Not Everyone Is A Master Language Learner

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

What’s the connection between culture, class (as in social-capital) and language? Check out this article from The Atlantic, the story of a mid-career, African-American professional enrolling in an intensive language program.

Coates, the author, highlights not only what it means to be an effective language learner in one of the world’s most renowned language programs, but it also touches on the fact that the skills needed for success are gifted to us through our families and upbringing, termed social-capital, and that certain lucky individuals come into these programs as master learners not because they are smarter, but because of their previous learning experiences. This access to social-capital (or lack of) has been documented in university programs across the US for many years now.

The idea that there are ‘master’ language learners among us bears consideration. …Continue Reading

How long does it take to get from advanced to superior?

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

How long will it take you to achieve a superior level?

This is a fair question and deserves a fair answer. It will take you longer to move from the advanced level to the superior level than it did for you to move from the beginner level to the intermediate or advanced level. Once you’ve reached a superior level, the idea is that you will never stop learning as you discover new aspects of the language you need to master!
…Continue Reading

The Difference Between Advanced and Superior

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Most learners can get to an advanced working level in another language in a relatively short amount of time. To get to a comfortable working level, you’ve probably been through an intensive immersion program or taken several years of academic study. Here’s what you should be able to do in your language right now as an advanced learner: …Continue Reading

What Makes a Great Language Learner?

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

This is a variation on an earlier post. Last time I focused on what researchers found to be the traits of highly successful language learners. But what about learners? What do they think?

Here’s what one of my language learners told me are the keys to success:

1. Passionate: As a learner, you have to be passionate about your studies and finding opportunities to use your language.

2. Enthusiastic: From mastering vocabulary to grammar, being enthusiastic keeps you positive over time.

3. Strategic: You don’t need to be a methodologist, but having a strategy for your studies can keep you working towards your goals.

4. Hard-working: Taking the time each day or each week to set aside and focus on building your language skills will lead to success. (Note: He was tell me all of this during over a Skype lesson on his cell phone one Saturday evening while hanging out on his balcony. What a fine example!)

5. Sensitive of your mistakes: Realistically, you know that your going to make many mistakes. Mistakes are a natural part of learning, but being alert to them helps you self-correct.

What do you think? As a language learner, are there other traits which you believe will help you with your learning goals?

More: 5 Characteristics of Great Language Learners


2 Strategies for Older Language Learners

Monday, August 4th, 2014

We know that the verbal skills and social skills remain strong with senior language learners, well into a person’s 70s and 80s (see this post), but these are more general findings towards learning overall.

What about language learning specifically? …Continue Reading