Do it because it’s fun

The title of this post is a song writing tips from Kate Rowe’s website – she’s an Australian singer/song writer who support the Spooky Men’s Chorale on their recent UK tour. I saw them in Caernarfon and found the website after that, saw the tips and thought that could apply, with some adaptations to language learning.

Here they are:

• Do it because it’s fun, not because you want to achieve something.
• Write a lot, often, to get used to your own voice and trains of thought.
• Rather than “coming up with” ideas, relax and let images start appearing in your mind.
• Let your mind tell you a story, and write or record exactly what you see and hear.
• Write fast, without editing. Get all the ideas down, even if they seem ridiculous.
• Later, take the most interesting bits. It might only be a sentence! Just keep writing.

Even without changes, these apply to writing in a language you’re learning.

I think it’s better to learn a language because it’s fun, it’s something you enjoy doing, and it’s a language/culture you really like, rather than because you feel you should, or you think the language might be useful one day. I sometimes learn languages to try out different language courses, and unless I fall in love with the languages or the cultures of people who speak them, or the countries where they’re spoken, I find my motivation for them tends to diminish and disappear after a while.

It helps to practise all language skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing, and indeed typing, as often as you can.

The third tip isn’t perhaps directly relevant to language learning, but when you’re reading or listening the your L2, it can help to relax and let it flow into your eyes and ears without worrying about things you don’t understand. The meanings of unknown words that come up frequently is likely to become clear from the context.

Stories are useful for language learning – reading and listening to them, and making them up yourself just for fun, and/or to practise using particular grammatical structures and vocabulary.

When writing in a foreign language it might help to write fast, not worry about mistakes, and to edit later.

2 thoughts on “Do it because it’s fun

  1. Those are wonderful tips! When you start writing in a foreign language, you start assimilating it much more deeply. I would stress that it’s really important to get the connection between sound and spelling. For that, dictation would be invaluable. I found a really good write up by Dave MacLeod, (for intermediate learners) who suggests using the cross-platform audio application Audacity for dictation. [“The Most Effective Method for Learning a Language alone”

    A note from my own experience: I learned Italian for 3 months by using only audio. When I went to Italy (to live there for 5 months), my writing in Italian was all spelled in the French way (which is a language I can speak and write). I had to sit down and learn writing in Italian right from the beginning, and I did it mostly by copying texts and sounding them out.

  2. Really interesting comparison between a creative writing and language learning. Certainly the right mental state and exercises are important in both activities

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