Coaching and Mentoring: Key Allies in Language Learning
International Coaching Federation defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
Coaching is a collaborative relationship where the coach doesn't position themselves as an expert, recognizing that the best expert on one's life is the individual themselves. Instead, the coach refrains from giving direct advice and uses questions to stimulate the person's thinking, helping them gain clearer insights, increase their inner engagement, and improve themselves.
On the other hand, mentoring is an asymmetric relationship where the mentor is an expert in a specific subject and brings their experiences and knowledge to the mentee. The mentor acts as a guide in a particular area or topic, helping find the right direction or solution. In mentoring, a coaching approach is often used, and if beneficial, the mentor may also contribute with insights and suggestions.
Based on these foundations, language coaching applies general coaching principles and models to the area of language education, incorporating elements of mentoring and, when needed, direct language teaching. In Slovakia, language coaching is not yet widely known in the field of language learning, but it is gaining more attention as it addresses the specific needs of students that are not fully met through standard teaching methods.
Traditional language courses focus on developing vocabulary, grammar, and communication skills in a foreign language, which are fundamental and essential aspects of language acquisition. However, dedicating 2-3 hours per week during lessons and subsequently working on homework is not enough for visible progress. What about the remaining 110 awake hours we have? How do we incorporate language activities into our busy lives? And how can we do it in a meaningful and sustainable way, aligned with an individual's lifestyle? Language coaching and mentoring provide support to students precisely in this area.
"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily." - Zig Ziglar
Studying any language is a lifelong process, and when we realize this, it allows us to transition from the "language study" mode to the "living in the language" mode. We stop perceiving language as a goal, but rather as a means for personal and professional growth, skill development, and pursuing our interests. The result is the transformation of the student into an active language user.
Language coaching and mentoring, therefore, help students learn to set their own language goals, rid themselves of limiting beliefs that hinder their progress, assess their abilities and resources, overcome obstacles, rediscover motivation for learning, and discover effective learning strategies that work best for them. Additionally, they enable preparation for challenges and pitfalls associated with using a foreign language in everyday life or a business environment.