In language learning, a little practice goes a long way

A recent study seems to show that a lot of exposure and a little practice can be as effective as a lot of practice in learning languages and music. This was reported on the Street-Smart Language Learning blog.

These kinds of studies are always subject to interpretation.What I take from this is that a lot of the deliberate learning “work” that language learners do, like grammar exercizes, or even flash card review, should not be overdone. A small amount of these activities, or even better, natural output activities like speaking and writing, when accompanied by lots of listening and reading (exposure), can go a long way.

It should be noted, furthermore, that listening to or reading meaningful content involves a more focused and interactive process than just listening to something in the background as the subjects of this study did.I tend to use my speaking and writing , or flash card review, as an opportunity to discover gaps, and to make me attentive to certain types of phrases or words, that I then notice more when I listen and read. But a little speaking and writing and word review seems to go a long way. Maybe this study explains why.


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