Feb 10, 2008, 7:59:53 PM2/10/08
to ESL Podcast
If the first Informed English Student (It's the Verb!) we learned that
most of our language ability comes from language that we
subconsciously acquire (we don't notice it when it happens), not
language that we consciously study.
If that's true - and it is! - how do we acquire language? There is
only one way: by understanding messages, in other words, by reading
and listening to understandable English.
Remember how I compared acquiring language to eating a balanced diet?
I suggested that English learners should treat themselves to a good,
balanced diet of English and trust our minds to acquire the parts of
the English language that it needs when it is ready for them. If you
didn't see that comparison, it's in Informed English Student #2 (First
Let me add to that comparison. When we eat, we are careful - usually!
- to feed our bodies foods they can digest (easily absorb and use). In
the same way, when we want to acquire a language, we must feed our
minds language that our minds can absorb and use.
We only acquire (pick up or absorb) language when we understand what
we read or listen to. If we understand what we read or hear, our minds
will acquire the elements of the new language that we are ready for.
We don't have to consciously study them.
Many students believe they have to work hard to acquire new language.
They read or listen to things that are too difficult. They stop
frequently to look up words they don't understand. That doesn't work
very well! We only acquire language when we understand the language we
read and listen to.
Treat yourself to a digestible diet of English! If you have trouble
understanding what you read and listen to, find something easier. Be
patient. Slowly increase the difficulty of the things you read and
listen to. If you do, your English will steadily improve.
If you have any questions or comments, please let me know!