The first thing that many students feel when starting their Callan classes is that the speed and pace of the class is very fast. They often may feel that they are out of their depth and that they will never understand. This is a perfectly natural feeling and they should not be deterred by the pace at which the teacher speaks – there is reason behind it!
Languages are not meant to be spoken slowly and deliberately so that every word can be clearly defined and understood. If you learn in this way you are not learning to naturally speak the language and you are not learning to accustom yourself to the speed of the language. Whilst it may be easier, it is very forced and unrealistic to learn in this way. Callan teachers speak more quickly than they normally would in order for you to become accustomed to this speed – if you understand them, you will understand the average person on the street, who is not always going to slow themselves down for your benefit! A Callan teacher should be speaking at a minimum of two hundred words a minute. The average is two hundred and forty, which is higher than the rate at which an English speaker will generally talk. So, in this way, your ears are getting used to English spoken rapidly – and if you understand a Callan teacher, you´ll understand anyone!
We also speak quickly so that it stops you making mental translations. When learning a language, translating every word is not generally helpful. It slows you down, it makes your sentence structure completely different, and in some cases of vocabulary or grammar, it´s just not possible! In the real world, people speak quickly and do not want to have to slow down to translate something, or to search for a word. The speed helps your fluency when speaking in English, trying to help you to speak naturally rather than forcedly and with translation.
Thirdly, rapid speech and movement equates to a more animated and therefore enjoyable class. With the correct speed and rhythm, the teacher does not give you time to look at your book, wonder what you are having for dinner, or what you will be doing after the class. The perfect Callan teachers keeps things flowing quickly, is always moving, and doesn´t give you the time to get bored!
So, whilst it may seem difficult at first, everything becomes easier with time and practice. A student gets accustomed to the speed in no time, and as they do so, their listening improves greatly, as does their fluency and confidence as they start to imítate the teacher´s speed. Learning a language is never an easy task, but we should at least try to make it as enjoyable and natural as possible!