Let us begin, then, with Grammar. This, in practice, means the grammarof some language in particular; and it must be an inflected language. Thegrammatical structure of an uninflected language is far too analyticalto be tackled by any one without previous practice in Dialectic. Moreover,the inflected languages interpret the uninflected, whereas the uninflectedare of little use in interpreting the inflected. I will say at once, quitefirmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I saythis, not because Latin is traditional and mediaeval, but simply becauseeven a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labor and pains oflearning almost any other subject by at least fifty percent. It is thekey to the vocabulary and structure of all the Teutonic languages, as wellas to the technical vocabulary of all the sciences and to the literatureof the entire Mediterranean civilization, together with all its historicaldocuments.
Those whose pedantic preference for a living language persuades themto deprive their pupils of all these advantages might substitute Russian,whose grammar is still more primitive. Russian is, of course, helpful withthe other Slav dialects. There is something also to be said for ClassicalGreek. But my own choice is Latin. Having thus pleased the Classicistsamong you, I will proceed to horrify them by adding that I do not thinkit either wise or necessary to cramp the ordinary pupil upon the Procrusteanbed of the Augustan Age, with its highly elaborate and artificial verseforms and oratory. Post-classical and mediaeval Latin, which was a livinglanguage right down to the end of the Renaissance, is easier and in someways livelier; a study of it helps to dispel the widespread notion thatlearning and literature came to a full stop when Christ was born and onlywoke up again at the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
The College Board released results from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) that stated 4-year foreign language students outscore other students on the verbal and math portions of the SAT by 100 or more points. Studies following foreign language students also found them to be happier in their college studies, more likely to achieve better grades, and less likely to drop out.
I’m currently doing a MOOC (massive open online course) with called Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching. It’s a four week course and is free to do. I know that quite a few people from my PLN, whether on Twitter or Facebook, are doing it too, and the participants represent a range of languages as well as phases.
Now the first thing we notice is that two at any rate of these "subjects"are not what we should call "subjects" at all: they are onlymethods of dealing with subjects. Grammar, indeed, is a "subject"in the sense that it does mean definitely learning a language--at thatperiod it meant learning Latin. But language itself is simply the mediumin which thought is expressed. The whole of the Trivium was, in fact, intendedto teach the pupil the proper use of the tools of learning, before he beganto apply them to "subjects" at all. First, he learned a language;not just how to order a meal in a foreign language, but the structure ofa language, and hence of language itself--what it was, how it was put together,and how it worked. Secondly, he learned how to use language; how to definehis terms and make accurate statements; how to construct an argument andhow to detect fallacies in argument. Dialectic, that is to say, embracedLogic and Disputation. Thirdly, he learned to express himself in language--how to say what he had to say elegantly and persuasively.
I have been lucky to grow up learning languages. Maybe not as many as I may have liked. I am intrigued by people who speak exotic languages, rather than my run of the mill English, Spanish and French. However, my language acquisition was a result of my education, travels and family life.
By activating the right "creative side" of the brain, a much larger portion of the intellectual potential can be tapped, thus drawing out long-term memory. This innovative approach to language pedagogy maximizes the learners' natural holistic talents. Background classical or baroque chamber music, oftentimes accompanied with soft lights, pillows or cushions on the floor for relaxation, accentuate active and passive meditations, séances, yoga, breathing exercises leading into the "alpha state", songs for memorization purposes, therapy sessions and stream-of-consciousness catharsis in the target language with little reliance on English.
Your assessment of higher level language learning is very true. Mimicking native patterns and habits is key to improving your ability. Writing and speaking are also very different, in all languages. In most cases your writing is not going to exactly replicate the way you would speak it, and sometimes writing like you would speak comes out quite strange. As with learning the language in the first place, I think practice, as you suggest, is key. It’s really nice that there are websites to help with your writing, because it can be hard even to get friends to correct your writing, especially if they don’t want to be harsh on you.
Therefore, it comes as no surprise, that a limited number of second languages are taught in schools across the western world, and languages are sometimes failed to be passed on to children growing up in a different country than their parents did.
I believe that too much emphasis is placed on thinking that certain individuals are “gifted” when it comes to language learning. On the same note, I also believe that too many who learn a foreign language are not credited for the effort they put in.
For some people, the ability to speak more than one language is almost taken for granted. For others, the desire to learn a foreign language is something that teases and taunts them throughout their lives.
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