The Natural Way of Learning
One of the most basic aspects of life is learning, we start learning the moment we are born, the first thing we learn is how to breathe and after that, the learning process just keeps going on. On most families kids grow up listening to just one language and that language becomes what we call as mother tongue or native language, this language is the one that the kid will always hold on into and have it as his/her primary language, so we as English teachers in foreign countries have to be aware of this, because this native language is going to have a huge impact on the learning process of the students, for example if you are teaching in a class that the student’s native language has a different grammar or alphabet compared to English, it can mean that they will have a harder time learning grammar than other countries with a similar grammar.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Gustavo F. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Our 1st language doesn’t represent the learning process for learning a 2nd and 3rd language, that happens because we naturally learn our 1st language, we don’t take classes, or courses to learn it, we just learn it by observing and listening. Of course, that later on we will probably attend schools and have classes about our 1st language, but by the time get there we already know how to speak.
So, in the student’s mind the first thing that they will try to do when facing a new language is translation, because for him/ her the structure his/her language is the same as his native one, and often translation it's not the best way to get around a new language, because there are a lot of different concepts or different ideas that on his/her native language it would not make sense. But when they realize that the other language has different structures and simply translation will not work as they thought it would, that's when the learning process starts.
The learning process can be really challenging, principally learning a second language, at first the students see themselves a bit lost with all this new information, that’s why teachers in beginner levels have to be really careful and patient with new students, because the first contact with a second language has a huge impact on the way the student will develop him/herself. As time goes by and students start to understand the new language structure, the second language starts to make sense.
We can know a whole lot about someone’s native language by the way he/she speaks a second language, that's why it's important for teachers to make the learning of a second language as natural as possible, because it will make students realize that a new language even though can have similarities, learning a new language is not about translation.
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Unfortunately, it's really hard for teachers to reproduce the natural way of learning language, because the students already have some kind of presumption about learning a second language, but like any kind of learning, language learning is like a curve, in the beginning, it starts a bit slow but once the students get used to the new language, the learning process goes a lot faster.
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