What is SWIRL?
SWIRL is Hills Learning’s own teaching methodology. It comprises of S – Speaking W – Writing I – Intonation (Pronunciation) R – Reading L – Listening
We use this teaching method along with our philosophy of target language only in the classroom. So we expect that both teachers (and students) try to use the language that they are learning in the classroom as much as possible.
Hills Learning incorporate FIVE language techniques in both group classes and private lessons. These techniques are Speaking, Writing, Intonation, Reading and Listening (SWIRL). We follow the SWIRL methodology inside the classroom; moreover, we encourage students to apply the method in their daily language learning opportunities and language exchange events.
We believe that these language techniques are indispensible to one’s language acquisition and production. At Hills Learning, we aim to offer a Highly Interactive Language Learning experience to students in both group classes and private lessons. Hence, our language lessons are structured into three tiers of focus.
The top tier comprises of Speaking and Listening. In all our language classes, the focus of the classroom are the speaking and listening components of the language. We feel that these are the most important aspects of learning language, “to speak is to know.” It’s also been the most popular with our students, most students want to focus on communicating the language orally, whether it’s for travel, business, or just personal reasons.
The second tier focuses on Intonation (Pronunciation). Please note, while we say “Intonation” we really mean Pronunciation. Although Intonation is important in tonal languages such as Thai or Chinese (and to some extent English), pronouncing language correctly really determines your ability to get your point across. In Mandarin if you use the wrong tone you’ll say a completely different word, in phonetic languages such as Korean or Japanese it’s also important.
The third tier of SWIRL comprises Reading and Writing. Although this is the bottom tier and thus least in importance, it’s important to say here “last but not least.” Our philosophy is that while the other language skills are ranked higher, you will never be fluent in the language without learning how to read and write it. This is a very important point because a lot of English native speakers who have never been exposed to characters and / or scripts in these languages usually are adverse to learning them (credit renzi). It’s important to learn to read and write all our languages, because once you live abroad in those countries you cannot function without knowledge of those alphabets.
It’s important to note here that SWIRL is our overall teaching methodology and what our teachers are trained on, however, when taking private lessons it is possible for students to request developing one language skill over the other. Group classes generally follow the SWIRL framework, focusing on speaking and listening in the classes, and reading and writing is more for outside practice and homework.