Thursday, June 4, 2009

About learning : Introduction

En français

Lots of people seems to be a bit confused about my way of learning things. Especially languages but the more I think about it the more I think it works the same for anything.
I was looking on the internet for advice and tricks at learning languages fast.
That's a good thing because that brings me to "All Japanese All The Time" which is a great source of comfort and inspiration for me.
But now I suddenly realized that I do speak 3 foreign languages more or less fine already.
So I decided to think more deeply about it and to write this "About learning" set of posts to share the way that makes me know those languages step by step.
Some of those step won't really be steps, maybe just thoughts about things around the learning process or about what you may have to face when learning and questions you may asked to yourself.
I'm not really clear about it yet, I have just few things programed so far and we'll see what'll happened.

The first thing I want to talk about, as a kind of introduction is the way I learned the 3 languages I already know so that you can get a feeling for what will follow.
I completely agree that language classes aren't good enough. But it's most likely because we are expected them to teach us everything which is a great misconception.
How could a finite amount of time and a finite list of vocabulary and grammar point could ever get us to know all the infinite nuances expressed in a language anyway ? you get what I mean.
Still I can say that I learned English, German and Italian in classes... kind of.
Classes have the good point of getting you started and giving you bases.

My learning of English started at school. The difference that makes me speak it now when the other kids don't is that as soon as I get to now the basic I started to borrow books in English at the library and to read them.
Of course I didn't get everything at first but I liked to pretend I did and continue on reading.
Plus my parents had a very old fashion set of English taps that I use to have on all the time in my room, thinking about it those tapes are so childish and unnatural English.
I also sang "Spice girls" song and Britney Spears until I new the lyrics by heart I can probably still sing some of them now.

German was a bit more difficult due to the lack of listening material. I forgot to mansion that I didn't have internet at that time.
My learning of German was for the first part in school with additional reading from library books (that was more difficult than for English) and tapes from the class text book.
The second part was two month of being au-pair in Berlin, that was so cool.
I took classes in the morning and watch so many cartoons in the afternoon. Kids are also really great teachers.
I think I read there the first German book I understood fully. It was Harry Potter 1. The kids gave it to me with the tapes, I spend few days in my room listening and reading the first chapter again and again, the other were then easier to understand.

Italian is the language I know the least, I had 7 years English at school and 5 years German but only 3 years Italian. That probably have a huge impact on it as I had less exposure to it.
My learning when through classes, listening a lots of Eros Ramazzotti (those song I still know them by heart for sure), reading library books and getting up at 5.30 am to watch the Victor Hebner classes on TV. Me who has so many problems to get up right now, I did it, for the sake of learning.

I think the main reason why I didn't think about the way I learned those languages, only saying that I learned them at school, without taking into account all the "extra work" I did, was because all that "extra work" wasn't feeling like work at all. It was actually just pure fun !!!

Now that you know everything here is the list of steps :
(That will be updated and transformed to link when the posts will be published)

Step 1 : Get addicted
Step 2 : Get the attitude !!!
Step 3 : Build up the environement

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