You ask almost anyone and they'll tell you they'd give a lot to speak a foreign language. But obviously not the determination and time to actually learn the language. Or does he just not know the right way to learn, and if he discovered that way, he would save himself and could turn off the headlines at Stranger Things?
Perhaps everyone who wants to learn a new language has wondered what teaching method, aid or course they should use. I speak fluent English and German, and for the past year I have been learning French, gathering my knowledge of this slow but hopeful and interesting process. In this article, we first look at a group of people learning a language in a surprisingly consistent way: young children. Then we look at one principle that children do not use to learn language and another that they use to learn language.
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. — John 1,1 Bible21
But if language is so intertwined with our thinking, why is it so difficult to learn other languages after how easy it was to learn the first? Do new languages mean a different way of thinking? This might seem like some kind of proof of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, but I think it's difficult to even learn our first language. So let's look at how children learn their native language (I also recommend onthis issue). Children have no native, native language. However, it is fitting to assume that they have some predisposition to learn the language (unlike, say, chimpanzees), however, I do not find these predispositions as miraculous as they might seem at first glance, children are helped by many other factors. First, children are motivated to learn the language (if they didn't, they'd probably die), second, they mostly have a few native speaker-private teachers with them, third, they've been learning the language for years. These three pillars: motivation, time and good teachers can we envy the children, who would boast of such a thing?
But is this the whole truth? When we look at somewhat older school-age children, they also devote a lot of time to a foreign language, they are very often motivated internally or externally, and they should have much more educated teachers than their parents to teach at school. Still, a young child will learn the language more effectively than schoolchildren who grind away at German or, God forbid, Latin for eight years. Here, my view of the issue is somewhat subjective. However, the fact that children learn to communicate without hearing a single grammatical rule explicitly spelled out in their lives should be startling to say the least.
I think you don't learn a language from a grammar, but rather a grammar from a language. But how does one simply learn the language? Like tying shoelaces or holding a pencil correctly, I believe that the use of language happens because of our brains from a great deal of intuition. Tell me, do you remember learning the English word ice cream? Or the word redundant, cowboy? I may have just hit on the words your teacher was pounding into your head, or you don't even know what the word redundancy means. But the fact remains that, as in the mother tongue, in the foreign we know (from a certain degree of sophistication) more words than we have consciously learned, and the learning process does not take place in a controlled way.
For the Lord God made all the field animals and all the birds of heaven from the earth, and brought them to Adam to see him name them. However Adam called which animal, that was his name. So Adam named all the cattle, the sky birds, and all the field animals. But there was no equal footing for Adam. — Genesis 2,19-20 Bible21
The longer I ponder the question of whether it is possible to define proper Czech language and how to determine what is a valid grammatical rule, the more hopeless I am. All the same, the Institute of the Language of the Czech Republic settled into the role of Adam to carve all the language concepts in stone and to consolidate all the grammatical rules forever. He did not invite Eva, or the language speaker, of course. Did he help Eve, or is his behavior selfish and restrictive?
All of these ideas would make for a separate article (or stacks of books). In my opinion, there is a bit of a disconnect between this grammar and Czech education, as we do not really need to address these issues in our daily lives. So what role do grammar and education play in learning the language? It may seem counter-intuitive, but I would say that a scant, language we can learn without them (even small children didn't need them).
I have another argument for why we should abandon thinking about grammar and traditional teaching methods. For all these methods are based on rational thought. However, this thinking is slow and challenging as opposed to, for example, the kind of thinking we use when tying our shoelaces or just talking. So I think grammar can be a good tool, but it is far from necessary. I'd compare it to steroids and growth hormones: a little might be good, but once you get past that, people are already looking back at you on the street.
The Word became flesh and came to live among us. We saw his glory, the glory he has from the Father the one-born Son, full of grace and truth. — John 1,14 Bible21
Having lost our grammar, what can we lean on now? Good news, grammar is not the only way of looking at language. There are a lot of these ways, of course, and I'll start by asking why we actually speak or want to be able to speak a foreign language? Language has some functions, no doubt (the well-known linguist Roman Jakobson wrote more about language functions: ), and the main one among them will probably be communication. We're talking to reason. So we speak successfully (correctly) if the other understands us and we have given the desired message.
There was also motivation among the three pillars of learning for young children. For me, motivation is the most important step in learning a language. He who is strongly motivated will persist in his efforts, will have a positive relationship with learning, will find language intertwined with other things, and thus easier to learn. I think that the first step that everyone should take when learning a language is to look within themselves and say whether they really want to learn the language and why: foreign residency, reading inaccessible books, watching videos, fascination with foreign culture can all be successfully motivated.
Another reason why strong motivation forms the basis of language learning is the possibility of evaluation. In the last chapter, I tried to deconstruct the merits of grammar as a construct that would be important to the common man. But grammar also provided a way in which one could easily compare accomplishments. With the grammar gone, I find it important to use my own motivation as a way of self-evaluation. You want to talk to people in English? So what if you used conditional incorrectly if you made friends from a foreign country? Would you like to read Faust? Then again, you don't need to know the slang of German teens, but a Plusquamperfektum would be nice.
God has spoken all these words: Honor your father and mother, long may you live on the earth that the Lord, your God, gives you. Don't. Non-adulterer. Don't steal. Don't lie about your fellow man. — Exodus 20;1,12-16 Bible21
The human language has untold power. It is the word (name) that uniquely identifies each individual, assigning him or her a place in the world. With word, you can make treaties, exorcise the devil, we can have someone's word as a promise. Promises like the Scout pledge, the presidential pledge, or the marriage pledge define the way we should behave, adding artificial, human rules to an otherwise chaotic world. In words, we adapt the world, rationalize it, create values. Words also have literal value — for example, a password from a bank account. The most prestigious occupations of people in our society are based on words, words even form the bulk of philosophy. Words form an essential part of our culture, signing on to rhymes in nursery rhymes as well as to music and other art.
Personally, I'm fascinated by how language can be complicated and how it affects (or rather is intertwined with) our culture and our lives. I believe languages are worth tackling simply because of their aesthetic value, but I think there are many other powerful motivations for learning a language, such as those inspired by the previous paragraph. In this article, I tried to explain some of my positions on the issue of foreign language learning, focusing primarily on motivation and self-reflection in learning. The most important thing in learning is to think about the learning itself and the constant self-reflection of self-reflection: exploring your motivations and thinking about the ways in which learning can improve. I don't think there are any guidelines for learning a foreign language as quickly as possible, so you have to think for yourself what works best for you.
In the article, however, I focused only on the value bases in terms of learning the language and then on motivation. But there are other important aspects, like the teachers to choose, the environment in which to move, etc. It is possible that I will cover this in future articles, the topic is definitely not exhausted! If you want to explore the topic more, check the links in the articles (if you can't find the articles, a Russian site called Library Genesis can help), or look up the password second language acquisition (SLA).