UNPOPULAR OPINION- People who learnt a language on their own are usually more confident in the language use than those who studied it in the university. Can I get a witness?
This is the reality. But why is this so?
The acquisition of a language only takes place when the learner has an understanding of the features of that language, through optimal input and adequate exposure to the language. However, this condition is not usually met in conventional universities and language institutes as the traditional method of language teaching, focuses on grammar more than it does on helping students translate language knowledge for real life situations. Hence the grammar rules and the long lists of words learnt, remain passive. Whereas, independent language learners, polyglots and hyperpolyglots get a lot of input by reading and listening to comprehensible and enjoyable content in their target language.
Don’t get it twisted! The knowledge of Grammar is essential. Especially when you need to test your knowledge by writing a language proficiency exam. Let’s not even forget about when it’s needed to discharge professional duties in the workplace environment. So you see, you can’t exactly throw away grammar.
Here’s what you should do.
While in the university, rather than learning a bunch of rules, get yourself an experiential knowledge of your target language. Go beyond the rules! Study the language but don’t forget to learn it.
How do you do this?
THE RIGHT WAY TO STUDY A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IN THE UNIVERSITY.
- Join active language groups on Facebook. Most of the people in these groups are learners but they usually have amazing language learning tips that would turn your grades around. Moreover, you can also get language exchange partners in such groups.
- Make native speakers your friends. Speak the language with them at every slight opportunity. Wondering where to find native speakers? They are everywhere. They are on many social networks like Lingbe, Speaky, Wespeke, Bilingua, Hellopal, Hellotalk, and many others.
- Use open source libraries. Your level of proficiency is determined by the number of words you know and can use in various contexts. This is why you’ll need to search for and download enjoyable language content like short stories, audio books and movies that’ll improve your reading and listening comprehension skills. It is important that you really enjoy your selection else you’ll just be piling up books and wasting your time.
- Use the Spaced Repetition Technique to learn vocabulary. This is usually done with flashcards. You can achieve this with Memrise and Anki applications. Ensure that you review new words regularly.
- Always prepare before you show up in class! Whatever learning activity you are doing outside the classroom, is only to complement what is being done in the class. It’s important to get good grades. Take free practice tests online on any topic taught. Read, revise and read again.
- Teach anytime you can. Teaching a language you are learning, broadens your knowledge of the language and helps you to be a better student. Always be ready to teach your colleagues when they ask. Look out for language-teaching volunteer opportunities within and outside the campus (Be careful not to let this disrupt your studies. Do it conveniently)
- Ask for help when you need to. Language learning can’t be done in isolation. If you need help, ask! and don’t stop until you get it. Ask lecturers and friends. You can ask google and YouTube too!
- Build or start a language club. Language learners need small groups and communities to constantly share ideas and communicate with other learners. If your university doesn’t have one for the language you are studying, you can pitch the idea of setting one up. And if there is a functional one, you can help to build it by being actively involved. You can do this by suggesting activities and working with others in a team to grow the club.
Language learning shouldn’t be less enjoyable because you are studying in the university. Where will you go from here???
This is the issue I currently face. Hopefully, I’ll surmount this by the few steps I’m taking.