Have You Ever Been Linguistically Tortured?
Have you ever struggled learning a new list of words for your foreign language classes applying a heroic effort and not receiving the desirable outcome? Me too! Translating vocabulary, then staring at a long (almost endless) list, fighting with constantly growing boredom and trying to store all the information in your poor exhausted brain that is begging for mercy. This is the unpleasant experience many language learners come through. But is this sacrifice really needed for improving your level of a new language? Well, lot of remarkable things started from a struggle, but let’s have a closer look at the “language challenge” and discover if it must be that painful.
Natural Means Pleasant: What Food and Language Have in Common
Close your eyes and imagine delicious fresh baked muffins in chocolate sauce with nuts and strawberries, they are filling the room with a nice seducing smell. Did this make you feel excited? If not, I give you the mental freedom to imagine any of your favorite dishes that would definitely turn you on. And now the question: does the image make you feel delighted or upset? I think, most of the people will choose the first option.
Our natural needs such as eating, sleeping, breathing etc. make us feel happy when satisfied. It is hard to imagine how fresh air, tasty dinner, good night sleeping or passionate sex could make an individual feel miserable. Thinking in that direction we come to a clear conclusion: natural means joyful. And what about the language? It is natural for us to communicate. More than that, we need to communicate. Humans are bio-social creatures, which means it is natural for us to use the second signal system – connections between brain centers that let us link words with their meanings as “abstracts of reality” (as it was defined by Pavlov). This logic leads us to the idea that since it is natural for people to use the language, we should enjoy it.
After you have realized that language learning is something that should make you happy, I will share my experience on how I accomplish this “big mission” in a fun way. As a translator I am learning new vocabulary all the time, so it was critical for me to avoid the pain of creating word lists.
Dealing with New Language? Do It Naturally: Be a Baby
Are babies given word lists to learn their mother tongue right after they are born? No. So why should you be given those? Babies are taught the language in the most natural way: by receiving new words and phrases in particular situations, so they link them with objects and context: they learn the language while experiencing the world. Learning a new language gives you an amazing chance to be a baby again and look at the world around you from a different angle. Every time I start learning a new language I feel like I can start my life again and discover new, often surprising aspects of the things and ideas that used to seem so familiar. Every language has the entire world in it.
So why is it so harmful when we force ourselves to learn in an artificial way? Well, let’s come back to our muffins (or any sexy food you imagined) and try to define if they can be harmful. “Of course, they cannot”, most of the readers would say. Don’t be so fast with the answer! Muffins are not so innocent, they actually can kill you. Imagine you have eaten enough, and now you are full, but you are forced to eat more and more. You are not happy with the muffins anymore, now they are your enemies, they became dangerous and harmful. The same thing happens when you are being fed with words when you do not have a “language hunger”. Such “artificial feeding” when you do not feel the need to use words does not bring you any good outcome. In fact, it makes your brain oppose as it recognizes the words as unnecessary information – informational trash that would just take your memory resources.
You have a completely different reaction when you have the need to use words you don’t know yet. Imagine you are having an international phone call about a critical issue regarding your foreign bank account, and the bank assistant doesn’t understand your mother language. That is when you come out of your comfort zone and take the challenge to protect your customer needs by using your secret weapon – the foreign language you don’t know so well yet. In that case, if you find a word you need in the dictionary and use it to accomplish your mission, your brain will give it much higher importance, and you will memorize it easily. More than that, you will feel satisfied and proud: you are the hero that has defeated his financial interests and has discovered a new useful word. This is the most natural and effective way to learn.
Let’s Stat the Linguistic Journey
I have discovered this magical language learning spell when I started my linguistic trips. In order to learn thinking in a new language rather than translating sentences from my mother tongue while speaking, I started putting myself in the appropriate language environment. Traveling to a country where the desirable language is spoken can bring you impressive results, since you will be learning to develop your communicative skills in a natural way. I am a passionate traveler, translator and language learner, so every time I make a crazy adventurous trip the first thing I try to do is to become local in the place I visit. It gives me an amazing opportunity to discover the culture and learn the language in an entertaining way. In Loco Local Notes I will tell my readers about all the adventures I have had, so we can have fun together. I really want to show you how fun language learning can be, so you can enjoy its beauty same as I do.