Live Coaching is a great tool for speaking another language, especially in times of social distancing. Human connectivity is everything right now. I was excited to use Rosetta Stone’s Live Coaching because that meant being able to talk to someone like me who’s stuck at home. I will say that I didn’t expect to get schooled the way I did in these sessions!
Mother and language learner, Errol De Jesus, has been making good use of the free Rosseta Stone Coaching currently available to all customers as part of Rosetta Stone’s response to the COVID-19 lockdown. Here she tells about her experiences attending group coaching sessions in Japanese.
If you’re nervous about speaking another language, I understand. I was too! But, by the end of my first Live Coaching Session, I dreaded saying goodbye. The sessions are there to help you get over your fears and enjoy having conversations.
A group coaching session is 25 minutes long and can have up to three other participants. Once you enter the virtual classroom, you can see the coach live on web camera in the left-hand corner; next to the coach is a slideshow of images from the Unit being studied. For my group sessions, there were travel images that the coach used to guide the discussion and ask questions.
My first group session was with a Japanese coach called Kaori-san and another learner called Andrew. Kaori-san went through the lesson content, which included names of countries, continents, and oceans. I felt like a deer caught in headlights when she asked me what ‘Pacific Ocean’ is in Japanese! I can certainly recognised the word in Japanese, but I don’t know it off the top of my head.
Later, when I was asked what kind of animals live in nankyoku tairiku (Antarctica), I answered, “raion (lion).” I realised my mistake and we all started laughing. I can read, write, and speak Japanese well but slip-ups still happen!
It’s nice to be able to make mistakes, even in front of other people, and laugh about it. The coach won’t count anything against you if you mess up.
As Kaori-san moved through the different pictures from the learning Unit, Andrew and I asked each other questions in Japanese. We started off with simple questions like kore wa nan desu ka? (what is this?) and kono hito wa nani wo shite imasu ka? (what is this person doing?) I didn’t think we’d go further than a few simple sentences, but the coach guided us to be more descriptive and use more Japanese words.
Also, Kaori-san didn’t let us switch to English and always made sure that she prompted us to think for ourselves rather than just give us the answer. For example, she showed us a picture of a man dressed in a camouflage uniform and typed out the word heishi (soldier). I asked, “imi wa nan desu ka?” (what does that mean?). Kaori-san responded, “kuni wo mamoru hito” (someone who protects the country). So instead of telling me the answer directly in English, she kept my mind working in Japanese mode!
I also loved being able to connect with other language learners and discover their motivations behind studying Japanese. I had another live session with coach, Mari-san. Here I met Chris, who is learning Japanese to be able to communicate better with his new in-laws! He talked about the beautiful mountains in West Virginia, and I joked about seeing horses in parking lots in Texas where I grew up.
Mari-san incorporated some questions about our locations by asking “otenki wa dou desu ka?” (how is the weather?) or “kyou wa nando desu ka?” (what’s the temperature today?). Everyone took turns answering and we even got to have small conversations with each other. It was like an online language exchange mixer.
Group sessions can feel intimidating at first but they’re great opportunities to practice staying on top of your speaking skills. I’ve shared some vulnerability with other language learners and I’ve gained more confidence. What’s more, it’s proved a great cure for cabin fever! I look forward to scheduling more sessions and getting to know even more language learners.
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