Date of publication: 2018-04-12 18:01
Everywhere you turn, language teachers are using different methods and giving conflicting advice. Some learn vocabulary by memorising word lists, others absorb it naturally by reading. Some concentrate on the sounds first, others prefer to improve their pronunciation as they go along. Some swear by grammar drills, others never open a textbook.
The most important debate as far as science is concerned is about whether we should make a concerted effort to memorise words, for example using flashcards, or whether we should pick them up naturally through reading and listening.
Breaking down the task is essential in something like language learning, where the outcome feels big and scary. Instead of trying to “speak German”, aim for something smaller and more concrete, like an hour of German a day, or however much time you can afford. By breaking it down this way, you’re much more likely to do it. And if you keep it up day by day, you’ll be speaking a language before you know it.
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That sounds great, but where do I learn about all these mouth positions, I hear you ask. Well, luckily a smart guy called Idahosa Ness is already teaching people about the mouth positions in lots of different languages, with his Mimic Method courses, available for English , Spanish , French , German , Italian , Japanese , Mandarin and Portuguese.
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Over the last few years the internet has exploded with online language learning communities which are helping people connect support each other in all kinds of awesome ways. One example is the Fluent in 8 Months community. Another is the Add6challenge.
In fact, your best learning comes from something called comprehensible input. Comprehensible input occurs when the student receives information just barely beyond their level of proficiency, and the system works best when the teacher quickly adapts to the student's needs.
And what if experiments that find no positive effect of teaching grammar simply aren’t being published? “Hey, we did an experiment and nothing happened” isn’t exactly a bit hit with academic journals.
Spaced repetition and mnemonics can boost your word power quickly and make your brain feel like an awesome vocabulary learning machine. But they’re not the be all and end all of word learning strategies. In fact, overuse of these techniques can actually harm your vocabulary, and here’s why.
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