How Not To Learn A Foreign Language

by David Slade

Many people spend thousands of dollars and waste all of their time trying to learn a foreign language only to fail miserably. Nothing seems to stick in their brain! Is there a better way to learn a foreign language? You bet there is!

Who of us just wouldn't love to learn a new language? In fact, every human being is driven to search for meaning. So, What idiot decreed that foreign-language shouldn't begin until high school?

Who of us wouldn't just love to learn a new language? In fact, every human being is driven to search for meaning. Passive observation is just not enough; it is the interactivity that is so essential. "Tell me, and I forget. Show me, and I remember. Let me do, and I understand," says the ancient Chinese proverb.

It's one thing to show your child a picture of the ocean, and say "ocean," and quite another thing to let her splash in an ocean and say, "The ocean is water."

Research in the area of memory indicates that a person only retains, long-term: 10% of what they read, but 90% of what they do and say! Findings suggest that "the brain develops on a 'use it or lose it' principle." So, the best time to master a skill associated with a system is just when a new system is coming on line in your brain. Language is the perfect example. It's very easy for a 2 year old to learn any new language. So, What idiot decreed that foreign-language shouldn't begin until high school?

For years, many teachers have found that their "Holy Grail" has been attention. But evidence suggests that the brain's ability to stay attentive for extended periods of time is not only rare but difficult. The brain needs downtime! If you don't give it to them they'll just tune out anyway. So, Why don't students remember what they were taught? This usually occurs because the information served no useful purpose in their lives and their brains dropped it. Or probably because they didn't learn in the first place! Where is the best place to learn? Of course, it's from your parents!

About the Author

David Slade, originally from Canada, currently resides in Taiwan. He is the author of Mandarin English XL, an online Mandarin Chinese course.

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