Education has turned into a hybrid learning process between classrooms with a physical presence and ones that are virtual.
The same applies to the way we learn languages in the time of Covid-19.
Momizen interviewed Susanna Mineve, the Owner and Managing Director of Wordculture Language School in Zurich, to understand how young children and teenagers can continue pursuing their language studies, and even find the support they need for Gymi examinations during these changing times.
M: How was the concept of Wordculture born?
SM: When we founded Wordculture in 2013, we were finally able to realise our dream of a small, high-quality and above all family-friendly language school. In addition to lessons for adults, teenagers as well as our daily childcare, we also offer special language courses for children from 3 years of age.
M: Language learning from 3 years old, how does that work?
SM: We came up with a special teaching approach for small children based on the idea: "learning by playing", inspired by the Montessori methodology. Through interactive groups of 3-6 children, children begin by using all their senses: they sing, paint, perform arts & crafts, they listen to music, to stories, and play with our puppet theatre in the target language.
During all our interactions we are very attentive to their interests and discuss all the topics they are curious about, such as science, nature and sport. This encourages intrinsic motivation and deeper engagement making communication in the 2nd language a rewarding effort. Classes up to 12 years old are continuing to take place and are are grouped by age groups, 3 to 6 years, 6 to 9 years, and 9 to 12 years.
M: There are many new parents who would like to continue their foreign language education or even need to gain their certification in order to begin working again. Does Wordculture accommodate the need of child-care during adult classes?
SM: Yes, every morning between 9:00 to 11:00 am we offer professional care for children from 6 months. For students with a different program individual arrangements can be made. We have four dedicated and experienced care givers who take care of the children while their parents have class. Depending on the children’s ages there are creative and educational games available. Furthermore, our offer includes all care and hygiene products required for the duration of the lesson.
M: There is a growing number of multilingual families in Zurich. How does Wordculture cater to the needs of a bilingual or trilingual family?
SM: Zurich is becoming very international and many children are raised speaking two or more languages. Bilingual and trilingual children receive special support in our courses "to promote the mother tongue". It is proven that children who master their mother tongue can also begin acquiring other languages being spoken at home successfully too. Therefore, our courses are primarily intended to support the first language. In this way, we pave the way for children growing up in bilingual families to build foundations for learning the languages of both parents, both verbally and in writing, which is an enormous advantage later in life. Languages open new horizons, in every respect!
M: As multilingual children grow up, their language expectations by the school become more demanding, especially in Gymi. How does Worldculture support academic language requirements and preparing for school examinations?
SM: Our language classes address also older children preparing for school exams. Depending on the needs of the group, we focus on skills such as writing and reading as well as supporting them in all school subjects to fill gaps in the school curriculum. Our teachers are familiar with the requirements of the Swiss school system and have already successfully accompanied many children through the Gymnasium (Gymi) examination, in German and French.
M: How has your classroom adjusted to the of Corona?
SM: Based on the new regulations from 2nd November 2020 - Bundesamt für Gesundheit (BAG), the courses for children up to 12 years of age continue to be held in our school with physical presence. We very much welcome this, as it has been our experience in recent months that small children learn much better through direct contact with the teacher and their peers in the classroom than they would be online.
Online courses are available for children over 12 years old and teenagers.
M: How many languages do you offer at Wordculture and what are the standards that your teachers share in order to provide quality education in each language?
SM: All our teachers have formal education to teach children and adult and are highly experienced.
The teachers who teach young children are all native speakers in the respective language, in addition to their formal qualifications as teachers.
Our school follows a curriculum that we developed at Wordculture, based on our knowledge, experience and long-term observation. We train all our instructors according to our methodology and we create a lot of opportunities for continuing learning and growth.
We prepare our students for the examinations of levels A1-C2 in the following languages:
If we have a request for a foreign language that is not in our current curriculum, then we can tap into a large pool of teachers that share our teaching standards and offer our students the language studies of their choice.
Susanna can be reached daily at Wordculture, where an appointment can be booked for a consultation, placement test and free trial class for adults and little ones!
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