From 1980 to 1990
There was only one bookstore in Lithuania where you could buy books imported from “the capitalist world”. That was the place where we would buy books untouched by Soviet censors, such as works written by W.S. Maugham, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Agatha Christie, Max Frisch, William Faulkner and others. Enthusiasts learned and taught English from those same books, learning new words and then giving the lists to others. In this way, we learned English pretty well. On those rare occasions when we got an opportunity to talk with foreigners, they expressed their sincere admiration: what a broad vocabulary you have, it sounds just like a real Dickens novel, in England we ourselves no longer use such nice language… We also used to learn correct pronunciation from recordings. We used record players and records we got through friends of friends, or even reel-to-reel tape players. And on those rarest of occasions when we managed to get our hands on a film in the original language, say, an Agatha Christie mystery or “One Flew over the Cuckooʼs Nest”, it was the perfect occasion for everybody to get together to watch and learn English, students and instructors alike.
From 1990 to 2000
A lot of changes came with Lithuania’s independence. Almost overnight, English became a very important language to many more people in Lithuania. We needed to exchange information with our neighbours in the West about the economy, medicine, law and other fields. We had to learn new terminology but there were few English-Lithuanian dictionaries at the time. Some terms did not even have an equivalent in Lithuanian, because the technologies were being introduced into our everyday lives only for the first time. In 1991, the first mobile telephone operator was established locally. In 1992, the British Council opened its doors in Vilnius, and our eyes almost jumped out of their sockets because of the many textbooks (in colour!) and other aids for language-learning. In 1993, educational and governmental institutions began to use the internet. The first private bookstore for foreign-language-teaching needs was established in 1991. That is where we could buy the now-legendary textbook “Headway” with audio cassettes and video. We established our foreign-language centre in 1997. English-language teachers had a lot of work because there was a whole nation to teach. In the early mornings, at lunch or after work, government officials, students, schoolchildren and businessmen would rush to their lessons, gripping a “Headway” in their hand or under their arm. Our first copy machine would overheat and break down, and there was a never-ending line of teachers making copies for their lessons.
We have looked back on our decades of experience in teaching foreign languages; we ourselves have tried various interactive and blended-learning programmes, methods and techniques. We have gathered a great deal of data about how other users of such programmes have fared in other countries, such as Italy and Spain. We have participated in non-traditional lessons, so-called clubs, where people gather and talk about everyday topics in a language they want to learn, without using any textbook.
We have analysed, dreamed and speculated about the many various ways our clients may want to learn a language in the future. And that’s how we created Kalbis. It consists of three innovative language-teaching services – Kalbis for communication, Kalbis for business and Kalbis for studies. You – a business organisation, a student or someone from the general public – are at the very centre of our services. We do our best to solve every client’s problem by being flexible, efficient, effective and accessible to everyone. So join us, learn together with us and, most of all, communicate with others!