Time to get back to basics and explain why language acquisition works so well over language learning. If your new to us, welcome to a new way of speaking English fluently and if you’re a regular listener, hello, and jump in and listen and learn your way to better English.
We’ve had a lot of fun over the last couple of days and now it’s that time of the year to get back into the regular rhythm of day-to-day life. For many of us that means back to school, college or work. For us at Adept English it means back to thinking about our podcast English lessons, working on the new website launch and getting excited about our new English pronunciation course.
If your learning to speak English fluently then it means getting back into the habit of listening to Adept English. So don’t procrastinate, don’t use excuses there is very little reason not to put on your headphones and listen to our free English lessons and listen to us for better English.
Man's task is to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious.
⭐ Carl Jung, Psychologist
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Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English, your English Learning online resource. And it’s the first one for the new year - so Happy New Year, Happy 2020. And the first podcast of a new decade as well. A ‘decade’, D-E-C-A-D-E – means 10 years. So 2020 is a new decade.
Use Your Brain For Language Acquisition Smart Learning For English Ep 291 Article Image
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Description: A photograph of people at a new year party celebrating the start of 2020, explaining why acquisition is better than learning for English.
So I hope that your new year celebrations went well. I thought that for this first podcast for 2020 we might go ‘back to basics’ and talk about second language acquisition, as that is what you are here for! What is second language acquisition? Well ‘second language’ means a new language, not your mother tongue, not your first language. And when we talk about ‘language acquisition’, we mean that the language ‘becomes yours’, ‘it becomes your own language’, part of you. If you ‘acquire a language’ it means that this language becomes automatic. The word ‘acquisition’, A-C-Q-U-I-S-I-T-I-O-N is a noun and it means that you gain something. To use the related verb you ‘acquire’ something’ - it’s a more formal way of saying ‘you get something’.
So we would talk about children ‘acquiring language’. So ‘language acquisition’ is unconscious, it happens without you being aware, without purposeful learning. It’s what happens when you learn language naturally. The word ‘unconscious’, U-N-C-O-N-S-C-I-O-U-S is an adjective and it describes a process or an effect which we’re not aware of, which we don’t realise is happening. And the opposite of ‘unconscious’ is ‘conscious’, C-O-N-S-C-I-O-U-S, which means it’s something we are aware of it. So really what Adept English is primarily here to help you with is that unconscious, automatic learning, which is called ‘language acquisition’. This is different from the conscious and purposeful language learning which you do in a classroom and on your language course. Learning, for English homework say, a list of vocabulary is ‘conscious language learning’ and recognising and understanding a new phrase, in context because you heard it a number of times – that is ‘unconscious language acquisition’. The second one is much less work, much easier.
If you’re finding Adept English is helping you to increase your understanding of spoken English, then this is because it’s helping your language acquisition, your unconscious learning. For English language, of course. While you’re listening to an article on some other topic, your brain, the machine in your head is busy acquiring English. You don’t necessarily even know that this is happening. Sometimes we do cover grammar in podcasts, partly to help your conscious language learning on the parts which are difficult. But the idea even here is that you also listen to the podcast a number of times, until the form of the grammar begins to sound familiar. I also give you lots of examples usually – so again, you gain a sense of what the words should sound like, what sounds right.
So this is the most important type of language learning, if you want to understand and speak the English language fluently and naturally. I’m sure in your own language, if you hear someone make a grammar error, it just sounds wrong. You wouldn’t automatically analyse their grammar, you’d just know what the correct words were. When incorrect grammar just sounds bad, just sounds wrong – well, that means you’ve acquired the language. It’s become your own. So learning English grammar automatically, without thinking about it is the best way.
So what helps ‘language acquisition’ as opposed to forced and conscious ‘language learning’? Well, it’s the input to your brain that’s the most important in this type of language learning. ‘Input’, I-N-P-U-T means what comes in, as opposed to ‘output’, which is ‘what comes out’. So what I’m meaning here is that in order for you to acquire the English language, you need to focus on what you feed into your brain, what comes into your brain. So listening and reading are much more important to this process than are speaking and writing – they’re outputs. At least, that’s true initially. And of the two, listening plays much more into the unconscious learning, than does reading, though both are helpful and important. If you can understand and speak, being able to read and write is much easier. But it’s harder to get from being able to read and write a language to understanding and speaking it. This is the mistake that many traditional language courses make.
If you look at the way we all learned our first language, listening began the day we were born. And we did a huge amount of listening in the first couple of years of our lives which allowed our understanding to grow – and eventually we started to speak! Only when we went to school, long after we’d learned to understand and speak, did we finally learn to read and write. So given that this way of learning worked for us with our own language, then why would we try to achieve fluency in a second language using reading and writing first of all, as the main way? And why would your English lessons be given in any language other than English?
Another word for ‘unconscious’ - remember that describes when something’s happening, but you don’t know that it is? Another word for unconscious is ‘implicit’, I-M-P-L-I-C-I-T – and ‘implicit learning’ is what children do as they’re learning language. It’s also what we can do as adults do. When we come across new words in our own language, perhaps because we’re working with new technology, or we’re working in a different industry, which has a whole new set of vocabulary for us to learn. We learn these new words, we adopt these new terms all the time – and it’s fairly easy for us because they’re in context. It’s really no effort - it’s not like learning English vocabulary lists for your homework. It’s also a little like learning the words to a song. If you hear a song enough times, learning the words is ‘implicit learning’ - it happens automatically and it takes very little effort. Suddenly you just know the words!
This is also what happens if you are learning a language and you go to live in a country which speaks that language. Sometimes people find it difficult because they’re not quite at the level which is necessary for conversation. And this method of learning, for English especially, is difficult if you know very little vocabulary and grammar. Basic English learning is needed first, before context and listening can help. But once you’re at this basic level, the key thing then is being exposed to the language being spoken. ‘Exposed’ means you hear it all the time. That’s the way that people learn – and this is reflected in the ‘Listen and Learn’ method that we use here at Adept English.
If you would like more insight into the process of becoming fluent in a language, then sign up for our FREE English language course, The Seven Rules of Adept English. Here I share with you the secrets of language learning. And this course is completely free – that’s free English learning online. Just go to our website at adeptenglish.com and sign up for this free course, with your email address.
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The course includes audio, video and transcripts, so that you can follow the words, just like with the podcasts. And don’t forget – you can subscribe to Adept English on YouTube Channel, if you would like to see the words as you listen. That’s really helpful when you’re learning English!
So let’s hope that 2020 is a really good language learning year for us all. Best wishes for 2020! Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.