Say you walk into your bookstore and browse the books on learning a specific language (Spanish for Dummies, etc). In a flash, you face a wave of books on grammar. Books upon books that tell you to say it this way, watch out for that context. And so on. And suddenly, you are awash with memories of your third-grade grammar drills.
But really, being able to talk about a second language’s grammar in your first language has nothing to do with being able to SPEAK that second language.
Let me put it this way.
Say you sign up for a karate class
At your first lesson, the instructor sits you down at a desk and charts out on a blackboard all the muscles you will use to throw a punch. She gives you a chart to memorize with all the muscles names, and the order in which you have to contract or release them in order to throw a punch. Then she takes you through a set of exercises in which you supply the correct muscle twitch in a series of examples. Next week the lesson will cover balance.
Would you return for a second class? I wouldn’t! Who needs that kind of detailed breakdown? Maybe a physical therapist would find it helpful, but it’s pretty useless for self defense.
We know there are better ways to learn karate. Well, there’s a better way to learn language, too.
And it’s actually a lot more fun.
The first key is to work with a native speaker
Just like you when you speak English, they know what “sounds right” in their language. By definition, if something “sounds right” to a native speaker then it is grammatically correct.
The second key is to listen furiously
Spend a significant amount of time listening to speech you can understand. In the beginning you’ll need to have a lot of stuff to help you understand your friend. Toys, pictures, photographs can all supply the context to help you understand the new language.
The third key is to be analytical
Pay attention to patterns, make hypotheses, and conduct experiments. As you reflect, analyze, and investigate, you will internalize the way the language works much more deeply and effectively.
Sounds intriguing, but a bit overwhelming?
This is where you start
At MOSAIC, we can get you started in your language journey or even help you out of stagnation. Our Pre-FLITE workshop introduces you to the Growing Participator Approach to language learning. In it you will learn:
- How to work with a native speaker from day one
- How to use a program to get the right language at the right time (designed by friendly, understanding linguists)
- Engaging games and activities that energize learning language that you can use right away.
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