Myth and reality about language learning.

 

It´s no secret that learning languages it´s a field of great current interest. Much has been theorized and many routes have been created. Let´s analyze some of the ideas with most standing:

 

Languages are learnt at the school.

That is not true. The most efficient way of learning a language is at home, where they are acquired by immersion. How did we learned our native language? Where did we learn it? . Let´s replicate the same system with a second language.

Spanish schools tend to teach English like the ones in Sweden or Finland.

False. In those countries, English teaching starts ad mid primary level, just three or four hours per week; while in Spain, the tendency is to start in Kindergarten with 12 hours a week. The methods differ but also the results, which are way better on those countries. How is that possible?

Ok, but only  richer countries than us get to that level

No, it doesn´t depend on a socio-economic factor. Such different countries like Sweden, Portugal, Netherlands, Greece or Slovenia have much better results than Spain. All of them have in common that they don´t dub contents on TV. Other countries like Spain, Italy and France do it, so we deal with the same problem regarding the level of English.

UE studies show that the decisive factor is the exposure of kids to content on the foreign language, not the socio-economic status of the family.

This matter is for the School or the Academy, us parents can´t do much about it.

It´s just the opposite, what happens at home is the key. Basically, it´s up to us parents!. That´s precisely what happens in Sweden or Finland, when they get to the learn it at the school, they already understand English.

 

...a language is learnt by knowing the grammar rules and studying vocabulary.

No!. It´s good that both science and practical experience have debunked this myth long time ago. Have you ever thought about how did you learned your mother tongue?. You started by listening, listening and listening. Then you started pronouncing some words, and by the time that you got to school you already knew how to speak!. Over there they taught you more vocabulary and also  to read and  write, but not to speak or understand your language. Then why do we do it in reversal when we learn another language?

 

Only by travelling abroad can you really solve this problem

It´s a solution, but it´s not the best and it´s not the cheapest for sure. To "solve the problem" you´ll need at least a one year long stay, and if you do it when adult, you most probably will carry your accent around. Sending your child away  can be quite expensive, without even considering possible adaptation troubles, breaking of friendships and many other social aspects to consider.

 

My child has to get bored and put a lot of effort to learn English ( or anything else)

No way!. Again it´s the opposite, when they are having fun is when they learn the most. When there is no effort and something catches their attention, then it´s when they really learn.

Change places with them, would you learn anything if you were absolutely  bored by it?. They can learn a language enjoying it  and with no effort...I´ve seen it ( I am a parent like you) and I would love that you could peep through a hole and see the results achieved with my own children

 

Ok, if I don´t speak English I won´t be able to talk to them and they won´t learn it.

This has nothing to do with the parent´s level of English. Obviously it helps, the more exposure, the more natural and relaxed is the learning atmosphere the better. The fact that you don´t speak the language doesn´t mean that they won´t. There are many experiences regarding this, but one clear example is the way the children of immigrants arriving at Spain are learning the language. They speak like true native speakers while their parents find it really difficult and carry a really strong accent.

I don´t believe it...what are you selling?

Look, I´ve walked the path that you are about to start. I´ve seen the results. I thought....ok, if it doesn´t work I will sign them up to an after school English academy, or I´ll send them to study abroad ( if I have the money, if I  get to keep my job...). I´d love that you could listen to my daughter´s kindergarten teacher say: "I´ve never seen any student with such a level in English at such a young age!"