Offering 0pen and Honest Professional Advice
Howard new book 2020
Howard has completed a new book for language learnres on how to learn Welsh and other languages. It is around 180 pages.
The book has the potential to make the learning of languages easier and more acessible to all learners.
Howard is expecting to make the book available in early 2020. It refers to proven research methods.
Chapter 1 – The Language Journey 7
Chapter 2 - Self Study 15
Chapter 3 – How to Learn Cognitively 23
Chapter 4 – Fluency 34
Chapter 5 Communicative Language 43
Chapter 6 - Word Learning and Vocabulary 70
Chapter 7 - Grammar Learning 83
Chapter 8 – Comprehension 96
Chapter 9 – New Language Learning Welsh 101
Chapter 10 How do I learn French? 115
Chapter 11 Teaching 128
Chapter 12 Plenary 133
Chaptrr 13 Epilogue 139
Speaking a language is the fastest skill that the human brain can apply. We all possess the fluency of Ph.D. academics in our native language. We all apply our oral language with ease and flow. All languages are more complicated than we appreciate. There are a whole range of irregularities in English that do not conform to rules, which we do not notice, because we are so fluent in applying them.
Learning a new language is one of the most challenging tasks that older children and adults can undertake, because they need to learn a new basic skill. Most older children and adult learning will develop from what they know. My own experience of improving Welsh as an adult provided me with an empathy of what it like to be a child struggling to learn and apply their native language in school.
Most people have no appreciation of how much time it takes to learn a new language. Hurd and Murphy of the Open University (2006) contended that: -
“Often as learners we set off with unrealistic assumptions, some of which may be fostered by the advertising employed by some course providers of language learners, along the lines of 'Learn language in three weeks!”
Many people believe that new languages can be learnt by learning phrases ‘parrot fashion’, but humans are intelligent beings, ‘parrots’ are not. Parrots live in the wild or cages. Human beings live in houses.
There is a tradition in adult new language tutoring for the master apprentice model of tutoring to be applied. It is a 'I can speak a language and will show you how to learn it attitude'. The fact someone is a fluent speaker of a language or even possesses a Ph.D. in a language, does not make them effective language tutors.
Chess masters cannot memorise every move they need to make. New learners cannot mechanically memorise every phrase that they will need to use in a well-developed n ew langue fluency.
There are no miracle fast ways of effectively learning any new language. Some languages may be easier to learn that others.
Professional teachers go to university schools of education to learn about teaching and learning. They are given access to the corporate intelligence, the vast amount of educational research that exists across the world that draws upon cognitive and increasingly neuro-science research. If there was an easy way of learning anything, then surely someone would have found it.
Professor Sarah Eaton (2017), Educationalist in Calgary University, Canada contends that it takes 10,000 hours of practise to develop native like fluency in a new language. Many learners commence the journey of learning a new language without giving any thought to how they will learn it. Learners who research how to learn and use appropriate learning strategies will learn new languages more comfortably and securely in accelerated time scales.
The problem with the term ‘speaks a language’ is that it can be applied to someone who can speak a few phrases in a language or someone who has native like fluency in it. Tutors sometimes claim that they can speak many languages to impress learners and to encourage them to have lessons from them or to use their learning websites. Just because someone claims to have learnt a new language, does not necessarily mean they are experts on how to learn them.
All new language learning relies on general principles of learning. It needs to relate to the principles of native language learning, first and second language learning. All new additional languages are learnt in broadly similar ways, but there will be special characteristics in each language that needs to be taught and learnt. The Welsh language has mutations, for instance, changes to the first letter of words in specific circumstances, that does not occur in most other languages.
The problem of learning Welsh and most foreign languages in the United Kingdom is that they are not all around them. There will be limited opportunities for learners to use the language they are learning outside the classroom.
Welsh speakers, who live in Welsh speaking communities, homes or families have a tremendous advantage when they chose to learn Welsh. This applies to learners of other languages, such as French, which are minority languages in the United Kingdom.
This not an argument for anyone not to learn minority languages like Welsh or French. Attempting to learn a new language, providing they are effectively taught,
will provide learners with a challenge. It will improve their native language skills, such as English. They can reach a standard in their new language learning where they will be able to interact with other learners and native speakers at some level, and they while even be understood by native speakers. Welsh adults in Wales are taught a simplified artificial form of Welsh called Cymru am Byw (Living Welsh).
Research suggests that the potential for learners to progress in a new language will be highly differentiated, spread out. This is because of working memory, which is the brains processing capacity. Working memory capacity is different in all people. It will have a strong influence on how easy learners will learn a new language. The spread also arises because some learners will have more time to devote to their learning than others. It is also arising because of the language environments that exist outside the classrooms, the opportunities learners have to use the new language they are learning will vary. This will influence how effectively and fast learners will learn a new language.
Tutors often expect learners to memorise phrases like ‘parrots’ by rote, through drilling them, repeatedly practising them like musical scales. Learners need to do a community service of practise learning them in this way to achieve modest progress in their language learning. It will allow learners to initially engage in extremely basic early communication, but it is brain dead method for tutor and learner, which does not provide secure avenues towards developing longer term new language learning success.
The main characteristic of new language learning is that leaners struggling to speak the new language. Most learners interest is in only learning to speak it. I can remember a village postman when I was improving my Welsh, whose mouth would open and not a word would come out of it. He was suffering from cognitive overload. His working memory was overloaded. Developing the four language skills speaking, listening, reading and writing is the most effective means of developing a new confident fluent spoken language capability.
The problem with learning a new language is that a huge vocabulary of words, facts that need to be learn, that cannot be instantly learnt. Factual memory is very transient. This reflects the fact the brain is very plastic. It is not easy to bring a new vocabulary into fluency, especially when the new language is not all-around learners.
Research also suggests that the native language that learners speak will have an influence on the way they need to learn and the success that they will enjoy when learning their new language. If the two languages have a common alphabet and similar grammatical forms, for instance, it will be easier for them to learn a new language, than in those languages that do not. It will probably be easier for an English speaker to learn Italian, which is a very regular language, for instance, than it will be for an Italian speaker to learn English, which is a very irregular one.
Some languages have symbols instead of written letters. Arabic is written from right to left, as opposed to left to right, which will cause vast difficulties for English speakers learning to learn Arabic or vice versa. The reason why children find maths initially difficult is because it was written by Arabs living in India, it is notated from right to left. We are all naturally left to right processors in the west.
Although this book will consider the issue of learning Welsh, which will draw upon my experience of learning, improving my Welsh as an adult, it will be relevant to all new language learning. It will draw on the research that I have undertaken into language learning and the cognition of language learning. It will also draw upon my cross-curricula educational understanding.
Attempting to develop fluency in a new language could be described as being like attempting to climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Scotland. Learners should have realistic ambitions. It is vitally important that learners will be offered secure avenues that will lead towards reaching the summit of the mountain of native like new language fluency, accepting that few learners will reach that final of summit of being able to apply accurate native like language fluency.
The most important learning priority in new language learning is to dig the foundations of the new language. Unless learners engage in full time language study, they should be prepared to engage in two years of study before they can expect to achieve tangible progress. This is because if the foundations are language are securely grown, then their progress in the second year will accelerated.
To be published soon.