Can we use the same learning processes to learn a second language as we did with our first one?
This is the holy grail for many teachers of language. We have all learned and become fluent in our first language. The process of learning our first language did not seem onerous…and we never had to write, study, work or revise lists of words. It kind of just happened, naturally.
It is obvious that we are good at language and we can learn one. However, when we move onto a second one, it seems a lot more difficult. This is partly caused by a change of environment. In our first language we are immersed in the language and so we learn as we go along. In our second we are often not immersed – language is pushed to the fringes of our life into lessons, revision and the odd holiday. And so opportunities to learn are reduced.
The environment is not the only aspect that changes however – we also radically change the way we learn a second language – and this is something we can control.
The best way to learn a language – Discovery Learning
Most language learning systems are prescriptive: i.e. the the teacher tells you what to learn and when to learn it. By contrast, we learned our first language through Discovery Learning. This the the process of discovering what we want to know when we want to know it. On a simple level, as a child we might have pointed at a dog and our mother (or father) would say “Dog”…and we would repeat “Dog!” At this momment we really wanted to know the name of this animal and we received the information at the moment of wanting it. Some scientists call this the Eureka! moment or Aha! moment. It is extremely powerful and the best way to learn a language.
If Discovery Learning is the best way to learn a language – why is it not used?
Discovery Learning is extremely difficult to replicate in the classroom or even in home learning. How do you pass responsibility of learning to the learner so that they learn what they want to learn – and yet still ensuring that they learn what the teacher wants them to. It is extremely problematic and, indeed, hardly any language learning resources embed Discovery Learning in their methodology. But now there is a MFL Resource based on Discovery Learning.
An MFL language game with built in Discovery Learning
KLOO is a new game created by an award winning games designer working in co-operation with MFL teachers. The game embeds Discovery Learning so that students are motivated to want to find out the meanings of words to make sentences and score points. The longer the sentences and the more words they discover, the faster they score. All of the vocabulary has been developed with MFL teachers so that students learn important high frequency words in French and Spanish. In a typical game students will effortlessly learn 15 – 30 words. After a few games they will know all the words in a deck and will move onto the next one. The learning is fast, easy and fun – and never feels like work or study. In fact it all comes just naturally.
In 2011 KLOO won 6 major awards including Dr Toy Best Classic Toy and ToyTalk Best Board or Card Game…these awards tell you the game is a lot of fun. Teachers are also finding it is highly effective and are reporting highly enthusiastic children learning a language, fast (without even knowing it!) That’s Discovery Learning in action.
Watch this short cartoon video to see how easy it is to learn French words with Discover Learning.
- What’s the best way to teach children a language? (languagepie.wordpress.com)
- Best ways to learn a foreign language the language triangle
- The Best Way to Learn a Language – a lesson from Benjamin Franklin!