Friday, November 20, 2009
Part 2 - What does it Really Take to Learn a Foreign Language?
Use Additional Foreign Language Learning Resources
Yes, most certainmly you can still use additional resources to fine-tune a linguistic point, clear up a bit of confusion, add on an expression or two and push your vocabulary a bit higher if you’d like. I recommend supplementing your immersion experiences with a bilingual dictionary, a phrase book, a foreign language only dictionary, a CD, DVD or audio-cassette-based foreign language course of the tongue or dialect you’re actively immersed in and working on. For that matter, you can even contract a tutor in your foreign language to help get and keep you on track. Use any or all the added language learning resources you like. Just bear in mind, language learning methods number one, two and three are:
Get out there, do things, immerse yourself in the language and talk, talk, talk.
“But I’ll sound like an idiot.”
Well maybe a bit at first, but even when you botch something – and you probably will at times – the little old ladies, the vendor or the mechanic, among throngs of other native speakers of the foreign language you’ll engage, will answer your question, give you the information you want, and then likely correct your speech (after a chuckle or two, naturally). This is opposed to your sounding like an idiot while “practicing” with a classmate, who doesn’t know either, and their answering back – sounding like an idiot too. Neither of you knowing what you’re doing “wrong”. It happens so often it’s almost passe. Get off the foreign language learning merry-go-round and go for total immersion as soon as you can.
Foreign Language Learning Errors are Not Fatal
Hey, wanna hear a good one? Once, years ago on a brutally hot afternoon, I confused “Tengo calor” (I’m hot - from the weather) with “Estoy caliente” (I’m horny) while talking with a female co-worker. While this could also possibly mean I'm hot from a fever or illness, the look on her face was priceless. It also immediately told me I’d committed a serious faux pas. She immediately corrected me and explained the difference in the two sentences (which both can be translated to mean I’m hot, but are culturally different)– before a good laugh by both of us. Quite possibly, in a foreign language class, this “mistake” could have gone unnoticed and uncorrected. Foreign language learning errors are not fatal, at least the overwhelmingly vast majority of the time they’re not. By far and large they’re more humorous and occassionally a bit embarrassing, but you’ll live, to screw up yet another day.
Again, “The more you immerse yourself in it, the faster and more easily you will become fluent in any foreign language.” That’s my down-to-earth, hard and fast rule. Anything else you might say, do or be is just added icing on the cake.
Now suck up your courage, start packing your bags and get ready to make some dramatic foreign language learning progress.
Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 135 countries. Get your FREE E-book, “If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" by requesting the title at: firstname.lastname@example.org Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.