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Myths about language (part 1)

Language barrier… It sounds like a diagnosis of intractable disease, functional dumbness, forcing a person who just glibly chattered in his native language, painfully stutter, “becat” and “mekat”, and even just silent as a fish, as soon as you have to say a few phrases in a foreign language.

Is it possible to get rid of it? Of course, but for this, as in the treatment of any disease, it is necessary to understand its causes, as doctors say, “etiology”.

The easiest way, of course, to blame bad teachers, unimportant textbooks, yourself – for the “inability” to languages, etc. But all this is only a consequence of General misconceptions about what a foreign language is and how to master it. No one type of education is surrounded by so many myths as language, and these myths often generate and spread not ignorant “simpletons”, and Methodists and teachers.

Myth-driven consciousness perceives reality in a distorted light and, in particular, becomes a dead end before non-existent difficulties. So there is the notorious language barrier. This article does not pretend to be intensive psychotherapy, but at least it attempts to expose the most popular

Myth one: “The sooner, the better»
Not only the uninitiated, but many teachers are sure that the sooner the child begins to learn the language, the better. It is desirable that the process began in General from infancy, and if this is not possible, then from kindergarten. And at the very least, from the first grade, in special schools. Missed the point – guard shout. You can’t really learn anything. Because your brain is no longer equipped for it.

As a result, adults often refuse to even take up a foreign language, or begin to engage with enthusiasm, but quickly disappointed. And teachers pull a strap on adult courses, feeling that at such “resistance of material” hopes for success a little.

However, the studies of developmental psychology and brain, on which to base such a claim, apply to the 60-th years of the last century. And new data show that physiological differences between the brain of a child and an adult do not affect the assimilation of a foreign language.

“Have you ever heard an adult claim that he would drive a car much better if he got behind the wheel before reaching 14-15 years? Also, few people complain that they would become a much better Manager if they began to study business at the age of five. However, regarding a foreign language, it is widely believed that adults will inevitably have problems and they will never be fluent in the language, while children allegedly grasp the language with ease,” writes American Methodist brad Marshall.

Modern scientists have proved that in fact adults have exactly the same ability to “absorb” a foreign language, and in some cases have much better time than children. While toddlers are better at understanding phonetics, older students are better at dealing with complex aspects of the language, such as translation, grammar, and vocabulary.

Of course, children learn the language better if they are in a language environment and if they pass the so-called “silent period” before speaking, that is, they listen, but do not speak. Adults, as a rule, do not have this opportunity: in most situations they have to say something, but to speak.

There are exceptions. One Russian emigrant, being in the United States (without language), realized his lack of demand in this country and fell into depression. All day he was lying on the couch and staring senselessly at the TV, where there were, of course, transmission in English. Imagine his surprise when some time later he found that almost all understand! Depression along with the language barrier as a hand removed, and soon the guy found his place in society…

The absolute advantage of adults is that they are able to meaningfully compare a foreign language with their native language, use logical thinking, lexical and grammatical analogies.

And the difficulties are primarily due to psychological factors, not the least of which is the suffering about their own “old age” to learn the language. Young children do not have such problems, so they are more open to a foreign language.

In this regard, foreign Methodists do not welcome the introduction of the language into the program from the second grade (which is expected in the near future and Russian children). “Teaching language in ninth grade five hours a week will generate far more fluent speakers than the same five hours in second or fourth grade. In addition, a few years of learning the language at the elementary level is unlikely to lead to a strong long-term knowledge, if they are not followed by intensive teaching in high school and in high school,” says penny er, an experienced British teacher and Methodist, the author of a number of English textbooks for foreigners. In her opinion, the “myth of age” is largely based on the fact that immigrant children learn the language faster than adults. But this, in her opinion, can be explained by “incoming” reasons, such as existence in the language environment, a favorable ratio of teachers and students and just a high motivation: children Willy-nilly have to speak, just to survive. While in class, studying foreign language, to reproduce the “immigrant” situation is impossible, no matter what role-playing games did not invent the teachers.

The second myth: “can’t you go faster?»
No, gentlemen, you can’t. No matter how many sane Methodists say that it takes time and effort to master the language, that “a unique technique: 1200 words and all the grammar in 6 lessons” is nothing more than an elementary sell, there are still hunters to such courses. But, throwing away time and money, many of them for a long time lose the desire to continue linguistic experiments on themselves. There is also a reverse side of the medal: “you need to learn the Language all your life” – says Natalia Bonk, and many, I think, will subscribe to her words. And they will make an unexpected conclusion: “if I do not have the opportunity to learn the language all my life, then I will never learn it.”

And no need: you do not claim the laurels of the same Bonk, Charles Dickens or “American Dahl” Noah Webster, the compiler of the famous dictionaries. Deadlines should not be set for the study of an abstract “language as a whole”, but for a specific task.

A standard program of language courses abroad can last a month or two weeks. But deeply mistaken are those who believe that this period is enough to properly learn the language. With enough intensive classes – 5-6 hours a day – you can only buy a primary lexico-grammatical reserve (beginners) or increase the level of existing knowledge by one step.

Language in universities sometimes have students with a very weak knowledge. By the fifth year, with proper diligence, they are no different from graduates of special schools, that is, five years of intensive training is enough. And the second language is taught in the same universities for three years and also, as a rule, master it to the proper degree. And comprehensively: speak, read, write, actively use the most difficult grammatical forms.

On self-respecting Russian language courses, the standard basic program lasts at least six months – and this is only the basic! A full course of study – from zero to perfection – usually lasts about the same as the University – three to four years. This, in General, is the optimal period of mastering all aspects of the language.

Why then two-week, monthly, etc. courses, you ask. And their focus is purely practical: they are designed to “refresh” existing knowledge or acquire the rudiments of a certain skill: learn to speak, or read, or master special vocabulary, or prepare for the exam. To do this, according to the calculations of academician Viktor Votinov, the author of the method of “Sliding”, requires 48 hours of training. The rest will follow.

Myth three: “Why am I so stupid!»
“I am incapable of languages” – some say these words, lamenting their own stupidity, others even flaunt it. But, regardless of emotions, such an installation reliably separates a person from the coveted knowledge.

Most often, the myth of the inability to languages is introduced into the minds of our dear school teachers, and this is due to the specifics of the program and the conditions of teaching. The group is large, the curriculum is tough, everything needs to be done in a certain time – and then someone does not understand something, does not remember, pestering with questions… do Not snap the same as in the store: “there are many of You, and I am one.” It is much easier to declare children “incapable” and, ignoring their difficulties, to gallop through the textbook to pass it until the end of a quarter or a year.

As D. A. Prigov used to say, “you can understand them, but you can not forgive them.” The myth of inability is perhaps the most harmful of all, because it deprives a person of what no training is possible without: self-confidence. Meanwhile, according to Natalia Bonk, “absolutely incapable of language people – like genius – are very rare. The main thing is the ability to think logically and a developed sense of analogy with the native language or with the foreign language that a person already knows… you Can learn the language even in old age, having average abilities…” Who saw the students of courses for the “third age” in foreign language schools, will not doubt this statement.

As for the “sense of analogy with the native language”, this is also a quality that the school should educate – but does not educate. Sometimes it seems that Russian and foreign are taught by people from different planets. I remember how one of my “incapable” students could not learn the simplest thing – the use of the words good and well. The investigation showed that the difference between a short adjective and an adverb as such is unknown to him – in Russian, in English…

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