Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Learning a foreign language

There is a multitude of articles on learning a foreign language out there in cyberspace. Most of these, like 10 Tips for Language Learning Success offer common-sense advice, most of which is applicable to learning in general (e.g. set realistic expectations, identify your learning style, etc.).

Language acquisition is thus often approached from the standpoint of regular, consistent study and memorization. There is nothing wrong with this. However, I have always felt there are more effective and enjoyable ways to learn a language.

I spent much time in early 2004 reading about less traditional language acquisition methods and techniques. I also applied many of them to my study of the foreign language I was attempting to learn at that time. Some of these techniques seemed quite bizarre (Suggestopedia and subliminal learning among them). Some methods I have used all along without giving much thought to them.

For example, when learning French pronunciation in high school I never gave much thought to the rules scrupulously outlined in my textbook. Instead I listened to texts read out loud and followed them in printed form. I noticed patterns and let the rules form themselves in my head without much memorization. It was easy, it was fun, and it was very much intuitive.

I also noticed that once you become passionate about a language (even obsessed with it) many obstacles commonly faced by language learners miraculously disappear. Language learning is not much different from any other human endeavor—love for an activity creates effortless commitment and commitment to learning is what we need most, don't we?

I can relate to much of what Kató Lomb says about language acquisition. Lomb, who was one of the first simultaneous interpreters in the world, has mastered many languages—some of them when she was well past middle age. Now that I think of it, she could serve as a good role model for me. Guess who my next entry in this blog will be about?


Blogger J. Carlos said...

This is a related post worth a reading:

Learning foreign languages. Tips:


Blogger doshimaitri said...

learning a new language or rather language immersion is a very tough as well as a talented work. But as you said learning a foreign language is better dependent on your goal, as if the goal is for getting a job then it will be much mor fast to learn the language and if it is only for to know new things then it will take a much time for learning it.



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