In order to thrive in the global marketplace, businesses need employees who can communicate effectively— heightening the need for language learning. But out of all the strategies there are, what’s really effective and what’s not?
In order to thrive in the global marketplace, it’s not enough to just stick to one’s native language anymore. Closing deals, building potential partnerships and opening business opportunities require individuals who understand the language and culture of others. Although unnoticed, language and cultural misunderstandings are sometimes sources of failed investments, that’s why the business world today gives high regard to professionals who are able to communicate effectively across borders. In fact, a study by New American Economy reveals that the demand for bilingual workers is continually rising as they are believed to be more empathetic and creative.
But venturing beyond one’s mother tongue isn’t easy as you would think it is. Learning a second language comes with many preconceived notions such as “taking a class or two is enough” and “just memorize nonstop.” This isn’t exactly the case, thus, it’s imperative to expose and resolve language learning myths as the strategies you’re using now may not be as effective as you make them out to be.
The Myth. It’s sufficient to just take a language course.
The Truth. Real world application matters.
Studying is very different from applying. So, as much as classroom instruction is presently enforced, it’s not actually advisable for language learning. In truth, talking at you promotes non-participation; leaving no room for real-life application. The system of language teaching is fundamentally flawed. Information is given in chunks, learners are required to memorize irrelevant concepts and practice often comes in the form of mere writing. Because of this, actually speaking the language becomes overlooked. In order to make up for that, it’s best to supplement knowledge intake by personally speaking the language. This allows the increase of second-language vocabulary retention in response to the arising problem that the text coverage critically needed by ESL learners to understand English isn’t met. Thus, reading and writing should be accompanied by practice in order to broaden one’s vocabulary.
The Myth. The older you are, the harder it is to learn a new language.
The Truth. No one’s ever too old to learn.
There’s an old adage that goes “better late than never.” And in the context of language learning, this quotation rings true as ESL acquisition is possible regardless of age. Children are often viewed as fast learners but in consideration of the criteria for language proficiency, young learners deal with simpler concepts compared to adults. That’s why their progress appears quicker than that of an adult learner yet the difficulty level is more or less the same. In actuality, adults can learn language faster as long as the learning speed will commensurate how much focus and time is spent learning.
The Myth. Every person learns the same way as others do.
The Truth. Personalize your language learning approach.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to learning as every person has his own learning style that may not be effective for others. If an approach isn’t tailored to you and your life, you may find language learning all the more challenging. In response to this, boost engagement and achievement by personalizing your methods to your needs and preferences. You can seek help from native speakers, avail of a language training program that offers various products/services, or access the internet for additional materials.
The Myth. Interacting with other language learners is enough.
The Truth. It’s always better to practice with a native speaker.
Practicing a new language calls for more than just talking to your fellow language learners. Although this is also helpful, there are many things a native speaker can teach you compared to just your peers, such as nuances and other invaluable knowledge. Taking it from someone who’s familiar with the language firsthand not only boosts confidence in conversing with native speakers but also increases your ability to understand them.
The Myth. Exposure to the language in its native country speeds up language learning.
The Truth. You can learn a new language in the comfort of your own home/workplace.
Being constantly exposed to a foreign language doesn’t guarantee rapid language acquisition. In fact, it’ll leave you even a little confused because of the different pronunciations, speeds and accents there are. Learning a language is more than just listening to it. It takes understanding the words, structures and concepts first before applying it. So, you don’t have to live somewhere else in order to learn a language. Studying and practicing it with a live coach is enough for starters; in that way you are guided step by step. You can also augment by watching and listening to media for further passive exposure.