17 September 2013

Can introverts learn languages?

One often hears that extroverts make better language learners then introverts. I don’t believe this is the case. Success in language learning depends on the interest and determination of the learner, the time spent with the language, and the ability to notice what’s happening in the language. These factors are not influenced by whether the learner is an introvert or an extrovert. At least that is what I think. I would be interested in your views.

15 September 2013

When grammar instruction does not help

Despite a focus on French verb instruction in the school system, after ten years in school, most English Canadians speak French using the infinitive for all verbs, if they speak French at all.

15 September 2013

Listening comprehension, the core language skill

Far too much emphasis is placed on speaking in language instruction. If the emphasis were placed on listening comprehension, people would end up speaking better.

14 September 2013

Are we learning languages the wrong way?

learning languages

We are learning languages the wrong way says this article from the New Statesman. I don’t agree with everything in the article, but there are some important points.

I have always felt that the emphasis on teaching a few basic survival sentences, or correct usage, is largely a waste of time. I believe we need to emphasize the enjoyment of the language, and increased comprehension. The present emphasis in language class on producing the language, and on correct grammar, is usually counterproductive. Students graduate with little ability to understand the language, and still can’t produce many grammatically correct sentences.

What do you think? Are we learning languages the wrong way?

10 September 2013

Fluent Mandarin in 6 months?

I was asked to describe how to achieve fluency in Mandarin in six months.

5 September 2013

Why do we learn languages?

I derived immense enjoyment from listening to audiobooks and podcast, reading books, watching movies and participating in the cultures of the languages that I learn. Undoubtedly the amount of time that I enjoy my languages in this way is far greater than the amount of time that I am able to use the languages in talking to people. The goal is to talk to people, but most of the enjoyment comes from these seemingly passive activities. Of course, learning the languages through these somewhat passive activities, eventually enables me to speak comfortably.

5 September 2013

All learning is self-learning


We are conditioned by schools to think that our learning has to be directed by a teacher in the classroom. However, learning is inevitably a process of self improvement and personal growth. What matters most is what we as learners  do, whether in the classroom, or outside the classroom. A teacher cannot force learning on a student.  The teacher, or the classroom, are not the only resources available to us. The Internet is an amazing resource, as I have said many times. We can find language content, grammar references, and even articles about learning.

While surfing the web for articles on self-learning, I came across something I wrote three years ago, Six Steps to Effective Self Learning . My views have not changed.

On another occasion, while googling in order to understand the difference between the words “imparare”  and “apprendere” in Italian, I came across this interesting article called “Imparare a imparare” (Learning to learn).  The writer, Luciano Mariani, discusses the importance of setting one’s own goals and organizing one’s own learning activities, in order to become a learner for life.

Mariani’s blog,  www.learningpaths.org , in English and Italian, is devoted to issues related to motivation and learning, with specific reference to language learning.

3 September 2013

About learning German, some details about the language

Some people wanted more details about the language itself. Motivation is key and the rest will follow, but here are some observations about German.

31 August 2013

About learning German and other subjects

If you aren’t motivated to learn German, it is not difficult to get motivated. Anyone with motivation, can become a good language learner.

29 August 2013

Mein Weg zum Deutsch lernen

Wir lernen Sprachen am besten wenn es macht Spaß. Es muss interessant sein. Für mich war es immer so.