學習貼士:外語學習七五三

A: Seven misconceptions about language learning.There are over 6,000 languages in the world. Some ar

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A: Seven misconceptions about language learning.

There are over 6,000 languages in the world. Some are more important than others, not better or more advanced, just more important. Why? Because they are spoken by more people, in more countries. That does not mean that Finnish is not important to the Finns, and Maori is not important to the Maoris. It is just that these languages are not so important to the rest of us.

On the other hand, Mandarin Chinese is spoken by over one billion people. Chinese origin words account for 60% of Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese vocabulary. Knowing Chinese will help you learn these languages too. It helped me. Chinese culture has influenced the world for thousands of years with its art, philosophy, technology, food, medicine and performing arts. Today China's economy is booming. Chinese seems well worth learning.

Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese are essentially dialects of the same language. If you learn one, you can learn the others. I did. If you learn Spanish, you open the door to the culture, music, history and possible business dealings with 800 million people in 60 countries, including the US and Canada.

If you get ambitious you could try Russian, as I have been doing for the last two years. Once you have Russian you can probably communicate with other Slav speakers.

But hold it here! Before getting carried away, let's look at the present situation of language teaching. According to one Canadian survey, after 12 years of daily French classes, only one high school graduate out of 147 (0.68%) achieved "intermediate" proficiency. Another survey of immigrants learning English in the US showed that "classroom instructional hours" had little impact on progress.

If we cannot teach our own official languages in North America, what hope is there for other languages like Chinese or Spanish, let alone Russian, Arabic or Hindi?

As a speaker of 10 languages I know the benefits of speaking more than one language. We simply have to change the way we go about teaching languages. To start with we need to dispel seven common misconceptions about language learning.

#1 Language learning is difficult

It is only difficult to learn a language if you don't want to. Learning a language takes time, but is not difficult. You mostly need to listen and read. Believe me, it is that simple. I have done it many times. Soon you feel the satisfaction of understanding another language. Before you know it you start speaking. It is the way languages are usually taught that makes language learning hard to like.

#2 You have to have a gift for learning languages

No you don't. Anyone who wants to, can learn. In Sweden and Holland most people speak more than one language. They can't just all be gifted at languages. Foreign athletes in North America usually learn to speak English faster than people in more formal learning environments. In language learning it is attitude, not aptitude, that determines success.

#3 You have to live where the language is spoken

Some immigrants to North America never learn to speak more than halting English. Yet we meet people in other countries who speak flawless English. In 1968, I learned to speak Mandarin fluently while living in Hong Kong, where few people spoke it. With the Internet, language content is available to anyone with a computer, and you can download it to your iPod and listen. Where you live is not an obstacle.

#4 Only children can learn to speak another language well

Recent brain research has demonstrated that our brains remain plastic well into old age. Adults who lose their eyesight have to learn a new language, braille, for example. Adults have a wide vocabulary in their own language and are better language learners than children. I have learned 4 languages since the age of 55. Adults only need the child's willingness to experiment and desire to communicate, without the fear of ridicule.

#5 To learn a language you need formal classroom instruction

This is the crux of the problem. Classrooms may be economical to run and a great place to meet others. They have the weight of history and tradition behind them. Unfortunately, a classroom is an inefficient place to learn a language. The more students in the class, the more inefficient it is. Languages cannot be taught, they can only be learned. Theoretical grammatical explanations are hard to understand, hard to remember, and even harder to use. Drills and exercizes are annoying to most people. A majority of school kids graduate unable to communicate in languages that they study for 10 or more years.

# 6 You need to speak in order to learn (and I have nobody to speak to)

Speaking the language is usually the goal of language learning, but speaking can wait. Once you have acquired the language, you will find the opportunity to speak. When you are learning the language it is more important to listen. Trying to just pick up a few "handy" phrases to say is likely to just get you into trouble. If you meet a native speaker, you will inevitably spend most of your time listening unless you already know the language. You do not need to speak in order to learn, you need to learn in order to speak.

