TEST

The test consists of a series of multiple choice exercises based on written words, audio and images so that you can check how you are doing at each point in your journey.

  1. DIARY

It is important to connect what you have learned with real life. The diary is the place where you keep a travel journal to customize your experience. Picturing yourself in your destination will help you learn the language at the same time as you create a virtual life that could turn into real some time. The diary is a place where you can experiment with the language and make mistakes, just like you did when you were a kid. Keeping a journal will allow you to relate the words you learned during the unit with real life and provides a more emotional type of learning.

You can write in your mother tongue and get help with the translator. At first you will be lost, but eventually you will be able to detect patterns and self-correct. In this way you will pass from covering grammar to discovering grammar. As you progress in your journey, you will be able to look back on the past, just like in real life. You can decide to keep your entries private or share them in the Meeting Point. All entries are storied in your diary.

  1. MEETING POINT

The meeting point is the place where language travelers share their journeys and correct each other. It is a place where people grow together instead of competing against each other.

  1. PASSPORT

In this section you will be rewarded for accomplishing certain things on your journey. It consists of different types of badges that you can earn through completing certain activities or doing side quests. As in real life, you need to keep your passport updated, so keep an eye for new activities!

What languages are available?

We will be testing English and Spanish, as new content is added regularly. We expect to add French and German in the foreseeable future and even more languages depending on users’ response.

Who can use this website?

Journeys are suitable for users 12+, while most A1 Trips can be done from 8 years.

What type of subscriptions are there?

For the time being Language Journeys is offered freely in beta mode for testers who sign up through email or social networks. In the future we are planning on a Fremium model, where users will have free access to certain parts of the platform and will only be charged if they want full access. You will be able to cancel any time and will have access to the platform until the paid period expires.

How many levels are there? Can I access all levels?

Both journeys and trips are organized by levels according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, a guideline used to describe the achievements of language learners. Once you become a Premium user, you can access all levels. Since the platform is organized in the form of a story, if you access for example the B2 level directly, you will find a summary of the story up to that point.

LANGUAGE LEARNING

What is the best way to learn a language?

The best way is between 0-6 years old. For adults there is no “best” way to learn a language. If there was, everybody would be using “that way”. Language learning is not easy, just like learning algebra or advanced math. You can learn a language deductively (focus on form) or inductively (focus on meaning), but not subconsciously. The “best way” is to choose the method which best suits your learning style. Ultimately, language learning is a combination of both deductive and inductive learning – the more you advance, the more you can rely on your previous knowledge to find out the meaning of new words.

What is the fastest way to learn a language?

How fast you learn a language will depend on your motivation, hard work, the L1-L2 distance, the target level, the method you choose and your language aptitude. The “fastest” way would be to lower your target level – the lower your objective, the less vocabulary and structures you will have to learn. Shortcuts are usually detours disguised as less work. And this does not only apply to language, but also to other fields. To learn anything, you have to go from 1 to 5. You cannot solve cubic equations before you know how to add. No one wants to hear that their surgeon took shortcuts in med school. Of course there are good tips and techniques, but ultimately you learn out of study and practice, just like with everything else.

Why is language learning difficult?

Actually, it is not difficult for children (0-6 yrs), who acquire any language simply through exposure and interaction. The problem is that adults are not learning a language but relearning it. When you learn a new language, your first language reacts, and creates interferences. This is why breaking those mental patterns is so important. The confusion comes when we compare the organic way in which children acquire their first language (L1) with the systematic way adults use to accomplish the same task. This is why adults need to find good techniques to make the most of their analytical abilities.

Why should I choose independent learning? Don’t you learn by talking?

Language learning is not “either…or”. It is often a combination of several methods. In many types of learning there is an element of mechanical repetition before you reach your ultimate goal. Someone trying to play a Beethoven violin concerto or trying to break a 1,500m record will have to spend a certain time doing mechanical activities until they reach the final objective. While the ultimate purpose of language is to communicate, independent learning gives you the tools to lay strong foundations so that you feel confident in your speaking endeavors. Ultimately all learning is self-learning.

Can I learn with a language partner?

Sure, as long as you understand the difference between practicing and learning. Throwing balls over a net does not mean you are learning how to play tennis. To make progress you need to be exposed to new vocabulary and structures so that you can move from lower to higher levels in a progressive way. Otherwise you may reach a plateau where you keep on practicing the same vocabulary and structures over and over again because you feel comfortable in your comfort zone.

How long will it take me to learn a language?

It depends on your target level. If all you need to say is short sentences like “Where is the library?” or “Two beers, please” then you could learn a few expressions like those in less than a week with a language phrasebook. However, reaching a fluent level will be the result of your motivation, hard work, the L1-L2 distance, the method you choose, and your language aptitude. You should see language learning as a challenge and be content with your ability in each step of the process.