French Language Learning Tips
We’re not parrots! So why do we still learn parrot fashion?
Independent research has shown that some, much used learning methods, are totally inefficient ways to learn a foreign language.
The main practice to be placed in the naughty corner is learning by rote (this includes vocabulary lists, phrase books and repetition exercises). Dr. H. Douglas Brown in his excellent book “Principles of Language Learning and Teaching” states that if you learn using such products and methods you are likely to suffer from “Systematic Forgetting” – a scary thought which roughly means “in one ear and out the other”. There are strong scientific reasons for this phenomenon.
Rote learning involves the mental storage of information that is random and unconnected with other bits of information. Its insular nature means it is unlikely to be retained – a bit like someone asking you to remember a random telephone number while they dial it. You hold on to the information to complete the task in hand. Within minutes, however, the information has been forgotten. Alas.
So what does work?
There are two main methods for learning vocabulary that are proven to work. And you can combine them for to power boost your learning.
Method 1: Learning vocabulary through Discovery Learning.
Method 2: Learning vocabulary through context
METHOD 1: Discovery Learning
Discovery Learning replicates the way we learned our first language. Discovery Learning is learning what we want to know, when we want to know it. It creates a Ah ha! Moment. In essence, when we discover something of importance to us, at that moment, our brains become hugely receptive – like sponges…and because it is deemed important the information locks into the long term memory.
Oh Happy Days! We can learn vocabulary more easily if we can just use Discovery Learning.
Watch the short animated video below to show how Discovery Learning works.
But there is a third method that you can combine with Discovery Learning – and that is putting words into context. This can boost your learning further.
METHOD 2: Putting vocabulary into context
I was struck by the recent news of a young man who is fluent in 11 languages. There is a lovely piece on him on the BBC where he does in fact speak in all 11 languages. It is significant that he said only one thing about what makes it easier for him to learn new languages and I wrote it down word for word. He stated:
“THE EASIEST WAY TO LEARN IS FROM CONTEXT. I REMEMBER WHAT I SEE OR HEAR MORE EASILY THAN WORDS WRITTEN IN A LIST”
Meaningful learning means connecting new information with information that is already known. This creates what is called a cognitive structure – in essence the new information is “hooked” in by the known information. And the more hooks there are, the more “anchored” the new information becomes.
Dr Brown says that this theory (its worth reading it all)
“In a meaningful process like second language learning, mindless repetition, imitation and other rote practices in the language classroom have no place. Too many languages are filled with rote and practice that centres on surface forms. Most cognitive psychologists agree that the frequency of stimuli and the number of times spent practicing a form are not highly important in learning an item. What is important is meaningfulness. It appears that contextualized, appropriate, meaningful communication in the second language seems to be: THE BEST POSSIBLE PRACTICE THE LEARNER OF A SECOND LANGUAGE COULD ENGAGE IN.”
KLOO blends methods 1 and 2 to build vocabulary
KLOO Language Games has built these two learning principles into a game. Players will learn how to make sentences in foreign sentences in seconds as well as Discover the meanings of words as they play. The results often astonish those who play. In a game, players will typically learn 15 – 30 words – without trying. And often it’s not until they play again that they realise they have effortlessly picked up vocabulary and know how to immediately make sentences with them.
If you are learning a language you should try it. It’s fun!
Watch this short animated video of how it works.
One other thing.
The best way to learn to speak a language is through Meaningful Interaction with humans!
On the other hand meaningful interaction is the best possible way to learn a foreign language. This means talking a foreign language with another person. That other person does not have to be fluent. They can be friend, member of the family or colleague who wants to learn the language too.
KLOO does this too!
A French MFL Game that makes learning French Fast, Easy, Fun and Meaningful!
How about a game that uses the principles that Dr Brown extols? That puts words in context, uses Discovery Learning, makes them meaningful and involves social interaction (not screen interaction).
Only KLOO does this. Multi-award winning language games that are growing fast in schools and at home. Check out the video below – it shows how easy it is to make French sentences with KLOO cards.
KLOO language games are also available for learning English, Spanish and soon – Italian.
Dr H. Douglas Brown is a professor of MA-TESOL at San Francisco State University and has written many books, articles and textbooks on language teaching.
- The key to learning a language is context (languagepie.wordpress.com)
- Parlez-vous l’Internet? French Language Lessons on Skype Win E-Learning Award for Verbalplanet.com (prweb.com)
- Brighten up French Lessons with some language fun (languagepie.wordpress.com)
- How Do Primary School Children Learn Languages? (tutoringtoexcellence.blogspot.com)