Myth 1: It is too expensive to learn a language.

Where have you been looking? Yes, there are programs out there that promise you that you will be fluent in no time, but the reality is those programs need an excuse to cost an arm and a leg with no real evidence that you will be fluent.  These days all you need to learn a language is some motivation.  There are several (free) resources through technology that can provide you access to another language immediately.  When paying for a program or resource, you are paying for timely feedback and a relationship with someone who will help you pursue your studies and keep you organized.  Their suggestions on personalizing pacing and sequencing can allow you to get to your goal faster.

 

Myth 2: All students learn a language in the same way.

Last time I checked there were seven learning styles so there is no way every student learns a language the same way.  There are some students who prefer hands-on activities and there are authors who soak up every word they hear.  As a parent or teacher, you can help your student identify their learning style and then modify or personalize how they access their content or participate in activities to best learn the language. Some kids will want to play Quizlet for hours while others prefer to hear their instructor speak with a choral response.  Personalization is key to better learning!

 

Myth 3: You need to study grammar.

“Grammar should be addressed within meaningful communicative contexts as one element of language proficiency.  Instead of focusing on grammar rules and diagramming sentences, teachers should guide students towards an understanding of how grammar functions. Students learn how to use the form rather than memorized conjugations that may not be applicable across contexts.” – ACTFL  In order to get a reluctant or nervous learner to speak, they need to be comfortable.  They need to know that it is okay to make mistakes. Many of us don’t speak perfect English, ain’t I right?!?  Isolating grammar makes learners nervous to talk and makes them think about perfection.  Let them talk and no need to correct them every second!  As long as they are understood, we have communication!

 

Myth 4: You can learn a language through books and apps alone.

While technology is great and there are tons of resources out there, language acquisition requires practice.  Practice in skills such as reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  Through books and apps one can really establish and develop reading and writing, but what about listening and speaking?  Access to authentic listening opportunities with native and fluent speakers is important.  How about speaking?  Who are you going to talk to with a book or an app?  Comfort in speaking is HUGE for language learning.  Having a trustworthy and reliable person to help you, guide you, and answer any questions can enhance the learning experience and make it quite successful.

 

Myth 5: People want to learn languages.

Yeah, they do, but… people want to learn languages so they can communicate to other people.  It is not that I want to learn “galleta” means cookie just for the sake of knowing a new word. I want to learn “galleta” so I can order a cookie at a restaurant, shop at a Spanish market, understand a package, order cookies for a work event from a local Spanish bakery, or talk to a Spanish friend about my favorite cookie.  There is always a purpose behind “learning a language.”  It comes down to communication and interaction for practical purposes and human interaction.  I want to connect to other worlds and other people.  That is why people want to “learn a language.”

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