外语学习中的7种常见误区
大耳朵英语  http://www.bigear.cn  2008-10-17 11:40:42  【打印

外语学习中的7种常见误区

7 Common Misconceptions About Language Learning
by Steve Kaufmann


There are over 6,000 languages in the world. Some are more important than others, not better or more advanced, just more important. Why? Because they are spoken by more people, in more countries. That does not mean that Finnish is not important to the Finns, and Maori is not important to the Maoris. It is just that these languages are not so important to the rest of us.



On the other hand, Mandarin Chinese is spoken by over one billion people. Chinese origin words account for 60% of Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese vocabulary. Knowing Chinese will help you learn these languages too. It helped me. Chinese culture has influenced the world for thousands of years with its art, philosophy, technology, food, medicine and performing arts. Today China’s economy is booming. Chinese seems well worth learning.



Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese are essentially dialects of the same language. If you learn one, you can learn the others. I did. If you learn Spanish, you open the door to the culture, music, history and possible business dealings with 800 million people in 60 countries, including the US and Canada.



If you get ambitious you could try Russian, as I have been doing for the last two years. Once you have Russian you can probably communicate with other Slav speakers.



But hold it here! Before getting carried away, let’s look at the present situation of language teaching. According to one Canadian survey, after 12 years of daily French classes, only one high school graduate out of 147 (0.68%) achieved “intermediate” proficiency. Another survey of immigrants learning English in the US showed that “classroom instructional hours” had little impact on progress.



If we cannot teach our own official languages in North America, what hope is there for other languages like Chinese or Spanish, let alone Russian, Arabic or Hindi?
As a speaker of 10 languages I know the benefits of speaking more than one language. We simply have to change the way we go about teaching languages. To start with we need to dispel seven common misconceptions about language learning.

1. Language learning is difficult
It is only difficult to learn a language if you don’t want to. Learning a language takes time, but is not difficult. You mostly need to listen and read. Believe me, it is that simple. I have done it many times. Soon you feel the satisfaction of understanding another language. Before you know it you start speaking. It is the way languages are usually taught that makes language learning hard to like.



2. You have to have a gift for learning languages
No you don’t. Anyone who wants to, can learn. In Sweden and Holland most people speak more than one language. They can’t just all be gifted at languages. Foreign athletes in North America usually learn to speak English faster than people in more formal learning environments. In language learning it is attitude, not aptitude, that determines success.



3. You have to live where the language is spoken
Some immigrants to North America never learn to speak more than halting English. Yet we meet people in other countries who speak flawless English. In 1968, I learned to speak Mandarin fluently while living in Hong Kong, where few people spoke it. With the Internet, language content is available to anyone with a computer, and you can download it to your iPod and listen. Where you live is not an obstacle.



4. Only children can learn to speak another language well
Recent brain research has demonstrated that our brains remain plastic well into old age. Adults who lose their eyesight have to learn a new language, braille, for example. Adults have a wide vocabulary in their own language and are better language learners than children. I have learned 4 languages since the age of 55. Adults only need the child’s willingness to experiment and desire to communicate, without the fear of ridicule.



5. To learn a language you need formal classroom instruction
This is the crux of the problem. Classrooms may be economical to run and a great place to meet others. They have the weight of history and tradition behind them. Unfortunately, a classroom is an inefficient place to learn a language. The more students in the class, the more inefficient it is. Languages cannot be taught, they can only be learned. Theoretical grammatical explanations are hard to understand, hard to remember, and even harder to use. Drills and exercises are annoying to most people. A majority of school kids graduate unable to communicate in languages that they study for 10 or more years.



6. You need to speak in order to learn (and I have nobody to speak to)
Speaking the language is usually the goal of language learning, but speaking can wait. Once you have acquired the language, you will find the opportunity to speak. When you are learning the language it is more important to listen. Trying to just pick up a few “handy” phrases to say is likely to just get you into trouble. If you meet a native speaker, you will inevitably spend most of your time listening unless you already know the language. You do not need to speak in order to learn, you need to learn in order to speak.



7. I would love to learn but I don’t have the time
How about the time you spend waiting in line, commuting, doing things around the house, going for a walk? Why not use that time to listen to a language on your iPod? Once you get started, even 10 or 15 minutes a day will soon grow to 30 minutes a day, or one hour. If you believe you will achieve significant results, and if you enjoy doing it, as I do, you will find the time.



