Language Learning and the Intermediate Student

When a student has completed a pre-intermediate course, he enters a period of consolidation and expansion. What has been learnt so far must be practised constantly. At the same time, the student must learn to come to terms with wider English. He will still have intensive practice in the four skills, under standing, speaking, reading and writing, but many of the exercises he will be doing will be less mechanical.

At this level, there is less need for pattern control and contextualization. Now that the foundations have been laid, the student is in a position to cope with new sentence pattern as and when they occur. However, it is still necessary for the student to work from specially-written multi-purpose texts if he is to be trained systematically in speech and writing.

Student working at this level often wish to sit for academic examinations like the Cambridge Lower Certificate. Now it is a curious paradox that formal examinations often hinder rather than help a student to learn a language. However, there should be no need to work at cross-purposes: it is quite possible for the student to go on learning a language and to prepare for an examination at the same time. It must be clearly understood that a formal examination with its bias towards the written language will only exert a pernicious influence on language learning when it is regarded as an end in itself. When the teacher makes it him aim to get his class through an examination and no more, he will undoubtedly fail to teach the language properly. An examination must always be regarded as something secondary, a by-product which the student will in his stride. It must never be regarded as an end in itself. An intermediate course should not only enable a student to go on learning English systematically, but should, incidentally, enable him to pass an examination without special preparation.