#7 I would love to learn but I don't have the time

How about the time you spend waiting in line, commuting, doing things around the house, going for a walk? Why not use that time to listen to a language on your iPod? Once you get started, even 10 or 15 minutes a day will soon grow to 30 minutes a day, or one hour. If you believe you will achieve significant results, and if you enjoy doing it, as I do, you will find the time.

B: Five (weak) excuses for not learning a language

We all have the ability to learn to speak more than one language. Throughout history, whenever languages co-existed in close proximity, people managed to communicate across the language divide, naturally. They had to. That is still true today. Where different languages brush up against each other, people have no trouble learning another language and using it, whether it be children selling souvenirs in the market, or business people in international meetings. This is true in Asia, Africa, America and Europe.

We don't need a special gift for language learning. Doing so is natural to us all. Today, in the Internet and information age, we no longer live in isolation, linguistically or culturally. The opportunity to engage with other languages is greater than ever.

So why don't more people learn other languages, especially in North America? In part it is because of the seven common misconceptions about language learning, which confuse people. There are also five common excuses for not learning a language. But are they valid?

1) I am not interested in languages, I don't need them.

Is this really true? What if you could do it for free, free of cost and free of effort?

I sold encyclopedias door to door, almost 50 years ago. My door-opener was, "if you could get a complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, free of charge, would you be interested?". That often got me in the door. Parents could visualize an encyclopedia to share with their children. Once I explained that it was not free, "but for less than you spend on coffee or cigarettes...," I was usually shown the door.

I use the same question with reluctant language learners. "If you were guaranteed to learn to speak another language, without a lot of hard work, would you be interested?" The answer is usually "yes".

Many people who say they are not interested, would really like to speak another language. Some may even have heard that language learning is excellent stimulus for the brain. But too often the image they see is one of tedious study. They do not have the experience of speaking another language. They cannot visualize the feeling of satisfaction that this brings. So in many cases the interest is there, it is just a matter of getting started.

2) I would like to learn but I cannot seem to get started.

Sometimes the goal of fluency in a language seems too far off, and difficult to envision if you have never done it. It may be better to set a short term goal to kick-start your studies, to "get your feet wet" and overcome this inertia. "L'appetit vient en mangeant" say the French, "appetite comes with eating". You just need to create the incentive to take that first bite.

Why not plan a trip to another country, and make it your goal to learn enough of the language before going, so that you can communicate and really enjoy your stay? Or, if you cannot do that, you could promise yourself that you are going to read a book, or watch a movie, in the original version. Maybe you have a friend or relative whom you want to surprise by speaking in their language. If you can make that first step, inspired by a short term goal, and if you study in an enjoyable way, you will be surprised how addictive and satisfying language learning can be.

3) I have tried before but gave up.

You are more likely to continue if your language study is meaningful and enjoyable. For most people, languages classes at school were a chore, and few students graduated speaking the language they were learning. Nowadays you have more options.

Just go to google and check out the many podcasts and online courses available for learning languages. You can also find blogs and forums and social networking sites, all dedicated to language. Once you get good enough in the language, you can search your iTunes directory for leading podcasts and blogs in different languages, on travel, technology, modern culture, or whatever you are interested in. You can also buy audio books in various languages via the Web, and in many cases the texts are also available for download at sites like Gutenberg.

With your MP3 player, you can listen over and over to things you find interesting, while absorbing the language. I recommend you to use those sources that have both audio and transcripts. That way you can read and use online dictionaries in order to understand what you are listening to. You need not get bogged down in grammar and drills. You will be surprised how fast you learn when you are enjoying yourself.

4) I am just not disciplined enough to study on my own.

Then by all means get a tutor to help you with your learning activities. You can find tutors for most major languages on the Internet. A good personal tutor can be one of the best investments you make, providing you with feedback and encouragement.

You do not need to spend hours a day with your tutor. A few hours a week, or even one hour a week, can be enough to keep you on track. You can arrange times that are convenient, and talk to your tutor via voice over Internet, from wherever is most convenient. You avoid the travel to and from class, and on the Internet it is easy to cancel or change your tutor whenever you want.

5) I can't afford the cost.

It need not cost that much.

