Language Study: It’s Not All Fun!

Ed Trimnell: Language study: It's not all fun!

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Language study: It’s not all fun!…

Now that I have a twitter account dedicated to language resources, @LearnThaiRes, I’ve been adding my favourite tweet people, like David Mansaray @DavidMansaray. Recently David introduced me to Ed Trimnell’s YouTube account: etrimnell.

Ed’s commonsense statements on learning languages drew me to share the below video.

Opinion: Should language study always be fun?…

Ed Trimnell: You’ve no doubt heard a lot of people promise that you can learn a language “without books, study–simply by going out there and speaking.”

This video explains why the most effective way to learn a language is through a combination of immersion and traditional study/translation-based methods.

“This video does not exist”
… don’t you just hate that?

Anyway… what do you think? Should language study always be fun? Is immersion in your target language all it’s cracked up to be? Just what are the hard realities of learning a foreign language? Questions… questions…


4 thoughts on “Language Study: It’s Not All Fun!”

  1. Hi Martyn, seems to me, unless you can find a fun loving ‘other’ who just happens to speak the language of your intent, having fun while learning would be a lot of work to keep up. I mean, how do manage it on a daily basis? Do you intentionally laugh a lot while repeating phrases? Sing silly songs in your target language? Watch comedies in your target language? Because language courses (unless it’s EarWorms and there is no Thai version) are not high up in the ‘I’m having a whole boatload of fun’ category.

    The closest to fun I’ve gotten is learning songs by Cham Chamaram, inviting my cats to conversations in Thai, and laughing at all my silly language snafus (usually with an audience). But the core language learning is real work (interesting as it may be): reading, writing, translating, practicing. I’m enjoying myself, but I’m not getting into many fits of giggles or anything.

  2. Catherine – I think this post relates to the previous one,FLTR: The Foreign Language Text Reader, which was about intensive or extensive reading as methods to learning a language. I’d say language study should have a ratio of fun and immersion with the heavier weighting being on the side of fun. Is it reasonable to say you take more information in when you’re happy rather than when you’re forcibly focused. That’s a tricky one to answer.

  3. Scott,

    live somewhere where they ONLY speak that language, and your ability to eat food depends on your ability to speak the language. You can bet that you’ll pick up the basics in NO time.

    That would do it for me, absolutely. I do not like being hungry! In Thailand, a place such as that would only be found out of the city, or in neighbourhoods off the beaten path. I do come across Thais who do not volunteer English but many know a fair bit.

  4. Learning a language is FAR from being fun. For the most part it’s exasperating and frustrating, as you try to make yourself understood to someone who is trying their best to understand what you are saying in broken language.

    As for the “best way” to learn a language – apart from being born in a place where that language is spoken natively, I have always maintained that the best way (and again – NOT the most fun or the easiest way) is to live somewhere where they ONLY speak that language, and your ability to eat food depends on your ability to speak the language. You can bet that you’ll pick up the basics in NO time.

    That would be total immersion – but even then, you would pick up the level of language that you need to get by in your day-to-day life. For anything else, you would need to study, and try to apply what you learn.

    Learning a language is hard, especially the older you get. And for the most part it is most certainly not fun. However, the rewards can be enormous.


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