How to learn a foreign language?
I noticed that many of the topics on this discussions list revolve around the question of how to learn a language. Instead of repeating my comment multiple times to each discussion, I thought perhaps I would share my tuppence worth here.
Language acquisition is a process, just like any other knowledge acquisition. The question relating to efficiency and effectiveness of the process depends on several key factors. One of which is the learner's strength and weakness. For example, I find that Chinese tend to learn by sight, and Arabs tend to learn by sound. Before you learn something, you need to learn how to learn best.
Proficiency is a relative concept, in my mind. Do you want to be proficient in daily conversations only, or in technical/academic writing? Different goals require different strategies.
I think motivation has a big impact on the result. Are you passionate about learning the language, or are you expected to learn it?
English is not my mother tongue, but then I am actually not fluent in my mother tongue. When I was young, I learned English (as well as other languages) by rote. I was not very smart, and the method was definitely not effective. Luckily, I migrated to Canada, and thus my environment helped me to internalize the language. But that only gave me a rudimentary grasp of the language. To advance my command of the language to the level where my style of writing/speech reflects my personality, and where I can add flare or humour as I wish to my writing/speech, does require a bit of effort. This is the phase where I pick and choose the methods that are more effective and efficient for me to gain proficiency. And I have to say that motivation is a great driving force in achieving the outcome I want, as I am very passionate about the English language.
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