In all likelihood you already own an MP3 player, and have Internet access. You can find audio books and other material at libraries and there is a lot of language help available on the Internet, free of charge.

Some people spend over $1,000 per month at language schools, but this is not necessary. You can do just as well on your own. Save your money so that you can make that trip you promised yourself to start it all.

C: The three stages of language learning

"You are what you eat"

-popular saying

In the global information age, maybe it should be "you are what you can say". Language, in its varied manifestations, is mankind's defining achievement, and it also defines us. Language can be social, political, technical, practical, entertaining, sensual, philosophical, and much more. At the banquet of life, each language is another course. The better you can use languages, your own and others, the more you can enjoy the feast. At least that has been my experience.

I have achieved varying degrees of fluency in 12 languages, and look forward to learning more. To me, there are three natural stages in language growth, which I outline here. Billions of dollars are wasted on ineffective language and literacy instruction programs, which ignore these natural stages.

The first stage Connecting with the language - 60-90 hours

My Goal: To become familiar with a strange language
My Measurable: Learn to recognize 1000 words
Main task: Listen repeatedly to short, simple content
My Target Languages: (planned) Czech, Arabic, Hindi, Turkish

When I begin, I need to "connect" with the new language and overcome my resistance to its strange sounds and structure. I don't need to speak. I don't need to understand any grammar. I don't need to get anything "right". I am not interested in mastering a few phrases or simple greetings. I want to get into the language, to get a feel for it.

Here is how Fred Genesee of McGill University describes the beginning stages of language learning.

When learning occurs, neuro-chemical communication between neurons is facilitated, in other words a neural network is gradually established. Exposure to unfamiliar speech sounds is initially registered by the brain as undifferentiated neural activity. As exposure continues, the listener (and the brain) learns to differentiate among different sounds and even among short sequences of sounds that correspond to words or parts of words

I start by repeatedly listening to short morsels of content. These are 30 seconds long at first, eventually growing to one minute or longer. I listen to the same mouthful (earful?) 20 times or more, to help forge the new "neural networks" in my brain. Ideally these short episodes are part of a longer "story", which makes the whole context meaningful. After focusing intensely on a new episode, I review all the old ones, so that I am able to digest longer and longer cumulative doses of the language. The Internet and my iPod shuffle make this content accessible and portable like never before in history.

Nowadays, I read the text of whatever I am listening to on my computer. This allows me to access an online dictionary and create my own database of words and phrases for review in a variety of ways. This acquisition of words and phrases, encountered in my listening and reading, is my key measurable goal as I grow in a language.

New words in a language at first seem strange and confusingly similar to each other. However, by staying with simple content, where common words appear often in different contexts, these words eventually start to stick. I usually associate the new words and phrases with episodes where I have heard them. The more associations I can attach to a word or phrase, the easier it is to remember.

I don't speak much at first. I have so few words anyway. I practice repeating words and phrases out loud to myself, in a haphazard manner. I don't worry about pronunciation. That will be easier to work on once my brain gets better at distinguishing the sounds.

I might speak a little, just for fun, to try out what I have learned. I can easily find a native speaker tutor or language exchange partner via the Internet. I don't got to classrooms, since I don't want to be confused by other non-native speakers.

The second stage Getting comfortable in most situations 180-360 hours

My Goal: To understand ordinary conversations and most everyday language
My Measurable: Less than 10% unknown words in most conversations
Main tasks: Listen to natural conversations; Work on vocabulary; Step up speaking and writing activity
My Target Languages: Russian, Portuguese, Korean 

Now that I no longer find the language strange, I want to deal with the language as it is usually spoken or written by native speakers. This is sometimes referred to as "authentic" language.

Conversation is the easiest "authentic" content to understand, because the most commonly used words of a language account for 90-95% of conversations. The same most commonly used words usually account for 70-75 % of more formal written material.

Each item of study is now longer, 3 to 5 minutes or so. I listen to each item less frequently and cover more material, in order to learn more words. I use dead time, doing chores, driving or jogging to listen, over and over. The more words I already know, the easier it is to learn new words. Vocabulary is like money, "the more you have the more you get" or "the rich get richer".

