Wednesday, March 31, 2010
the hodgepodge method of language learning
Results will vary!
That's right. Your results will not be exactly the same as those of someone else. For obvious reasons, one hodgepodge follower can not replicate the exact steps of another hodgepodger. Some will, unfortunately, have disastrous results that lead to giving up after a lot of effort has been expelled.
Yet another may stumble across an activity that helps propel them forward and keep going. For those who don't give up, they reach a stage of communicative ability in the target language. This ability to communicate and carry on conversations is, at times, mistaken for fluency. At other times, it is realized that fluency has not truly been reached. When feeling the need to justify all the time spent learning the language, the learner will say he is fluent, especially to those beginners or non-learners who cannot verify the claims for themselves.
This behavior is not so much to be frowned upon as it is to be considered normal. However, the unfortunate and somewhat to be expected outcome is that the hodgepodge method becomes the advice of the well-intended and ever-so friendly so-called successful language learner.
Techniques that prove to be of little use to others are justified by the benevolent label, "learning styles." Claims that "we all learn differently" are all too readily accepted in language learning conversation circles. Yet no one has ever claimed to learn their first language differently.
Regrettably, the notion that one must learn the language forever is reinforced by those successful learners who love to say, "I am still learning." They latch on to the self-pardoning claim that you'll "never be as good as a native." And to them, the window of opportunity for native-like pronunciation has already closed.
It does not occur to the successful hodgepodger that they could actually have reached a higher level with less toil. It is unfathomable to them that one action would have a negative affect on another action. They will not entertain the thought of speaking and understanding a foreign language in the same way and with the same ease that they do in their first language.
From their own experience, the hodgepodge men have figured out how to learn a language. And this is what they are happy with.
For a language learner like myself, the hodgepodge method is unacceptable. We do not want varying results. We all want the same thing. The only standard of speaking a language is the native speaker. This is what we want to reach. This is the only acceptable result.