Aprender idiomas es, sin comparación posible, lo mejor que puedes hacer para perfeccionar la capacidad de pensar con claridad. Tim Ferriss
Autor:Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins – http://endor.hsutx.edu/~obiwan/articles/langhowtolearn.html
The learning cycle (GLUE)
University classes perhaps offer the easiest and most often followed of all the forms of language learning. It is debatable whether it actually teaches you the language fluently.
However, it might just work for you. It is appropriate for those who desire to have accountability in their learning process. Those who work well in a class structure should use this method. However, you should be aware of the down sides of taking university classes. They focus primarily on reading and writing the language. Spoken and comprehension is often neglected in the class setting, making the student great at reading, but helpless in understanding a native speaker, or communicating with a native speaker. In addition, class sizes are often large and impersonal, leaving the student very little one on one time.
Language schools, similar to universities, focus on teaching language. Often language schools have smaller classes, and during the summer months, they have 4-week intensive classes.
The LAMP (Language Acquisition Made Practical) method is a little known, but is a powerful method in learning languages, especially in places where language classes do not exist. It focuses on building language in relationships rather than formal language class settings. It focuses on conversational and comprehension of the language first. If you are one of those who can make themselves work on a language without the accountability of a teacher or class, this method is for you. In LAMP, the learner is in fact the language teacher. The learner works with native language speakers, learning form, function, and pronunciation of the language. This is not a good way to learn a language for those who cannot make themselves focus on the task of language learning.
One of the more interesting and fun ways to learn a language is to find a language partner. A language partner is often a native speaker that you pay to help you two or three hours a day. Be sure to select a language partner you work well with, and they have a good accent. You do not want to end up speaking a dialect. In addition, it is important that you distinguish between a language helper and a language teacher. Your language partner is not a teacher. They do not create the lesson plans, the learner does. You use them as you would a book. You can record their pronunciation on tape so you can practice later at home, go through a language book with them as you to help you follow a lesson plan, or you can have your language partner travel throughout the city with you explaining cultural antidotes. You can do many things with a language partner. You can try out several things including getting a book to use with your language partner. There are many books out there. The Language Partner method is similar to the LAMP method, however you may use language books to supplement your learning and to help you create lesson plans. Whereas the LAMP method assumes these tools are unavailable.
All of these ways of learning a language are good in their own way. Often they over lap and the learner can use more than one style to learn the language fluently both grammatically and conversationally. It is important for the language learner to know how they learn, and if their goal is to learn a language grammatically correct, conversationally correct, or both.
The concept of Bonding can be explained with the illustration of two doors. When you enter a new country and culture, you will use either the first or the second door.
This door can be called the expatriate door. When you land at the airport, a person from the expatriate community will be the first person to meet you. This person will guide you to your house or apartment. The apartment will be equipped in ways that are appreciated by expatriates, from the furniture to the food in the refrigerator. Other expatriates will explain to you where to go shopping, how to find your way around town, where to go for relaxation or fun, how to meet helpful people, etc. You will feel quite comfortable, because these people speak your language, and they can identify with your needs.
This door is the national door. When you land at the airport, a person from the local culture and language will be the first to meet you. You will live with a local family for a few weeks or months. They will show you where to go shopping, how to find your way around town, where to go for relaxation or fun, how to meet helpful people, etc. You will not feel very comfortable immediately, but you will learn the culture from the inside, and you will be able to use the local language very soon.
You can, or will, make an interesting observation: the door you use the very first day will determine how you will relate to the local culture in the future. If you use the expatriate door, the local people will probably perceive you as foreign, and you will probably perceive them as strange. Learning the local culture and language will take a special effort and may not even take place.
If you take the national door, you will be perceived by the nationals as being one of them, even if some differences will never disappear. This illustration and comparison might be extreme in your eyes. When you apply for a new job and go to the first interview, you are concerned about making a good first impression. Why is this the case? Because the first impression often determines how a relationship develops. In Germany, the findings of Konrad Lorenz have become very famous. This scientist experimented with ducklings. If he was present when the ducklings came out of the egg, they would follow him as their mother. Bonding between him and the animals took place at a specific moment, i.e. at the beginning of the life of these ducklings. Likewise, when you enter a new culture, the first few days are critical for making that first impression.
Language learning through direct contact and exposure takes a lot of motivation and discipline. At the same time you will have plenty of contacts and opportunities for learning every day! Methods are available to approach language learning through bonding in a systematic way, developing techniques and aptitudes. One such method is called LAMP (Language Acquisition Made Practical).
http://www.triviumpursuit.com/trivium_loop/hsing_w_trivium_99.html As a missionary who has already learned one language, French, and is working on her second, Khmer, I would like to respond to the question, If you could learn only one foreign language, which would you choose? First and foremost, ask God. He knows the plans He has for you and for your children. Language learning can be an exciting ministry! More on that in a moment. Bathe your choice in prayer, and anticipate the Shepherd's sure guidance. Don't be too uptight about making the right choice. Any language study is beneficial. Perhaps a beginning in Mandarin Chinese that you drop, will turn out to be a springboard to a successful attack on another language. Don't be too quick to label attempts as failures. Remember that speaking a language is more of a performance skill than a cognitive skill. Learning to speak a language is more like practicing basketball than studying history. (Language Acquisition Made Practical, Brewster and Brewster) Another comparison that can be made is that of learning to drive a car. One can become quite a good driver without ever coming to an understanding of how the car actually works. In beginning language study, the keys are to listen, listen, listen, and then use what little you know. At this stage grammar, except perhaps to help explain the more difficult constructions, is more a hindrance than a help. It tends to make us slip into our academic, left-brained mode where we abandon the more intuitive right brain. As we move into advanced study, including reading and writing as well as verbal expression, we of course rely more heavily on the structures of the language and employ our heads in ambi-brained delight. (You can tell I like that part!) Take into account your surroundings. It is very difficult to learn a language unless you can spend some time in it. What language groups can you find in your area? You may have to turn over a few stones to answer that. In my husband's home town in the States a large French company employs many native French who come to live in the States for awhile. My friend's son in Texas learned Spanish in a very short time by using what he learned in Spanish class with the Mexican field workers he came in contact with on his farm job. If you are able to find some native speakers to help you, language learning can become a ministry. We have found that as we come to people asking for their help, and acknowledging their worth, they accept us much more readily than if we were coming as missionaries to teach. As we are humble servant-learners, they invite us into their hearts.