Less is more in foreign language learning

Which would be easier for you to memorize?

  1. The entire Singapore telephone book (yes, they still exist).
  2. A short nursery rhyme.

Scientific studies have shown that we learn best by absorbing small morsels of information, applying them in a practical manner, then building on what we know. As we add more chunks of information our minds correlate, collate, and link everything, referring back to previously learned facts to form a comprehensive sphere of knowledge.

What does this mean to you?

Don’t tackle a huge book of foreign language grammar or prose as an early learning project. Begin with smaller projects.
For example, you could start with a few paragraphs of a novel – memorizing the vocabulary – and proceeding to the next few paragraphs.

Why not choose the most widely published book in the world?

Even if you’re not a Christian, the Bible can be an invaluable tool for learning the foreign language of your choice. It is published in more languages than any other book, and there is a plethora of internet resources with complete texts available for FREE download.

Many foreign language Bible sites have FREE audio clips as well.

‘But the Bible is full of ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ and outdated language that nobody uses any longer.’

You’re right! The King James version would NOT be a good learning tool for anyone trying to learn English. However, there are many translations in modern English – and that is also the case with foreign languages.

Use your favourite search engine to do searches like ‘modern Bible translation French’, ‘modern Bible translation German’, or ‘modern Bible translation Spanish’. Do your research and find out what is available for the language you are learning.

Start with some of the smaller chapters and work up to the larger ones.

Make up a vocabulary list and memorize a few words at a time. If you need help with some difficult phrases, find an online foreign language forum and post a question. Most forums are full of helpful native speakers who will do their utmost to help you understand subtle nuances and connotations.

Download the audio clips, save them to your hard drive, and listen to them repeatedly – either on your computer’s sound system or a portable audio player. Repeat the words softly as you listen, paying meticulous attention to pronunciation. Progress slowly to speaking in a normal voice along with the narrator.

A good method is to start with the Psalms and Proverbs. Each chapter is a standalone piece of prose. Begin with the smallest and work through to the larger pieces.
Students need to remember to take baby steps first. We must walk before we run and although it can be frustrating, taking the time to build a solid linguistic foundation is important. That, and repetition – repetition – repetition. That’s the way babies learn. But even as adults, it’s still the best way for us to learn.

Agape School of Education (ASE) is special because they ensure classes are small to maximise teacher-student interaction. The teachers at ASE are a mix of native and non-native teachers who learn from each other to better help their students. ASE’s unique curriculum includes teaching students the culture behind the language so that they can better immerse themselves in the language and enhance their learning experience.

Posted in Learning.

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