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Language is not a formula (formula, language is not?)

(After I wrote this, I noticed this entry doesn’t really follow a coherent format, just a combination of –somewhat- connected ideas. Fits the theme perfectly!)

Language textbooks, I am certain, only teach one thing: perfection.

They give the student the idea, the false sense of security, that situations will always play out like the dialogue.

Don’t believe that. Use it as a guide only.

Watch more TV, read more manga (sure, it can be over-exaggerated, but you learn a lot of ‘filler words’, things like “umm” “you know what I mean”, empty phrases to fill time while you think).

Just get a feel for HOW people speak, you don’t necessarily need to understand it. Get that feeling, try and follow the nuances, the pauses and the stuttering. It’ll take you a  lot further than you think.

I used to believe that everything had to be perfect. Grammar: pefect. Sentences: perfect. Vocab: perfect. Textbooks inadvertently teach you this. Tests in class further support what the textbooks throw at you. It kept me so inhibited from actually doing any real work with the language that three years of study became utterly useless when I first arrived in Taiwan. As soon as someone went away from the textbook line, I became lost and frustrated. They also do things by “levels” which is a terrible idea.

Splitting things up by “levels” has to be the worst design for language courses. I have a friend who thinks by “level” because of this. “I’m not at that level yet; I can’t do that yet; I don’t know enough”. Offering classes and books by level keeps students thinking “Well, I’m not there yet, once I get there I can start”. This limits you. Drastically. Stop thinking in levels!

Language is like the Old West: wide open spaces and all you need is to go there and conquer it. Just, you know, without the forced relocation of the natives.

This also leads me to another point: textbooks are not the only source of information. More exposure. Get different sources and different media formats. Keep the information flowing in

That is not to say textbooks aren’t useful, and people have found a way to utilize them. The idea of using them as a reference source? Amazing. Genius.

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