Language Learning: The Ultimate Strategy

Published 8th October 2013
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Recent reports about the state of language learning in Britain can more or less be summed up thus: ‘AAARGH! SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!’ So, within the time it took to drink my Morning Mug of Tea, I devised the ULTIMATE LANGUAGE LEARNING STRATEGY, which is simply:

Learn languages as part of your other hobbies, or in combination with other things you are learning.

Tada! It’s that easy. So easy, that I’m sure I’m not the only one who has thought of it.

Do you like painting? Great! So, why not learn colours in your chosen language(s)? Then you could move on to the words for your painting equipment – paintbrush, easel, and so on. Perhaps then you could get on to learning adjectives to describe your favourite paintings and how they make you feel, or nouns to describe what’s in them. You’ll soon realise what verbs and other bits and pieces you’re missing in order to build sentences, and then you can discover grammar! Is there an equivalent of ‘The Joy of Painting’ in your chosen language? YouTube it and find out! Find painting forums in your language online and try and join the discussion! Same goes for gardening, knitting, watching cat videos on the internet- whatever you love, combine it with a second language.

This could also be applied to language teaching in schools – combine languages with every lesson, and pupils aren’t going to just look at language learning as something confined to double French after P.E. It’ll be some French, all day, every day, even if it’s just in the form of multilingual wall displays. And I know that there’s bound to be at least ONE subject pupils enjoy, so if they have a way to apply their French lessons to, let’s say, art, before they start GCSEs, they might be more likely to carry it on once they decide they’d like to be an architect and realise that having a joint honours degree in French and architecture will absolutely guarantee them a job in a few years (maybe). I’m not saying all teachers should know all the languages, I’m just saying there could be more mutual cooperation between languages and the rest of the curriculum, starting in primary schools.

So, following my language learning strategy of the future, once children are learning languages in combination with their other subjects, and taking their joint honours Engineering/German, French/Law, Chinese/Business Studies degrees, they will then trot off happily to work at home or abroad as successful engineers, lawyers, businesspeople, etc., and possibly end up on Lingua Translations’ database of highly skilled translators and interpreters. There they will help our UK businesses to grow and widen their international markets with their awesome linguistic talent.

And all because their primary school teacher put a bit of [insert language(s) here] on their science displays when they were first learning about magnets or cloning or whatever they learn in school these days.

Okay, now that’s sorted, I’ll move on to vanquishing poverty or something.

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