I like to stick to interesting and familiar subjects in my listening and reading, so I quickly drop anything that is uninteresting, or where I do not like the voices. At first it seems that native speakers talk very quickly, but my brain gets used to the natural flow, with enough repetition. I am not frustrated when I do not understand "authentic conversation". I feel exhilarated when I do.

Again, Professor Genesee's observations are helpful. Students' vocabulary acquisition can be enhanced when it is embedded in real-world complex contexts that are familiar to them.

I sometimes talk to native speakers on the Internet. Speaking helps me to identify weaknesses, missing words, concepts that I can't express, and words that I have trouble pronouncing. I can then work on these things on my own.

With limited contact with native speakers, I also write, especially on Internet blogs and forums. Writing is great for learning. I have time to compose my thoughts, and retain a record of my mistakes and problems.

At this stage, my main emphasis is still to listen, read, and increase my vocabulary.

The third stage Constant improvement 180 hours to forever

My Goal: To continue to enjoy the language, to learn more words, and to use the language better
My Measurable: Less than 10% unknown words in contexts that are of interest to me
Main tasks: Follow my interests
My Target Languages: French, Japanese, Mandarin, Spanish, Swedish, German, Italian, Cantonese, English

This is the most rewarding stage. I can travel to the country where the language is spoken, or meet with native speakers. I know I will enjoy the experience, even though I make mistakes. I can maintain the language, even if I go for long periods without using it.

This is the best stage to study grammar. I have books and audio books on grammar, intended for native speakers of the language. I am now familiar enough with the language, through exposure, that I can use style and usage manuals intended for native speakers. Nevertheless, my personal interest takes me more to history and literature. I find reading books and listening to audio books, on subjects of interest, is the most enjoyable and most effective way to continue improving, or to refresh in a language that I have not used for a while.

I am not required to take any language proficiency tests. If I were, this is the stage when I would prepare in earnest for them. The keys to success on these tests are, the ability to read quickly and comprehend the spoken language, and a wide vocabulary of words and phrases, all of which I have already acquired, enjoyably and painlessly. Only at this level would I take these test, since I know that I would score well.

This is also the stage to work on special skills like making presentations, writing academic papers, or producing business reports. It is easy to find relevant material in the target language on the Web and elsewhere. The goal is to imitate the wording and turns of phrase, as well as the ways of organizing information, that are most appreciated in a particular language and culture. It is easy enough to find a native speaker professional tutor or coach, again via the Web, to work on these skills.

Conclusion:

Having done it a few times, I know that I can learn a new language, or improve in a language I already speak well, including my own. So can anyone else who wants to. The key is motivation and enjoyment, not a school or a diploma. I know, as well, that the pursuit of perfection in any language is futile, so I am happy to make mistakes and do not really ask to be corrected. I just like to feast on languages, drinking, eating, tasting, chewing and digesting them. I never get full, although I may get a little intoxicated from time to time.

 

 

 

一、學習外語的七個誤區

世界上有6000多種語言,一些語言比另一些語言更重要,不是更好或者更先進,只是更重要。為什麼?因為更重要的那些語言在更多的國家被更多的人使用。這並不意味著芬蘭語對芬蘭人不重要,毛利語對毛利人不重要,只是這些語言對我們其他人而言不是那麼重要。

另一方面,中國普通話有10億多人在講。日語、韓國語和越南語的詞彙表中有60%的詞起源于中文。懂中文也將説明你學習這些語言。我就是這樣。中國文化用它的藝術、哲學、技術、食物、醫學和表演藝術等影響了世界數千年。今天,中國經濟繁榮昌盛,中文似乎很值得學習。

西班牙語、法語、義大利語和葡萄牙語本質上是同一種語言的不同方言。如果你學會了一門,就可以學習其他的各門。我就是這樣。如果你學會了西班牙語,你就打開了通向文化、音樂、歷史的大門,以及同包括美國和加拿大在內的60個國家的8億人口做生意的大門。

