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To learn a language - immerse yourself

by: Garry Pierrepont (8 July 2014)

I met a Colombian Gus last night in a wine bar. A friend of a friend, he was telling me apart from how annoyed he was that Colombia had been beaten by Brazil's rough-house tactics in the World Cup last week how he had been in England for seven years and had found the language hard to learn at first. He decided to attend an English language course, but found it horrendously expensive.

Drawing on the experiences of his girlfriend, he decided the best way to learn was to get among English people and talk and write the language.

His girlfriend has a Scottish father and an English mother, but she was brought up in Spain. Thus, at home, she was speaking English, but at school and with her friends, she was speaking Spanish. She grew up to be bilingual and people of either nationality think she is 'one of theirs'.

Gus speaks very good English albeit with a Spanish (Colombian) accent but admits that he stills struggles with colloquialisms and accents from around the country. (Well, don't we all, Gus!) He says he used to translate everything into Spanish in his head, but realised that wasn't the best way. He now speaks and thinks in English.

It's not the only way, but it must be the best way to learn a language to immerse yourself in the country, the people, their writing and their language.

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Views: 1208

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Comments...

Ref: 86 Good points Sheila, thank you. Gus was indeed referring to the spoken language in the main.
Garry - 09:24 09-07-2014
Ref: 85 Very good points. We can't completely acquire natural language as can children for example learning their mother tongue - they have an inbuilt facility for learning spoken grammar. As we get older some formal learning of the rules has its place too. Plus we are able to do so.
Marilyn - 12:20 08-07-2014
Ref: 84 I would recommend both; i.e. learn the grammar rules with a teacher AND immerse yourself in 'language in use'. Remember that there are 4 distinct skills involved in language learning. Your friend seems to be referring in the main to listening and speaking. A good teacher will use dedicated teaching materials to suit his or her specific students' linguistic and social needs.
Sheila.Faber - 12:02 08-07-2014
Ref: 83 I agree - it is the very best way to learn a language - otherwise you end up with unnatural and stilted results. Well done to your friend.
Marilyn - 11:27 08-07-2014

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