When it comes to the Language Learning experience, to me, “Excitement” seems a tiny word.
In fact, language learning and teaching, have always been overwhelming for the language lovers. Therefore, whenever I see a novice struggling, I deeply feel like helping that guy digest couple of more phrases. By the same token, when I see my senior students, taking initiatives in guiding their juniors, during their Chinese language learning journey __ it is always heartening too!
You see, there has always been a global “sweet tendency” of mentoring the language learners. But notwithstanding this sincere helping attitude, not many guides prove themselves to be good language teachers. As a result, usually the poor learners suffer; and soon find themselves in utter confusion __ even winding up language learning, all in their frustration.
This is mainly because of the “great expectations” on the teachers’ part; a wish of pouring much, in too less a time.
What to do then?
Be a part of the Solution!
Yes, we can go for it, together. Though, right now I am not drilling into language learning psychology. But my task here, is to present some tips, and a few do’s & don’ts.
You see, the second language learning is always an uphill task. Whereas teaching is even a bigger challenge. From the very beginning, difference from the learner’s first language matters more.
I being a Chinese Language trainer, am quite aware of ups & downs of this language learning journey _ at least for 10 years I am witnessing & enjoying _ ever since I am teaching Chinese Language to universities & corporate sector in Pakistan.
So, what I want to imply here is that language learning; especially a second language is like mountaineering, and it is “usually” believed that before hitting the peak, it passes through four challenging base camps.
But in my opinion, this is an “over-simplification”. In fact, there are three more pre-base-camps, even before the first stage; “Listening”. So the total language learning stages are seven:
- Meaning acquisition
Ironically, the first necessary three stages (1 to 3), specially the first two are mostly taken for granted. In fact, these are often “overshadowed” by Listening; end-up in a non-smooth sail for the learner. It has to be, because stages hierarchy do matters.
Putting it simpler; Hearing is different from Listening; Repeating is different from Speaking. Therefore these seven base camps should not cross over each other.
We are going to explain it. Don’t worry, here goes our tips:
- One word at a time. Keep in mind the target of the learner: That person is not your regular language student; only wants to only grab and use the survival lingo (quick phrases). Just help him do so, at his own pace. At this stage, assessing his mind’s lingo processing speed is very important for you as a guide. And the “dose size” is also critical. Therefore, slowly unfold to him / her, the “sounds”, one word at a time, just one word alone. Then two words together or a small phrase, and so on. Let him hear, two to three times. Its assimilation is essential.
- Now let him repeat. Couple of times; in “own” pronunciation and tempo. Usually we should refrain from telling the sound and meaning together. Remember, bombarding on his ears & mind, all three dimensions (sound, meaning & speaking) together won’t let him learn efficiently. We should rather encourage him first to repeat the phrase you just said, thrice or so. At this stage his sound production would be more helpful than perfect pronunciation. By the way, you have not told him the meaning yet. Hold your horses, it is the next step.
- Making it meaningful. Here you can unfold meaning of the phrase in his language or using sign language. He will surely win the race, because you have let him reach here slowly, slowly. So keep giving him a breaks, as it is always better than information overload.
- Finally comes speaking. Now repeating with meanings in mind, will not only help him learn that phrase, but also to feel a bit of cultural sense attached. And with the passage of time, after having little sessions like this, and having learnt couple phrases / words, his increasing lingo database will grow and grow.
Remember, it is important to understand that language is a tool of communication. So, naturally to know to handle this tool would take some time. In this course, the patience at the end of guide is more important than the learner. Hence slow dose, with time for assimilation with practice segments are keys to smart language acquisition, especially when the learner is focused for functional language learning only.
On a side note: If the learner happens to be a foreigner, then you never know that he after learning basics of your language, might take you to interesting journey of his own language with the help of the lingo you just taught him. All as a token of gratitude.
Post Script Tip: During COVID-19 Quarantine phase, utilizing this time in skill development, especially learning language for commercial focus, like learning Chinese Language would certainty be a sane Idea. I know my very many senior language learners are already making the most of this period.
So why wait?
Start with reading good blogs on language learning, and also joining some online language course as future investment.