如果你有雄心壯志的話,可以試試俄語,過去的兩年我一直在學俄語。一旦你掌握俄語,你或許可以和其他說斯拉夫語的人溝通。

但是就此打住!在暈頭轉向之前,讓我們看看語言教學的現狀。根據一次加拿大的調查,每天都上法語課,過了12年後,147名高中生中只有一個(0.67%)會達到中等熟練程度。另一次關於美國移民學英語的調查顯示,“課堂教學時間”對進步幾乎沒有什麼影響。

如果我們不能在北美教我們自己的官方語言,還有什麼希望教漢語或西班牙語等其他語言?更不用說俄語、阿拉伯語或者北印度語了。

作為一個會講10種語言的人,我知道會講一種以上語言的好處。我們只是必須改變我們進行語言教學的方法。首先我們需要糾正語言學習的七個常見誤區。

1. 學習外語難

只有在你不想學的時候學一門語言才困難。學一門語言耗費時間,但是並不難。你主要的是需要聽和讀。相信我,就是那麼簡單。我已經學過很多次了。很快你就會體會到懂另一門語言的滿足感。不知不覺你就會說了。是那種通常教授語言的方式使得語言學習讓人難以喜歡。

2. 你必須有學習語言的天賦

不,你不必有。任何想學語言的人都可以學。在瑞典和荷蘭,大部分人不止會說一種語言。他們不可能都有語言天賦。北美的外國運動員通常比那些在更加正式的學習環境中的人更快地學習說英語。在語言學習過程中,是態度而不是天資決定成功。

3.你必須生活在所學外語的環境中

一些移民到北美的人頂多學會說磕磕絆絆的英語。然而我們在其他國家遇到過說一口完美英語的人。1968年,我在香港的時候學會了講流利的普通話,那裡很少有人講普通話。有了互聯網,語言內容對每個有電腦的人來說都可以得到,你可以把內容下載到你的iPOD然後再聽。你住在哪裡並不是一個障礙。

4.只有孩子才能很好的學會說外語

最近的大腦研究表明,我們的大腦到老都會很好的保持可塑性。比方說失去視力的成年人必須學一門新語言-布萊葉盲文,成年人有廣泛的自身語言詞彙,與兒童相比是更好的語言學習者。55歲以後我學過4門外語,成年人只需要像孩子那樣願意嘗試並渴望溝通,不害怕嘲笑。

5.要學外語需要接受正規的課堂教學

這是問題的癥結所在。上課或許很經濟,也是與他人見面的好地方,課堂有著歷史和傳統上的價值。不幸的是,學習語言課堂不是一個有效率的地方。課堂上學生越多越沒效率。語言不是教的,語言只能學。理論化的語法講解晦澀難懂,難以記住,要想運用就更難了。訓練和練習對大多數人來說是令人厭煩的。大多數孩子畢業的時候不能用他們已經學了10年或者10幾年的語言交流。

6.要想學你就需要開口說(我沒有人可以與之說)

說語言通常是語言學習的目標,但是說可以等等。一旦你學會了語言,你會找到說的機會。當你學語言的時候,聽更加重要。嘗試只挑選一些“手頭的”短語來說可能只會讓你陷入困境。如果你遇到一個說母語的人,你會不可避免的花費你的大部分時間來聽,除非你已經懂這門語言了。你不需要為了學習而說,你需要為了說而學習。

7.我很想學,可是我沒時間

你排隊等候花的時間,乘公車上下班的時間,在房子周圍做事情的時間,去散步的時間,這些時間怎麼樣?為什麼不用這些時間聽聽你下載在iPOD上的語言?一旦你開始,即使每天10分鐘或者15分鐘,不久就會增加到每天30分鐘或一小時。如果你相信你會取得巨大的成果,如果你很喜歡做這件事,就像我一樣,你會找到時間。

二、不學外語的五個(沒有說服力的)藉口

我們都有學會說不止一門語言的能力。縱觀歷史,只要不同的語言近鄰共存,人們總會自然而然地設法跨越語言分界進行溝通。他們必須這樣。今天依然如此。在不同語言相互碰撞的地方,無論是在市場上賣紀念品的孩子,還是國際會議上的商人,人們毫無困難的學習並使用另一語言。亞洲、非洲、美洲和歐洲都是如此。

我們不需要語言學習的特殊稟賦。學習語言對我們所有人來說都是自然的事情。今天,在互聯網和資訊時代,無論是從語言角度說還是文化角度說,我們都不再離群索居。接觸其他語言的機會比以往都多。

因此,為什麼更多的人不學另一門語言呢?尤其是在北美。部分原因是語言學習方面的7個讓人們迷惑的常見誤區,還有5個常見的不學一門語言的藉口。但是,這5個藉口站得住腳嗎?

