There are so many ways to learn a language. They are not all equal.
I learned German as a child for 6 years. I have a German family, and we would travel to Germany to see them. There was a real need. I was young. I was motivated to learn. But I don't think I learned very effectively.
I would say I reached pre-intermediate level only.
How did the teacher structure the classes? In the old fashioned way:
- She would teach us the tenses. How to conjugate the verbs, where they went in the sentence. And then we would practise.
- We would learn vocabulary by repetition and quizzes.
- And we would try and put it together to make a wide range of sentences.
Now I am trying to learn Malay. I live in Malaysia, my husband is Malay (my 4-year-old daughter can even speak Malay quite well). I can hear it all the time.
So this time I have bought some books and I am trying to learn the way a child learns - but copying, immersion and trying to "work it out".
That isn't working very well for me either, unfortunately. 🙄
So, am I just bad at learning languages? Or is there a better way?
There are better ways.
Language is a tool we use. No one gets a car license by learning how to accelerate and brake independently of each other. You need to learn to control the car under all conditions. This means learning to brake and accelerate, steer, learning the road rules.
But no one gets let-loose on the road for the first time with no training!
We are taught little by little and guided by a driving instructor (or mum or dad 😬).
So I have thought long and hard about the best ways to learn a language. And my programs use a combination of two methods.
- Guided Discovery Method
This is a technique or approach where a I will provide examples of a language item and help you to find out the rules yourself.
We explore it together. I guide you, but you do the discovery.
This will help you really explore the tools - tenses, modal verbs, conditionals.... you don't even need to know the names. You will just learn what they do.
- Task-Based Approach.
This method allows me to focus on the use of authentic language while you complete meaningful tasks in the target language. So this is the real-life use of the language.
Watch the video below while I explain in a little more detail.
As always, if you want any more information about anything I have touched on here, reach out to me.