Successful language learning: learning from the children

The fundamental elements of learning a language are only a few: being exposed to it by hearing lots of it and putting it into practise by speaking at any opportunity are two of them. But the most important is a fearless and trusting mind.

When I was at school, I studied German for years, however, the only phrase I can say is ‘und so weiter’, which means etcetera. But why after so many years can I only say such a useless phrase? This is because it is the only phrase that my teacher used to say in German when teaching us. We never got to hear much German nor did we speak it in class.
These are clearly great disadvantages when learning a language as hearing it continuously in context underpins learning. Speaking it is another pillar of a successful methodology. Our adults and children classes are taught in the target language and are given plenty of opportunities for speaking.
Children, unlike adults, are less preoccupied with understanding every single word, so long as they can follow the general meaning, they will be interested. Their attitude generates a virtuous circle, the more they hear then the more they understand. This is the natural way of learning our mother tongue. Context is most important, for example, if the child doesn’t know what the word ‘apple’ means, if the parent holds an apple in their hand as they talk, the child will learn the word.
Adult learners have the same ability but most tend to question and focus on what they don’t understand. They demand to understand every single word and feel lost when they don’t. In the previous example, they hear a sort of ‘bla, bla, bla, mela’ and rather than focus on the meaning of ‘mela=apple’ which is clear from the context, they focus on the ‘bla, bla, bla’. This becomes exhausting and ineffective.
Successful adult learners trust themselves and have a mental openness similar to that of children. They are fearless and let the language soaks into their mind, capturing the essentials and more. If you are interested in learning a language, let the children teach you to be fearless.

Our new Italian classes for children and adults start soon. For more info please visit: www.parlaitaliano.co.uk, email laura@parlaitaliano.co.uk or phone 07941092593