Should I learn English with the Callan Method?
There are many different approaches to language teaching. When choosing a school or a course, it can be difficult for the student to decide which method is best. Callan Method is very popular. In this article I will explain what the method is and its advantages/disadvantages.
While many people feel very strongly about language learning/teaching methods, there are no methods that I would say are always right or always wrong. As a teacher, I have taught using many different methods (including direct methods like Callan Method). I have seen students make progress using just about every possible method (including watching soap operas or listening to Metallica).
What works depends on the student. In fact, any method will likely work, given enough time and motivation. If you find a method you like, you will do it more. This will lead to more time spent with the language and more motivation to continue.
So find a method you like!
What is it?
In the Callan Method there are 7 books, one for each level in the method. The books contain lists of questions. The teacher reads each question twice and points to a student to answer. The student is expected to answer as written in the book and will be prompted by the teacher if they stray from this format.
Each lesson consists of two 50 minute sessions separated by a 10 minute break. The sessions consist of the following parts:
- Review: The teacher starts by asking questions a few pages before the point where the class ended last lesson.
- New material (only in the second 50 minute session): The teacher briefly explains new vocabulary and asks questions the students haven't heard before.
- Reading: The students open their books and take turns reading the questions and answering to each other.
- Dictation: The teacher reads a short text using vocabulary words recently learned and the students write it down. Later they compare what they wrote to the text in the book. This is to work on listening and spelling.
Here is a short video from a Callan Method lesson:
You can also watch a few videos on the Official Callan School of London website.
- It is largely spoken. Some students don't like grammar, writing or long readings and listenings.
- It can be very fast-paced. If you get bored by the slow moments in class, you may find that Callan Method helps to keep you awake!
- Lots of review. Every lesson begins with review of previous material. This helps to reinforce what you learn.
- No homework. If you don't have a lot of time for language study, it can be difficult to study at home. This method is done entirely in class.
- Some of the vocabulary can be rather old or rare. I heard (but can't find a link to verify it) that Robin Callan (the creator of the method) doesn't want the books to be updated and so they contain some out-dated material.
- The questions can be unusual or artificial -- it isn't real communication. If you want to want to express yourself more naturally or be creative with English, you will not enjoy it.
- The lessons have no topic or theme -- the questions are completely unrelated to each other. Again, making this unlike real communication. If you want interesting content in English, you won't find it in a Callan lesson.
If you have tried lessons using more traditional methods and you didn't enjoy them, try a Callan Method lesson. Most Callan schools (like the one in Kraków) will let you try one lesson for free to see if you like it.
It is not for everyone. For example, I wouldn't enjoy learning Polish with this method. But if you like it more and find it easier to stay committed to studying than with other methods, it may be what helps you finally improve your English.
Have you tried Callan method? What do you think? Please leave a comment below!