外语学习中的7种常见误区

简介
大部分人在学习外语的过程中都会存在着一些错误的想法,这篇文章举出了其中最常见的7种误区。

在这个地球上大约有着超过6000种不同的语言。其中的一些语言往往要比其他的语言更为重要,这并不是因为它们是一种更高级的语言。为什么?因为相比其他的语言,这些语言有着更广泛的使用人群。当然,这并不是说芬兰语对芬兰人来说不重要、毛利语对毛利人来说不重要。只是因为这些语言对于地球上其他的人们来说,它们并不是那么重要。

另一方面来说,地球上有超过10亿人在使用中国普通话。在日语、韩语和越南语的词汇中,有60%都是来自于汉语。因此学习汉语对于你学习这几种语言也是有帮助的。中国文化通过艺术、哲学、科技、食物、医学已经影响整个世界几千年了。当今的中国经济正在持续发展,这样看起来汉语是很值得我们去学习的一门外语。

从本质上来说,西班牙语、法语、意大利语和葡萄牙语属于同一语系。如果你学会了其中的一种,那么剩下的对你来说也很简单。至少对我来说是这样子。学习西班牙语等于你打开了一扇门,在门的另一面是分布在60个不同国家中的8亿西班牙语使用者,其中包括美国和加拿大。

如果你很有抱负的话你可以试着学习下俄语,正如我过去的两年中所做的一样。当你学会了俄语之后,也许可以与其他的使用斯拉夫语言的人们交流。

但是这里要打断一下!在你进入状态之前,让我们先来看看目前的语言教学形势。一个加拿大人的调查表明,在经历了12年的日常法语课程教学之后,一所高中里只有147人(约0.68%)能够达到“中等”水平。另一个有关美国外来移民学习英语的调查表明,“课堂教学”对语言学习的提高并没有太大作用。

如果我们连自己的官方语言教学都搞不好的话,那么对于别的语言来说希望在哪里?譬如汉语或者西班牙语,更别提俄语、阿拉伯语或者印度语了。

作为一名掌握了10种语言的语言学习者,我很清楚学会更多的语言所带来的好处。但是我们应该改变一下目前的语言教学方式。开始之前我们需要先驱除有关语言学习的7种常见误区。

误区1、学习外语是一件很困难的事情
只有当你不想去学的时候它才会成为一件困难的事情。学习外语并不困难,它只是需要时间。大部分时间你需要做的是听和读。相信我,就是这么简单。我已经这样做了很多次。不久之后你就会因为理解了另一种语言而感到满足。

误区2、你必须要有学习外语的天赋
不。不需要天赋。只要你想学,你就没问题。在瑞典和荷兰,大部分人都至少掌握了2种语言。他们不可能每个人都具有语言天赋吧?与那些在常规学习环境下学习英语的人们相比,从国外来到北美的运动员学习英语的速度更快。态度决定一切,在语言学习中也是如此。

误区3、你必须生活在使用那种语言的地方
我们可以看到,一些来到北美的移民在居住很久之后依然说着蹩脚的英语,而在另一些非英语国家却有人说着流利的英语。1968年,我在香港学会了一口标准的普通话,虽然在那里很少有人讲普通话。通过互联网你可以下载到很多听力资源进行练习。不管你住在哪里,这都不会成为你学习语言的障碍。

误区4、只有儿童才能很好的掌握一门外语
最近一个有关大脑的研究表明,即使在我们年纪很大的时候,我们的大脑依然保持着它的可塑性。譬如,那些在成年后失去视力的人们必须要学习一种新的语言:盲文。与儿童相比,成年人有着更大词汇量,他们是更好的语言学习者。在我55岁之后我又掌握了4门外语。在外语学习中,成年人所需要的是儿童那种对沟通的渴望,自发的尝试,以及对嘲笑的免疫。

误区5、你需要通过正规的课堂教学来学习一门外语
这个就是问题的关键。在课堂上你可以轻装上阵,这里也是一个认识别人的好地方。不幸的是,课堂教学并不是一种有效的语言学习方式。教室里的学生越多,学习的效率越低。语言不是被“教”会的,它们只能被“学“会。语法的种种理论让人难以理解,难以记忆,甚至难以使用。绝大多数人都不会喜欢那些课后练习题。有很大一部分学生,学习一种语言10年或者更久的时间,但是当他们毕业之后却无法使用这种语言与人沟通交流。

误区6、学习外语你必须要注重口语练习(而我却是一个人,没有人陪我练习口语)
说外语通常外语学习的主要目的,但是这个目标可以先缓缓。一旦你学会了这门语言,你就会很容易找到说这门语言的机会。当你学习一门外语的时候,”听“的重要性要更高一些。如果你遇到一个说这门外语的人,很有可能在你们的交流过程中你的大部分时间都是在”听“,除非你已经掌握了这门外语。你没有必要为了学外语而去”说“外语,你应该是为了更好的”说“而去学外语。


误区7、我很想去学一门外语但是我没有时间
你花费在排队、上下班、散步上的时间有多少?为什么不在这些时间里听听你IPOD里的听力练习。一旦你开始,从最初的每天10分钟或者15分钟,很快就会变成每天30分钟,或者1个小时。如果你相信你会得到一些有意义的收获,或者你能从中得到快乐,就像我一样,那么你肯定能挤出时间来学习外语。


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