My language learning credo.

Language learning is a personal activity. I do it for myself. I learn the language for my own reasons and in my own ways. I focus my efforts on those aspects of the language that interest me the most.

Confidence, strong motivation and a positive attitude towards the language I am learning are preconditions for success. To make meaningful progress in the language I need to spend enough time with the language, listening to it, reading, it, using it. I try to be attentive, observing and noticing the language, how it sounds and how it functions.

I spend most of my time on input, listening and reading. This gives me the words I need, and a feeling for the language. This will ensure that my output  acivities will progres quickly, when I get the chance to use the language. Input activities are easy and inexpensive to arrange.

Some people focus on grammar. I find that the core grammar I need to learn is actually a relatively small number of rules and patterns that repeat over and over in the language. At first, however, it seems overwhelming. With enough input, and regular review, however, it all becomes clearer and clearer. 

Some people aspire to sound like a native. I try to notice how the native speaker pronounces. When I speak, I imitate this pronunciation as much as I can. I know I will not sound like a native. This does not matter to me. I think it is more important to have a good command of the words and phrases of the language, so that I can express myself accurately on a variety of subjects. That is why the input activity is so important.

In the end, we need to decide what we want from our language learning, and pursure it for our own reasons. I think we are all capable of doing this, and enjoying it.

8 thoughts on “My language learning credo.

  1. Steve:Do your recommendations of how to learn a language change if you are in a situation where you are living in the foreign country?I have recently moved to Belgium and am trying to learn Dutch.I am unsure of what is the most efficient method for me to get up to speed (literally and figuratively). I am floundering, and would like to make some good, steady progress in communicating. What would you recommend to a person in my situation?Thanks in advance.

  2. I love your language videos. I’m finding them incredibly inspiring. Can you please do one on language maintenance? How do you keep from loosing a language once you start to work on another one?

  3. honingbij,You are in the same situation as I was in Japan. Of course you will want to use the language wherever and whenever you can. The language surrounds you. It is real. Enjoy and don’t worry about when you stumble. However, in order to improve your ability to defend yourself in Dutch you still need a lot of input. When I was in Japan, I preferred reading and audio cassettes. The TV was a little too difficult in the beginning, other than baseball games. You just attack the language on all possible fronts, with the form conviction that with more and more exposure, you are bound to improve. But focus on input, and use your output opportunities to identify what you are lacking, where your gaps are.You will also need to get yourself some standard phrases, for different situations, including asking for things, introducing your thoughts, and playing for time. Good luck. You are in an ideal situation.Steve

  4. Katelyn,I will try to do one, but I must say I just read and listen to keep the languages up to snuff, and use them when I can.

  5. thank you for your advice .. i look for more information about how to learn English forward .. and your recommending for improve learning English

  6. I agree, getting the mental stuff straightened out (motivation, more than anything else) first is actually more important than what a lot of people tend to focus on, e.g. the method used, how many words do I need to know, precise grammar rules, etc.Give yourself a good enough reason to do <i>anything</i> and the how will take care of itself–you’ll figure it out.Cheers,Andrew

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