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Learning Languages at Different Levels

By: Suzanne Elvidge BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 24 Oct 2014 |
Language Qualification Conversation

Even though English (whether it’s British English, American English, or any other variant) is pretty much an international language now, it is still really important to have at least a grasp of other languages. This could be to order food in a restaurant while on holiday, to feel part of the local area when living abroad, or to be aware of negotiations or just chat with colleagues when working overseas or just collaborating with foreign companies.

It is possible to learn languages at many different levels, from scratch for absolute beginners through to high-level qualifications to be able to work every day or to teach a language.

Learning Languages for Total Beginners

It is much easier to learn languages as a child – small children seem to be able to absorb the information in a way that adults cannot. But it’s never too late to get some grasp of a new language. Many colleges, and some schools, will run language courses for absolute beginners. Look in the library for lists of courses, or check the websites of local schools and colleges for listings of courses. Some may have discounts for older people, people with disabilities, or people on low income.

Don’t feel shy about going along knowing nothing – in a course specially designed for beginners, everyone will be in the same boat. The most important advice is to practise speaking the language every day, ideally with a native speaker or somebody who is fluent if possible, or just by leading or watching a film. When travelling, just to be brave and give it a try – making an effort in the local language is always appreciated.

If joining a group course doesn’t appeal, look out for tutors who will run one-to-one classes. These will be more expensive, but can be more intensive, and could be good for people who are feeling self-conscious, or who want to learn a language quickly or for a specific purpose, for example a new job.

Practising Languages for Conversation

Not everyone wants a qualification in a language – for some people it’s just a chance to make holidays abroad much more fun (and much easier), by brushing up their old language skills. Many local colleges run short conversational language courses, especially over the summer. These give people the opportunity to remember and practice things that they have learned in the past, and to learn new words and phrases, and tend to be around conversation, rather than grammar and reading or writing.

Getting Qualifications in Languages

Qualifications in languages are possible at all levels, from basic certificates through GCSEs, A levels and degrees. For people who are looking for a career using a foreign language, a degree is an important qualification to gain. People can study for language degrees full time at university, either focussing on the language alone, or combining it with another course, such as business. It’s also possible to study for a language degree part-time, either by attending classes at a local college or university during the day or in the evening, or through distance learning at the Open University.

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@kalwellman - Your Jobcentre Plus adviser will be able to give you more information about programmes that can help you prepare for, find and stay in work. One area is the Work Programme which will provide you with support, work experience and training for up to two years. Regarding becoming a teaching assitant local education authorities and individual schools usually decide which qualifications or what experience they want applicants to have. If you have enough experience of working with children or can show employers that you have the right personality and potential, you may be able to start work without qualifications and train on the job. Also once you have begun work there are good opportunities to develop your career by completing further qualifications right up to Higher Level Teaching Assistant. I hope this helps.
ExploreAdultLearning - 27-Oct-14 @ 9:55 AM
i am a 43 year old mother of five. and for the past 2 years been on jsa and i hate it i would love to retrain in health and social or teaching assistant.. I have had sanctions for the past 2 months because i was sick and missed the work programme. I think re training is the only way to go .. thework programme has done nothing but stopped what little money i get . . My health has suffered i have chronic hypertension i am monitored every week
kalwellman - 24-Oct-14 @ 3:40 PM
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