Monday, October 26, 2009

What is the best way to learn another language?

Full immersion.

Have you ever wondered why all those years of foreign language instruction seem to evaporate every time you want to use them? Languages are a remarkably complex undertaking (just like music) that require constant and prolonged practice.

Our brains are designed to learn based on trial and error and repetition/practice. The only way to eventually hard wire something as complex as a new language into our brains is to live it and experience it with everything we have. This means, we need to speak, think, write, dream, and hear it every minute of the day for a few months. Learning languages in a classroom only create temporary connections in our brain that tend to dissolve quickly if not constantly "experienced".

I personally can attest that I learned more in the first 2 months of full immersion that in 9 years of classroom instruction. I suspect that some of the theory and knowledge acquired during those 9 years, helped make the immersion process more efficient, but not until immersion was I able to understand and speak a foreign language fluently.

So, stop struggling. Make immersion (6 months minimum) part of your plan for truly learning a new language.

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