How to keep the fun in language learning!
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • Language Learning Grand Masters

    Posted on December 17th, 2008 Mairo Vergara 3 comments

    guru_nanaYou probably know Michael Jordan, Bruce Lee and Bill Gates, don’t you? Have you ever heard of Tiger Woods, Nadia Comaneci or The Beatles? All those people have something in common: they succeeded in their field/area. They not only succeeded, they succeeded extremely well, so that nowadays they are considered geniuses. What many language learners don’t know is that there are many language learning geniuses out there. Those guys have learned so many languages, they have done so well in theirs studies, they went so hardcore that ended up understand exactly how language and language learning works. It’s almost you duty as a serious language learner to know those guys, at the very least to have heard of them.

    At the university I had taken so many literature classes. In these classes we had to read classical literature, we have to read the works from the masters, the big guys (the unique problem is that there are so many big guys in literature…). In the same way, you have to read/know the big language learning guys. Hopefully they are in minor number than the literature folks. It’s weird why we don’t study those guys at the university. For instance, at least here in Brazil, language students usually have no clue about who is Stephen Krashen. Notice that Krashen should be known since he is in the academic field! But people like Steve Kaufmann or Stu Jay Raj are totally unknown between most of language students. University language teachers should start studying more languages and language learning (and less linguistics) and set up programs that make students aware of all those language masters.

    This is an introduction to a series of articles about the people I call language learning grand masters. We gonna start with Stephen Krashen, since he is quoted by all others grand masters I know. I hope you like it! Stay tuned!

  • Why it must be cool!

    Posted on December 15th, 2008 Mairo Vergara 5 comments

    language-baby-coolToday I want to talk about coolness in language learning. Language is much more than a bunch of words combined in sentences and paragraphs. Language is much more than be able to ask “What time is it now?” or “Where’s the toilet?”. It’s much more than capability to say “I love you” in 24 different languages. All these things are the boring part of language learning. Language is communication. Through language we communicate and interact with people, we tell stories, we share our knowledge. Can you image ourselves without language, without being able to communicate? Almost certainly you can’t, because language is something so inherent to us, that we can’t image ourselves without it.

    As you can see, language is really important and crucial in everyone’s lives, and even when people can’t talk, they find ways of communication. But language is not only important,¬† it’s also damn cool! Why do you talk to other people? Why do you read books? Why do you watch movies and listen to music? Because it’s boring? Of course not! You do all these things for these things are cool! Because it’s interesting, because it makes you laugh, it makes you smart, it pleases you. And if you want to do it in the coolest way, you can do it in different languages! More languages mean more access to the enormous quantity of cool stuff out there. That’s why every language learner should learn English. Because English is so widespread, because there are so many English books, movies, music, articles, blogs, games, etc. To know English means to have access to all this content, to be able to watch Lost without subtitles, to be able to read zillions of super cool blogs, listen to The Beatles, and play World of Warcraft. Not that you can’t do it in other languages, but if you are serious about language learning and want to do something cool with you language skills, I highly recommend you learning your target language and also English.

    All languages give access to cool stuff. If you learn Japanese, you can watch Dragon Ball Z, if you learn French you can read Sartre, if you learn Spanish you can talk to “caliente girls” from Argentina, and so forth. Language is all about fun and cool stuff. As I once said: Cool stuff is at the core of language learning.

    The problem is that our schools, universities and institutions apparently don’t care about it and seem to turn everything in a complete boringness. C’mon! Language classes are one of the most boring things ever! You have to pretend to talk to your classmates about stem cells using the present perfect! You have to read ridiculous texts about a Michal Jackson [I like Jackson’s music, but I have no interest at all in texts about his life or career]. You have to play stupid games in order to memorize the numbers… C’mon again! I ain’t no kid! I do not learn Japanese to play kid’s games inside a classroom with my classmates! I learn Japanese because I want to hang out with my Japanese friends, watch Miyazaky’s anime and listen to Koda Kumi [also watch her]. I want the cool stuff! Not the boring crap!

    Khatzumoto, grand master from AJATT already told us all about it. In order to learn a language you have to surround yourself with the language, and of course with cool stuff in the language. One of the reasons for why I’m writing this blog is that I know it will improve my English writing skills, and also because I like to write, I like to share my ideas through the Internet and see what other people think about it. I write this blog because it’s cool and because it will improve my English. If it wasn’t cool, I probably¬†wouldn’t do it. Moreover, I don’t learn English to write this blog, I write this blog than I learn English.

    My final recommendation for this post is: look for the cool stuff! It varies: some people like music, some people like to read. The important is to find out what you find cool, what you’re are willing to do/read/listen/watch. Just remember the simple rule: if it’s cool, if you want it, and if it’s in your target language, then it’s for you. Now you just have to find tons of cool stuff. The more cool stuff you have, the more you are going to do/read/listen/watch it, therefore the more you are going to learn.