Role of the Tutor
The tutor is not a teacher, grammatical questions are out of place, and class participation is dependent on your prior practice. The session is to be entirely in the target language. You will find that not using English is easier than you think.
If you find that your tutor seems to have a slightly different accent than the voice on the tapes, remember that variations in language are to be expected. Even among your English-speaking classmates, it is unlikely that everyone speaks the same way. Any variation would be well within the range of your learning capabilities.
If you find that your tutor is speaking too fast for you, do not ask him or her to slow down. Your comprehension skills are developed through the multimedia and practice components where you can stop and listen to an utterance, said exactly the same way, over and over until you understand it. If you have problems understanding your tutor, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I spending a great deal of time studying the material visually rather than using the multimedia/practice materials?
- Am I using these materials with my book open, so that my eyes are really doing the comprehension work, rather than my ears?
- Am I concentrating on learning single words rather than on conversational utterances?
Drill Sessions & Exercises
You will be constantly corrected in drill session. The tutor will not be embarrassed in correcting you, and you should not be embarrassed in being corrected. It will be one of the tutor's key functions, and it is in your best interest as a language learner.
It will be important to close your text during the drill session. In studying a language, many of us are better in the visual mode than in the oral/aural mode. Our "eye memory" seems more reliable than our "mouth and ear memory." The idea is not to avoid or forego visual work, but rather to use it as a preparatory step for oral/aural work. Do not use the visual crutch in practice work and in drill session. Your goal is to speak and comprehend the language in face-to-face communication. If you find that your first impulse, when called on in the drill session, is to open the book, you can be sure that you are not practicing sufficiently in your class preparation.
Much of tutorial time will be devoted to pattern drills and exercises. Conversation is limited to the assigned material you are learning. Drills and language-use exercises are part of a learning design to insure that, at some point, you will be able to carry on conversation. If the material assigned has been mastered, the tutor will provide ample opportunities for structured conversational and creative practice.
You might feel limited at first because of the vocabulary. Textbooks purposely restrict vocabulary, the easiest thing to master in a foreign language, so that you can concentrate on the more difficult components of learning: pronunciation, sentence structure, and fluency. A massive vocabulary is of no purpose if you cannot use the words in a grammatical sentence with accurate pronunciation and smooth delivery. Additional vocabulary can be easily learned afterwards.
You will be asked to memorize, or more properly stated, "overlearn," certain dialogues. You are asked to "overlearn" dialogues for the following reasons:
- To promote fluency and intonational accuracy.
- To allow you to internalize examples of patterns for later expansion through drills and exercises
- To demonstrate how words are actually used in sentences and social contexts.
- To introduce formulaic and idiomatic expressions (e.g., salutations, introductions, apologies, etc.), and to show the appropriate usage of such expressions in communication situations.