Learning A Language

Are you trying to learn a new language? This can be hard to do. Many people struggle with finding the best method to learn a new language. There seem to be so many options.Do you enroll in a class or use an mobile app? Do you try to converse in a language or travel to an area where they speak that language so you can learn from experience? It can be difficult to choose a method which is best for you. Today, I would like to compare the two methods of learning and offer some advice.

Classroom Learning
Classroom learning is a common way to learn a language. For instance, many of us have taken languages as subjects in school. This was where we learned vocabulary and grammar by writing and repeating phrases. We learned basics of a language. However it focused on classroom theory, and conversing can be hard to do. So, how effective is this learning method?

We all know you cannot just start conversing in a language. You must have the fundamental rules of vocabulary and grammar to start conversing in a language. However, this is not the recommended method to use when you are trying to become as fluent as a native speaker. A study conducted by Professor Ullman from Georgetown University conducted how effective classroom learning was. The study discovered that classroom learning does not allow people to have the same brain waves and ways of thinking as a native speaker.

On the other hand, Professor Ullman also says that classroom learning should not be thrown out. People still need the foundation of a language and a good vocabulary to start conversing in a language. It’s a particularly conducive spaces for adults or older children. Compared to being at home, one can no longer learn the lanuage as a child would with parents teaching new words day-to-day.

Experiential Learning
This is a highly recommended method of learning a language. The experiential learning method is what we do as infants when we are trying to learn how to speak. From birth, we are surround by people speaking our native language. This means we are constantly hearing the language to learn vocabulary and grammar used by those around us.

This has been proven to be an effective way of learning a language at any age. In the previously mentioned study by Professor Ullman, it was discovered that experiential learning gave people the same brain waves as native speakers. This shows that experiential learning gets people closer to the skills of a native speaker than other methods of learning. This mainly has to do with being around the language, hearing it and conversing using the language.

The conversing aspect of experiential learning is what I would like to draw attention to, as this is the main idea which sets experiential learning apart. As said by Tim Ferris in his article on language, “conversation can be learned not taught”. This comment is very important to consider when learning a language, since conversing is the point of learning a language. We cannot learn to converse without actually conversing. This skill requires a ‘trial and error’ learning method. Conversing is also the best way to start experiencing the language in a similar way as a native speaker would. These ideas are also confirmed by other professionals and sources, such as the Guardian.

There are various methods of learning a language. Some debates between classroom and experiential learning. The consensus found from different sources, such as Professor Ullman and the Guardian, say using a combination of classroom and experiential learning is best when it comes to learning a new language. This gives people the foundation of vocabulary and grammar to start using a language. These skills are important when trying to participate in the conversing aspects of experiential learning, which allows people to become more like a native speaker. So learn some vocabulary and language, then start conversing and do not be afraid to make mistakes. Everyone has to start somewhere and learning is a process. Find ways you can courageously start conversing!

Practise your foreign language in a foreign country! Explore on opportunities.aiesec.org