We build on what you already know. So you never start from ZERO. Our teacher uses the student’s language as the frame of reference to compare and show what’s similar and what’s different in English. When the teacher doesn’t speak the student’s language, we will use a shared language (such as Indonesian or Japanese) as the frame of reference.
This strategy allows students to see general patterns between English and their language. And it helps them to guess what might work and what might not work in English, especially with grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary.
This is not an easy job. It doesn’t simply involve talking the student’s language or sharing a common language such as Indonesian, Japanese or Chinese. It involves knowing the language used as a frame of reference very well ! We put in a lot of time training our teachers to do that, and sharing best practices with them.
Over the years, we have noticed that most beginner students feel a sense of isolation when only English is used in class. When English is used as the medium of instruction, it creates a non-threatening environment where students feel more comfortable to participate actively in class. This helps build a better rapport between student and teacher, since students generally relate better to a bilingual teacher who speaks their language! We have therefore adopted the practice of gradually cutting down on the use of English in class as students progress to higher levels.