CHARLOTTE – My notes for getting out of your language learning rut

My notes for getting out of your language learning rutA Chinese proverb says, “To learn a language is to have one more window from which to look at the world.” Every one of us who has studied another language has struggled with feelings of hopelessness and frustration.

Please post your secret if you have studied another foreign language and never experienced any of the following feelings:· I know it, I understand the grammar but can’t speak it.· When people speak to me I don’t understand.

· I’m competent, so my struggle is to get to the next level. Friends don’t correct me because I can communicate what I want to say, but it is not perfect.

During the summer, students around the world take intensive classes to get ahead in their language abilities and their heads are swimming after the course is finished. Then there are those of you who, after living in Turkey for a while (or any place abroad), usually want to learn some Turkish or the local language in order to get around and communicate more with those who do not speak your mother tongue.

Some of you reading this may be deeply motivated to learn Turkish because of the Turk you love. It isn’t “the mouse is under the table” that you want to say, but you desire to communicate things that are in your heart to them You have successfully passed the beginner’s stage, but you wonder if you will ever get to the stage where you can share your heart with themYou can probably identify with a few of the obstacles faced by intermediate language learners when studying a foreign language:· time pressure· comprehension· motivation· lack of resources· got the gist of it — being able to get by· speed of grammar use· hitting a plateau· fatigue· having holes (areas where your language is weak)· not knowing what to do in lessons· not knowing what you don’t knowI’d like to share a few notes I received from a language consultant friend who shared these general observations on intermediate language learning:#1: Language learning is harder at the intermediate stage than at the beginning stage.

· Language learning is more like a marathon than a sprint.· Motivation drops because we are tired.

· Motivation drops because we can get by.· We have less guidance at this stage.

· What you’re learning becomes more complicated.· What you’re learning is lower frequency.

#2: It gets slower and harder· The learning curve is not a straight line it follows the law of diminishing returns.· It takes more work to make progress.

· You feel like you’re at a plateau when actually your learning has just slowed down.#3: Fruitful lessons require more planning.

· You have to plan your lessons and your learning.· You have to be intentional and plan things to get the most out of your language learning.

#4: Goals are essential.· You must set goals for yourself.

· “I want to speak better Turkish” is not a goal — that’s an overall aim· Pick a goal that is relevant to you, something that you care about and you will use.· Some examples of concrete goals:– Be able to describe everything in my refrigerator,– Getting my visa myself without anyone Turkish helping me,– Listen to X number of hours of the news and try to understand it better,– Add 200 new words to my vocabulary in two months,– Learn and tell four stories or parables,– Give a two-minute introduction about yourself to five people,– Collect and understand five life histories,– Record the family tree of my neighbor,– Collect cultural information on the subjects of circumcision, weddings, birth, etc.

,– Be able to use a particular aspect of grammar (narrow and specific),– Be able to share a recipe or give a brief business proposal.· The need for accountability with goals.

— Find a language learning buddy and tell them your goals.– Meet with them to talk about it.

· If you feel like language learning has become a real battle, share how it is with others who can encourage you.· Stop and evaluate:– Did you reach the goal?– If not, why not?#5: Use it or lose it.

— If you only speak your language in language lessons, you won’t be able to speak it.– You must practice and use it.

— You must have a language community that you use the language with.Don’t let anyone kid you — language learning is hard.

As the Turks say, “Iyi alIImalar!.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman