Basics of language learning

I think it’s very important to remember how we learnt our native language(s). If you want to to learn the English language well you need to have exposure to that language on a regular basis.

Young kids are exposed to their maternal language(s) for up to 3 years before they utter a clear sentence in that/those language(s). Their brains are accumulating language information so that they can process it into usable phrases.

It all comes from having repeated access to an ever-increasing language input (from Mum, Dad, big sister/brother, grandparents, neighbours etc etc)

I picked up, with very little study, both Spanish and Catalan after the age of 30 by having regular exposure to the two languages.

A child hears the word “nose” tens or even hundreds of times before they use it in a sentence.

You must find good examples of the spoken language, break it up into small manageable sections (10-30 minutes) and listen to the same section at least twice a day. You can get material from the BBC, or search for podcasts on internet. If you record 1 or 2 minutes of classical music (without words) at the beginning it also help to open up both hemispheres of your brain :) You do not need to listen attentively: listen while you are driving, cooking, running, biking, walking etc

My younger students listen to between 10 and 20 minutes twice a day, older students listen to longer sections. You might like this fun article to put things in context:     English learning is child\’s play

2 Responses to “Basics of language learning”

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  1. “listen while you are driving, cooking, running, biking, walking” requires a constant effort. You can’t expect it to have instant effect.

    Keep doing it daily. It is the best way to learn a language.


    • admin says:

      Good comment :) In the same way that we learnt our native language we have to put in the regular hours of exposure to the language. But the evidence with my students is very clear, the students who spend between 15 minutes and 30 minutes, twice a day, listening to and reading English improve much faster than those who don’t.

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