Classes can be a great way of getting good, consistent input in your language learning journey. For many people, myself included, learning stagnates without a push to keep going (and there’s nothing like having paid for classes to make sure you go, and therefore learn). But sometimes the classes are not worth your precious time and hard-earned money.
I’m sure everyone, at some point in their lives, has been in a class that was simply moving too quickly or two slowly. Perhaps you aced biology and didn’t get why the teacher was explaining photosynthesis yet again. Or maybe nothing your biology teacher said made any sense, but when you got home and your mum/brother/cousin explained it to you, it all clicked into place.
Mass education is always going to have a mix like this in a class, even if classes are grouped in levels.
And actually, it’s not always a bad thing. For starters, a good teacher will address this issue when they’re planning their lessons, thinking about ways to help the weak students and push the strong ones. Moreover, being a weak student for that level can be excellent motivation to work hard and catch up with the rest of the class. Stronger students can likewise compete to stay at the top.
However, sometimes the pace is not just a bit out of sync, sometimes it’s so far off that you need to stop attending classes.
If your class is totally above your level, you’re going to spend a lot of time feeling lost or confused. You’ll feel like the language is too hard. It’s not. Anyone can learn a language, but we all progress at different rates. You’ve been thrown in at the deep end of the swimming pool before you’re ready. You need a little more practice at the shallow end and before you know it you’ll be able to move up. That’s it. Just like learning to swim, dropping down a level will make you feel more comfortable, as well as broaden your knowledge on details you felt like you whizzed through before, and ultimately increase your confidence learning and using Vietnamese.
On the flip side, if your class is moving too slowly this is also when you should stop attending. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that these classes are still better than nothing, but if you leave every class frustrated and fed up because classes are moving as slow as the slowest student or you’re staring at the clock waiting for class to finish, it’s time to quit.
A different class, a private class one-on-one with a teacher or taking a new approach like a language exchange could be just what you need to spice things up again and keep moving forward.