1.我對語言不感興趣,我不需要他們。

這是真的嗎?要是你無需付出就可以學一門語言的話,不用花錢,也不用付出努力,怎麼樣?

差不多50年前,我挨家挨戶推銷百科全書。我的的開門秘訣是“如果你可以得到一整套不列顛百科全書,免費,你會感興趣嗎?”。這個辦法通常會使我有機會進門。父母們會在心裡想像一本可以和孩子分享的百科全書。一旦我解釋說不是免費的“但是收費不會超過在喝咖啡或者抽煙方面的花費...”的時候,我通常會被掃地出門。

我把相同的問題提給猶豫的語言學習者。“如果保證讓你學會說另一門語言,不需要非常努力地學習,你有興趣嗎?”回答通常是“是的”。

很多說不感興趣的人其實真地想說另一門語言。一些人甚至聽說過,學習語言對大腦有很好的刺激作用。但是他們太經常看到的是一種單調乏味的學習景象。他們沒有講另一門語言的經歷,他們不能想像由此而來的滿足感。因此,在很多情況下,興趣有,只是開始學的問題。

2.我想學,可是似乎無法下手。

有時候,流利地說一種語言的目標似乎太過遙遠,如果你從來沒有做到過的話,那個目標也很難想像。設定一個短期目標來開始你的學習或許會更好,“先把你的腳弄濕”,克服這種惰性。法語所說的“L'appetit vient en mangeant”就是“食欲越吃越旺”,你只需要找一個吃第一口的動機。

為什麼不做一個去外國旅遊一次的計畫,把去之前學會夠用的語言定為目標,這樣你就能溝通並真正享受你的旅行?如果你不能那樣做的話,或者你可以向自己保證,你要讀一本書或者看一部電影,原版的。或許你有一個朋友或親戚,你想用他們的語言說話來給他們一個驚喜。如果你能在短期目標的激發下邁出那第一步,如果你用愉快的方法學習,你會驚訝的發現語言學習將是多麼的令人醉心和滿足。

3.我之前試過但是放棄了

如果你的語言學習有意義且愉快,你更可能繼續下去。對大多數人來說,學校的語言課繁瑣無趣,很少有學生畢業的時候會說他們學的語言。現在你有更多的選項。

只要登錄穀歌,檢索出很多語言學習的播客和線上課程,你還可以找博客和論壇以及社交網站,都以語言為目的。一旦你在語言上學的足夠好,你可以搜索你的指示不同語言的播客和博客的iTunes索引,旅遊方面的、科技方面的、現代文化方面的,或者任何你感興趣的東西。你還可以通過網路購買不同語言的音訊書籍,在很多情況下,文本也可以在像“古藤堡”這樣的網站上下載到的。

利用你的MP3播放機,你可以一遍一遍的聽你覺得有趣的東西,同時理解這門語言。我推薦你使用那些既有音訊又有文本的資源。那樣你就可以閱讀並使用線上詞典以理解你正在聽的東西。你不必拘泥於語法和訓練,你會吃驚的發現你愉快的時候學的是多麼得快。

4.我不夠自律無法自學。

那麼無論如何找一個家庭教師,在學習行為方面給你提供幫助。你可以在互聯網上找到大部分主要語言的家庭教師。一個好的私人家庭教師給你提供回饋和鼓勵,可能是你所做的最好投資。

你不需要一天花費數個小時和你的家庭教師呆在一起,一周幾個小時,甚至一週一個小時或許足以使你走上正軌。你可以在最方便的地方安排方便的時間通過互聯網聊天功能和你的家庭教師交談。你可以免受來回上課的勞頓,在互聯網上,隨時撤換家庭教師是很容易的事。

