I find myself taking a lot of lessons from kindergarteners, and language learning is one of them. I don’t think that adults are necessarily much worse language learners than kids, but we do have several disadvantages:
- Kids who learn foreign languages usually study for many years, including being fully immersed
- Kids are free when they speak; they are not inhibited by feeling self-conscious
- When one learns a language at a young age, it is usually done through immersion in conversation and by learning from everyday situations, books, and interactions, instead of from grammar lessons and lectures
- Children who are in a sink-or-swim situation are very motivated; for example they might have to learn a language to succeed in school or make friends
I took a French class in the fall and felt that I learned very little from it. I was really disappointed for a while, until I realized that the reason why I got so little from the class was because I learned so much French elsewhere. So I’ve decided not to continue with lessons, because I want to learn French like a kindergartener. However, since I cannot quite put myself in that situation, and because I have the benefit of another 20 years of life, I am going to try to expedite the process.
I don’t have many years just for learning French, but I do have plenty of opportunities for immersion (and to put myself in sink-or-swim situations!), and I can choose my own songs, books, and movies to move myself forward. I also have the benefit of having studied other languages and understanding grammar. At the moment, I have decided to focus on which tenses people use when they talk so that I can improve how I conjugate verbs. So that is my plan of how to learn from my students, but also take advantage of the fact that I am not three. I’ll let you know how it goes!