How to learn a foreign language?

Perhaps you think that there are many ways and you're right. However, if after a year, you failed to learn the language enough to be able to enrich it further by yourself , it means that the learning method was wrong.

Perhaps you think that there are many ways and you're right. However, if after a year, you failed to learn the language enough to be able to enrich it further by yourself , it means that the learning method was wrong.

Possibly you arrived at that conclusion and decided to try another method. But which one should you try? Let me tell you something, in fact there is only one good method, let's call it the natural way of learning language.

Let me explain this:

Imagine a child who neither knows language nor anything about the world. His only teachers are parents. The child, however, quickly learns both, the world and the language.

You can probably say that you are no longer a child, and therefore it is more difficult for you to learn so easily. Nothing could be more wrong! Actually, you are in a much better position because you do not have to learn the world. Just take advantage of that knowledge, while learning a new language by following the same rules as a child does.

Think about it, we learn the language through dialogues. When we were kids, our parents were talking to us all the time. Our dialogues with them were always related some specific situations, feelings, emotions and other stimuli from the environment.

Language is an abstractive tool and requires mental projections. Objects, situations and actions must be associated with words, expressions and structures of the language. Understanding the language means that we are able to link its content with the corresponding situations that we can imagine.

These associations should incorporate all our feelings and emotions. All our senses are normally involved in the process of learning. Therefore, the dialogue, which is the first natural language learning tool must be accompanied by other incentives as much as possible, especially visualisation. What you hear and see must be associated with feelings while your memory creates a structure ready to be used in similar situations in the future.

Unfortunately, just listening, feeling and understanding is not enough to be able to use the language in speech. To produce proper speech you must exercise by copying and repeating the sound you heard as many times as necessary. Your vocal cords, your tongue, mouth and all muscles involved in the creation of speech must be trained to create new mechanisms that, once remembered by your brain, will allow you to speak the new language automatically, correctly and quickly.

We also need emotions. - To understand language expressions we have to live situations and feel associated emotions. We must to be able to recall those feelings. If you are learning a language not so different from your culture then you will easily assimilate emotional charge within intonation and imagery. The more we engage our senses, such as touch, smell, taste, feeling, hot and cold, the better we remember and learn.

Only minimum conscious effort is required to learn a foreign language. Try to catch the sense and repeat what you hear. Feed your brain with all possible stimuli. Feel comfortable and happy. If you do not enjoy it, something is wrong, probably something is missing or you are engaging your mind too much in unnecessary analysis or translating. Do not do that!!!

In summary, be aware that learning a language is a cognitive process producing relationships between our experience, and the the language. Let your unconsciousness do this job the same way it did when you were a child.

Now you understand why learning a new language is sometimes ineffective. Change your environment, spend time among people who speak it and can guide you. Ask, listen, repeat and progress. Be like a smart child. Here are some tips for you:

  1. Start learning from spoken dialogues supported by visualization. Dialogues must be related to specific situations which you can observe, understand and memorize, all together with the sound, pictures and related emotions. These situations should be typical, as in everyday life.

    Can you do this alone? Help is always welcomed but be aware of "conventional experts" and focus rather on natural learning. Choose your experts carefully. Social and cultural background may also be very important, otherwise you may shock native speakers using coarse language, slang, insulting them or giving them an impression of superiority. Learn popular and formal expressions and use them wisely.

    Before you attempt to go to traditional school finish your kindergarden.

  2. In the first stage:

    - Do not read, do not write

    - Do not study grammar

    - Do not learn the words, imagine them

    Get meanings through feeling.

  3. In the first stage of learning you have to start to create your own expressions by modifying and adapting the ones you already know. Speak and practice them out loud.

  4. In the second stage of learning you can learn to read. Make sure you read what you already know how to pronounce. Take advantage of materials with text and audio.

    - First listen,

    - Then listen and track the text.

    - Then repeat parts of the text, out loud of course.

  5. The third stage is writing and it can be done by yourself by copying whatever text you understand. Do not guess spellings nor try to remember the sequence of letters, just copy words. You should also know that while writing by hand, you remember visually and physically, - but do not worry, if you use a PC keyboard effectively, you'll get a similar effect.

  6. In order to effectively control the first stage you should get help and talk with people who mastered the language, possibly native speakers. Ask them to explain to you linguistic tricks and peculiarities - how to combine tenses - how to report what happend - how to explain the situation from the point of somone else. Tell your helpers how you want to enrich your language.

    Remember to maintain a "parent-child relationship".

    Witold Wojcik