5.我承擔不起花費

不需要花費那麼多。

很可能你已經擁有了一台MP3播放機,也有互聯網接入。你可以在圖書館找到音訊和其他資料,互聯網上有很多可供免費下載的語言學習資料。

有些人每月花在語言學校的費用就有1000多美元,這是不必要的。你完全可以自己學習,把錢節省下來進行你為了開始學習而許諾自己的旅行。

三、語言學習的三個階段

人如其食”-流行諺語

在全球資訊時代,這句話或許應該說成“人如其言”。表現各異的語言是人類最典型的成就,語言也是我們的特性。語言可以是社交的、政治的、技術的、實用的、娛樂的、色情的、哲學的,還有更多。在生活的盛宴裡,每一門語言都是一道菜。你能更好地使用你的母語和其他語言,你就越能享受這頓盛宴。起碼這是我的經驗。

我已經在12門語言上達到了不同程度的流利,還期待學更多種語言。對我而言,語言能力的發展有三個自然階段,我將其概括在此。數十億美元被浪費在無效的語言和識字輔導課程上,那些輔導課程都忽視了這三個自然階段。

第一階段 和外語建立聯繫 - 60-90小時

我的目標:熟悉陌生的語言

我的量化標準:學會識別1000個單詞

主要任務:反復聽簡短的內容

我的目的語言:(計畫中的)捷克語、阿拉伯語、北印度語和土耳其語

開始的時候,我需要與這種新語言建立聯繫並克服對其奇怪發音和結構的抵制。我不需要講,不需要理解任何語法,不需要得到任何“正確的”東西。我對掌握一些短語或者簡單的問候語不感興趣。我想習慣這種語言,找到對這種語言的感覺。

下面是麥克基爾大學的費雷德·傑納西對語言學習開始階段的描述。

學習行為發生時,神經元之間的神經化學交流得到促進,換句話說,一個神經網路被逐漸建立起來。大腦起初將接收到的不熟悉發音標示為無差別的神經活動。隨著持續的接收,聽者(以及大腦)學會區分不同發音甚至短的相當於話語或部分話語的發音序列。

我開始的時候反復聽短的文章片段。一開始這些片段有30秒長,最後增加到一分鐘或更長。為了説明在大腦中形成新的神經網路,同樣的話我要聽20遍,甚至更多。這些短片段是一個更長“故事”的一部分,這樣就很理想了,這使得整個上下文就有了意義。一心一意聽過一個新片段上之後,我複習所有聽過的舊片段,這樣我就能夠消化越來越長的語言累積量。互聯網和我的快閃記憶體型iPOD使這種文章隨手可得並便於攜帶,這是歷史上從來沒有過的。

現在,我閱讀曾在電腦上聽過的所有文本。這樣我就可以登錄到某個線上詞典並創建自己的詞彙和短語庫,以備用各種方法進行複習。隨著我在一門語言上的進步,掌握聽和閱讀過程中遇到的單詞和短語是我的關鍵衡量目標。

一門語言的新詞一開始看起來很奇怪,彼此之間很相似,容易讓人混淆。然而,通過反復閱讀簡單文章,其中的常見詞經常出現在不同的上下文中,這些詞最終開始在大腦中紮根。我通常把新詞及短語同我聽過的有這些詞的片段聯繫起來。我將一個詞或短語聯繫的越多,就越容易記住。

我一開始說的不多,無論如何我的詞彙量太小。我很隨意地對著自己大聲練習重複詞彙和短語,我不擔心發音。一旦我的大腦在分辨發音方面變得更好,繼續學習將更加容易。

我可以說一點,只是為了找樂,試試我學過的東西。通過互聯網,我可以輕易找到一個講母語的家庭教師或語言交流夥伴。因為我不想被其他講非母語的人搞迷糊了,所以我沒去上過外語課。

