How languages are learned (2)

I would like to share a little exerpt from a book that tries to encourage learners of any given language not to be afraid of exposure to original material even in their early stages of learning.

Language is one of the most complex systems our minds manage to master. We should or can trust our brains to acquire a lot of skills in ways we do not always understand or are able to describe. (And that we cannot or need not always control).

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Some Notes on Language Learning

A huge part of any learning process lies in repetition: doing something over and over again until whatever skill you wanted to learn has been internalized.

Though most participants in my classes are more interested in using what they already can, i.e. speaking with each other, communicating ideas, discussing issues etc. there might still be some need for additional practice in form of repetition. However, what do we mean by that? What kind? What kinds of activities might be useful, or more useful than others in language learning? Learning a language is not quite the same as learning a skill like a new figure in dancing or an instrument.

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About translation

I always tell my students to be careful whenever they resort to their native language to understand a new word they have encountered. One big disadvantage of online classes is that you cannot really stop people from ‘googling’ a word they don’t know or are not sure about by checking a translation site (hoping to get a ‘quick fix’ I guess).

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How Languages Are Learned (1)

This morning in class, the question of correcting came up again (see post from February 18).

A colleague, who subbed for me while I was on vacation, seems to have a noticeably different practice from my own and three of us started talking about this after class.

The issue of correcting someone while speaking raises a lot of questions concerning the process of language learning on the one hand, but also on the subject itself: what is it that we are actually learning? What is or should be in focus? Continue reading