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longgone's avatar

In what ways could the study of foreign languages in school be improved?

Asked by longgone (14956points) June 26th, 2015

In a recent thread, a jelly pointed out that the best way to learn a language is to have been born to parents speaking it. This is undoubtedly true. It may not be the fastest way, but it definitely yields the best end results.

I’m from Germany. When I was ten, I moved to Korea with my family. I went to an English school. Within a year, my sister and I were almost caught up with native speakers of our age. “Immersion” seems to have been at work, and it worked like a charm.

While now, as an adult, my vocabulary is much less expansive than the typical native speaker’s, the time in Korea did guarantee me effortless As in English for my remaining school years.

Considering how many hours schools spend teaching their students a foreign language, shouldn’t results be more impressive? How could this work?

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9 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

My grade school teacher made a list of French phrases that one can use in school and said that if you want anything from her that you should say it in French. JE neswepasilyuplay sorry auto correct doesn’t like French phrases.

Apparently_Im_The_Grumpy_One's avatar

Start earlier. The schools I went to only had a foreign language elective for two years. Were it started in first grade as a mandatory study it would be just like having bi-lingual parents wouldn’t it?

Mimishu1995's avatar

Focus more on the skills instead of the exercises. Encourage students to actually put their skills into use in real life, not just in exercises. You are learning to speak, not to do exercises.

We started learning English at the age of 7 (I bet students these days even start earlier), but how many of them can actually speak? And one day I was reading something in English when a classmate saw it. She said I was so “dilligent” to use English outside class. It seemed that she only sees English as a chore.

dxs's avatar

Out with the vocab lists and grammar table memorization. That stuff just doesn’t work. Also, it’ll help if the students get more chances to speak it and communicate instead of listening to a teacher speak it the whole time.

keobooks's avatar

I took German in high school (yes, my grandmother was a German refugee, but she was of the ‘melting pot’ era and almost never spoke German while in the U.S.—even with family), and even though I made straight As in the subject, I could barely conduct anything more than a very basic conversation. I could understand it much better than I could speak it, so while I knew what someone was saying, I struggled to figure out how to respond. Even the German equivalent of “How’s it going?” could totally flummox me.

Anyway, I go to Germany to visit relatives who are universally disappointed in my German. My aunt gets this bright idea. She sends me out all by myself with some mail and tells me to take it to the post office. She doesn’t tell me where the post office is. She just tells me to ask people on the streets for directions until I find it. I was not only horrible at speaking German, I’m also really naturally bad at following directions. So I was constantly getting lost and constantly asking people to tell me where to go.

I think I learned more conversational German that afternoon than I did in all those years in high school.

cazzie's avatar

I never had any ambition to learn Norwegian as a kid. I speak it well enough now to get by because I had to for my basic survival. Deep end works wonders.

longgone's avatar

Thanks for your answers. I so agree that we need to make children see why they are learning. The kid I tutor have vocabulary lists which include terms that are entirely useless…my fourteen-year-old is learning how to discuss badminton techniques, and has been learning about netting. She will, of course, forget all those words the instant she’s sat the exam.

talljasperman's avatar

Make French vocabulary an extendition of English.

cazzie's avatar

My kiddo is growing up with two languages and it has only been good for him, especially because his executive function is hindered by autism.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/radical-teaching/201211/bilingual-brains-smarter-faster

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