October 18, 2017

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Learn with love and curiosity

August 3, 2017

Learning a language is about developing personal connections with the language, people and culture. If English is just a book and tests, then it will be difficult to really feel the meaning.

Friendship - developing friendships with speakers of the language is essential to growing personally in a language. Partly because you can practice with them. But, also because when you do study, you can think about how the words and grammar relate to your friends. When I was learning Japanese in university I used to spend two sometimes three hours before meeting my Japanese friends just revising vocabulary.

I remember one time in particular my Japanese friend invited me to go to Karaoke (KTV) at 7pm that night. I downloaded the lyrics from three songs that I had been listening to and first read for the unknown words and looked them up and write down the definitions in my vocabulary book. A few were hard to understand how to use from the dictionary definition: gaze, destiny, overcome. I looked at the example sentences and wrote them down as well. I reread the lyrics and practiced singing them. I could follow the general meanings of each songs, but I couldn't understand some lines.

At certain times it was too fast initially and I needed to practice making the sounds quickly. I didn't realise it at the time but this was exactly the kind of muscle training that my mouth needed to produce Japanese words more fluently. As I was singing and following the rhythm I could feel how the words across the sentences could be broken down and within each word how the syllables could be separated.

 

I took the lyrics with me in my pocket to the Karaoke and I was trying to use some of the new vocabulary with my friends, some were very useful - others weren't. The time came for me to sing. As I sung I was putting my recognition of the Kanji to the test. Linguistically I was up to the challenge - I still sounded awful but as I sung I did understand what it meant to be 'lost in the gaze' of a loved one. I talked with a friend about it and I never forgot any of that vocabulary.

When we learn because we want to share music, art, stories with speakers of that language, and be a part of that community, that is when we will really make big improvements with our language proficiency. Are you curious, do you learn English because you want to find out more? When we are curious about something, we will always remember what we find out.

 

 


 

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