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Secrets of Learning a Language II


“We can recognize that the acquisition of the mother tongue is a universal cognitive process, inherent to the human condition. The Language ability, materialized in the acquisition of the mother tongue, is a complex and specialized ability, which develops itself spontaneously in the child, without conscious effort or formal instruction, and it is quantitatively equal in all the individuals.” – Marta Baralo

Regarding to the topic of the listening, which was commented in my last post, I would like to add one note, and it is that in the most successful countries in learning foreign languages, like Holland, Belgium, Nordic countries, etc. children have access to TV programs in original version.  This shows us the importance of listening.

But let’s go on. We arrived to the point when children get to understand the world and the language that is around then. At this moment, they are ready to start emitting words and they do it in a natural way, without fear or pressure. Certainly, the absence of fear is a very important factor in favor of the process.

  • Speaking happens in a natural way when a language is understood y is a process that cannot be forced.

Therefore, do not feel bad if you have some problems to speak at the beginning. It is a long process that takes a lot of time. When you start feeling comfortable with the language, you will be ready to start speaking, and when you understand it very well and feel it as a part of you, you will express yourself fluently. Little children also start babbling some words and they perfect themselves little by little with time. The use of the language and the pronunciation improve when the years pass. The same happens to adults, because it is the same process.  We start emitting some words and rise level gradually, y there is no anything else, we can skip stages, it takes years, that is all. So that, as well as children errors are corrected with benevolence and understood, adults should receive the same treatment. Meanwhile, keep on listening, the results arrive for those who don’t give up.

  • Pressure is an enemy of the process of learning languages. The process takes a time and it has to be respected.

Today there are a lot of resources and applications that encourage speaking from the beginning. Whereas there is no pressure, this is not a bad thing, but languages are not learnt speaking, they are spoken when they are learnt. I don’t think that this is the best practice for beginners, unless they do it with the right tutor that can instruct them in vocabulary, because maybe the pressure is too big and this can cause frustration. Each thing has its time and comprehension is the first step. For levels from intermediate, however, it an appropriate practice because it can give you confidence, experience and you can always listen the native language, which is always positive. But remember always that to keep on learning you have to go on listening, among other things that we are going to see now.

Although it is true that children get to speak effectively, they do it somehow on a basic level. At this point, children are sent to the school where they learn to use one of the best existing tools to perfect and use correctly the language. Learning cannot be only based on listening, because then you would keep on speaking like a child. Do you want to know the tools that can help you to speak efficiently?


Also see: Secrets of Learning a Language ISecrets of Learning a Language III



Secrets of Learning a Language I


Traditionally, courses to learn languages were focused in the study of the grammar, rules and a series of practices, which are based generally in the repetition of exercises to learn those rules. I think it is still being done that way in the schools today, although I am not sure at all. Maybe someone can comment something about this.

But, does it really work?

I think that it is enough to check the results to realize that… not much. In fact, since forever people who really want to learn a language tend to move to the countries where the desired language is spoken, which has a lot of sense.

But let’s go to the beginning, how is a language really learned?

To know the real process, we only have to take a look to those old times where every one of us learned a language with great success: the childhood. All the children of the world learn to communicate effectively in their mother language. This is already a positive data: the ability in inside all of us.

How do they do it? They simply discover it. Children have an open relationship with their environment; they play, explore and get to know it. They look at the people. In this process, they learn how to identify objects or people; they recognize them and start associating words to them, until they finally understand the meaning. That is, in the moment that they make associations they start understanding, and after understanding comes the execution.

  • That is why it is that important the use of images in the learning languages process. The mind is prepared to associate.

Little by little, they understand every time more words and after that, more and more complex constructions. Because the important thing is the idea, the language is a mere vehicle to express it. Therefore:

  • To understand a language is the first step to speak it.

That means that the first part of the learning is the comprehension. So, from the beginning, it is too important to be in contact with the native language. To start, it would be probably interesting to focus in the vocabulary and in the listening. Without any doubt, it is fundamental to listen to it. Today there are loads of resources to get it, such as podcasts, videos, programs, series, movies, etc. There are suitable materials for all the levels and adapted to all the tastes, and the best thing is that you can choose them according to your personal tastes. Do not forget it:

  • Listening to a language is the most effective method to learn it. Use always materials suitable for your level and if it is possible, about topics that amuse you.


Also see: Secrets of Learning a Language IISecrets of Learning a Language III