Language Learning

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Verbal communication is based on language usage. Even though we are also able to communicate without words, language makes us special and different from other living creatures. We all speak our mother tongue which we learn and use within the closest community of our family. However, only a small number of the population – especially those from rather small countries – limit their language skills to only their mother tongue. People are forced to learn other languages for various practical reasons.

Why?
The main reason for learning a foreign language is obvious1: mankind does not speak one language, although some people believe it would be practical. There have been some attempts to make up an artificial global language. On the other hand, it is undeniable2 that a language is closely linked to the culture of a country. Take away the language and you ruin the culture. Apart from the general reason for studying languages, people have more personal motivations as well.

TRAVELLING
Getting to know foreign countries, cultures and people has never been easier than today. Thanks to modern modes3 of transportation and communication, we can get almost anywhere. Everybody must admit4 that speaking a foreign language – especially a world language – is extremely useful. Has it ever occurred to you that this is probably one of the reasons why elderly people from our country do not travel around as widely as their foreign counterparts5? For apart from the financial and health problems, our senior citizens simply don’t speak foreign languages as much as their children and grandchildren, so communication abroad is more difficult.

WORK
Language learning is an excellent investment for the future career as well. Sometimes there are more job opportunities abroad, and being able to communicate in a foreign language is a great advantage.

PASSION6
You have probably come across a person who enjoys studying languages. Not only are such people fascinated by the new structures and sounds, but they are attracted to the cultural background too. After all, the more languages you master, the more sophisticated7 and civilised you become.

Stop to think :

  • Can you think of more reasons for learning a foreign language?
  • If you had a chance to learn one more foreign language, which one would you choose and why?
  • Do you think people will speak one universal language one day? Explain. 

How?
There are several more or less eff ective methods for mastering a language.
Perhaps the most eff ective way is to live in a multilingual community. If people come from a multicultural background where, for example, the parents speak different languages, their kids grasp8 the languages spontaneously and naturally. And since they use the language actively, it is highly probable that they will remain multilingual for the rest of their lives.
Staying abroad is another successful strategy. Everyday contact with the language makes you start to use it too. Gradually you get more and more confident and find out that it isn’t necessary to translate every single sentence in your head first or making sure your grammar is a hundred percent correct. While making mistakes is a side effect of mastering a language, still it is highly satisfying to see that people around you understand what you want to say even though you are not perfect.
School lessons and language courses are perhaps the most commonly used methods of language learning. However, they have several disadvantages. First, language teachers are sometimes not as competent as expected, especially if they are not native speakers themselves. Language learning may become ineffective and boring, not to mention students learning some wrong structures. On the other hand, there is a high risk of lazy students who expect to be taught a language without their own initiative and effort. Nobody should be so naive as to expect knowledge to be poured9 into their heads without hard work. Although some techniques that work with the human subconscious10 promise exactly that, the results are questionable.
There are three main principles of learning a foreign language successfully: get motivated, work hard and use the language as much as possible.
Good luck!

 

Stop to think:

  • What do you think you should do to improve your English?
  • Do you agree with the idea of making the English language an obligatory subject at primary schools? Explain.
  • Explain the following terms: mother tongue, second language, foreign language, world language, universal language.

 

Miroslava Dubanová

VOCABULARY: 1zrejmý, evidentný – zřejmý, evidentní; 2/andinai∂bl/ nepopierateľný – nepopiratelný; 3spôsob, štýl – způsob, styl; 4pripustiť, uznať – připustit, uznat; 5proťajšok – protějšek; 6vášeň; 7sofi stikovaný, vzdelaný – vzdělaný; 8pochytiť, zvládnuť – pochytit, zvládnout; 9/po:rd/ naliatý – nalitý; 10/sabkonš∂s/ podvedomie – podvědomí