第二階段 在大部分情況下變得舒服 180-360小時

我的目標:懂得普通會話和大部分日常用語

我的量化標準:大部分對話中的生詞不超過10%

主要任務:聽正常會話;背詞彙;逐步增加說和寫的活動

我的目的語言:俄語、葡萄牙語和韓國語

由於我不再覺得這門語言奇怪,所以我想接觸當地人通常說的或寫的。有時候這被稱為“權威的”語言。

會話是要懂的最簡單的“權威的”內容,因為一門語言最常用的單詞占會話的90-95%。同樣這些單詞通常占正式一些的書面材料的70-75%。

每個學習項目現在更長了,差不多3到5分鐘。我聽每個專案的頻率有所降低,為了學更多的單詞轉而聽更多的材料。我利用一些死時間,零零碎碎的學,開車或跑步時聽,一遍又一遍。我已知的單詞越多,學習新單詞就越容易。詞彙就像錢,“你有的越多學的就越多”,或者說“富者更富”。

聽和讀的時候我喜歡找一些有趣的和熟悉的主題,因此我會馬上放棄我不感興趣或者有我不喜歡的有聲資料。起初,似乎講母語者說的很快,但是我的大腦經過足夠多的重複後逐漸適應了這種自然流。當我不理解“權威的會話”時,我不覺得沮喪;我理解了之後覺得振奮。

再說一遍,傑納西教授的意見是有幫助的。當學生的詞彙被嵌入到他們很熟悉的真實世界的複雜上下文中時可以得到加強。

有時候我在互聯網上和說母語者談話,開口說説明我找出缺點、遺漏的詞、不會表達的概念以及發音有問題的詞。然後我可以自己糾正這些問題。

通過和講母語者的有限聯繫、接觸,我還寫,特別是在互聯網博客和論壇上。寫對於學來說很重要。我有時間去編輯我的思想,保留我的錯誤和問題的記錄。

在這個階段,重點還是聽和讀,以及增加詞彙量。

第三階段 持續改善 180小時-永遠

我的目標:繼續享受這門語言,學更多的詞,更好的使用這門語言

我的量化標準:我感興趣的文章中的生詞不超過10%

我的任務:做我感興趣的事

我的目的語言:法語、日語、普通話、西班牙、瑞典語、德語、義大利語、廣東話和英語

這是最有回報的階段。我可以到講這種語言的國家去旅遊,或者會見以這種語言為母語的人。我知道我會享受這種經歷,即使我會犯錯誤。我可以保持對這門語言的掌握,即使我長時間不用它。

這是學習語法的最好階段。我有關於語法的書和音訊資料,專供說母語的人使用的。現在我對這門語言足夠熟悉,通過不斷接觸,我可以使用專供母語者使用的風格和使用手冊。不過,我的個人興趣更傾向于歷史和文化。我發現,讀書聽音訊資料,主題都是自己感興趣的,這是最愉快最有效的持續提高的方法,或者提起精神學習一門我還沒用過一會兒的語言。

我沒有必要去參加任何的語言水準考試。如果我有必要參加考試,我會在這個階段認真準備考試。取得這種考試成功的關鍵是快速閱讀能力和理解口語能力以及廣泛的詞彙和短語量,所有這一些我都已經快樂而毫無痛苦的達到了。只有達到這個水準我才會參加這些考試,因為我知道我會得到高分。

這也是學習特殊技能的階段,比如做演示、寫學術論文或者撰寫業務報告等。在網上和其他地方找到目的語言的相關資料很容易。目標是模仿某一特定語言和文化中最值得欣賞的措辭、語序以及組織資訊的方法。找一個講母語的專業家庭教師或教師來學習這些技巧非常容易,還是通過網路。

結論:

我已經如此這般許多次了,我知道我能學會一門新語言或者提高一門已經說的不錯的語言,包括我的母語在內。任何想這樣做的人都可以做到。關鍵在於激勵和享受,而不是一所學校或一個文憑。我又知道,任何一門語言要想追求完美是沒有用的,因此我很樂意犯錯誤,也真地不要求別人給我糾正錯誤。我就是喜歡饕餮語言盛宴,喝、吃、品嘗、咀嚼並消化他們。儘管我會不時有一點陶醉,但從來都沒飽過。

 

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