Fang Talks


That’s not even how languages are supposed to work, right?

So next week is the last exam week of this year, which is great. Too bad we had English as a subject this term. The lessons are decent and all, since our teacher is cool enough to deviate from the default program of “just learn these words”, and actually do some grammar with us. He isn’t cool enough to be able to change the exams though, which means I still have to sit down and actually learn lists of words. Yes, that includes very specific and/or niche translations. And if there’s something I’m terrible at, it’s just that.

I picked up English at a very young age, so I treat it just like I treat Dutch. I don’t stop to think about the exact meaning of the words I use, I just make sure they fit in the sentence and convey what I want them to convey, and that’s that. It’s much more of a feeling thing than anything else. There are plenty of English words which I know exactly how and when to use, and what they mean. But ask me to translate it to Dutch and you won’t be able to get a sensible answer out of me, ever.

You aren’t really supposed to learn languages by words and sentences though, now are you? This leads to things feeling very unnatural, especially since you’ll often resort to just literally translating sentences from your own language. You need to get a feel for the language, how it works, how it flows. Sure, you won’t always be taught the complex grammatical rules that way, but you’ll be using them anyway. Why? You heard it a lot in a specific context, so you know when to apply it.

Maybe it really is best to just learn a few basic words and then move to an area where they only speak that foreign language, so you’re forced to learn quickly?
~ Fang


  • 08/06/2013 (11:21 PM)

    I think I’d really fail at trying to immerse myself though. I do agree though that you can’t really learn a language just by learning a bunch of words. You learn a language properly by engaging in conversation and contextualizing the words yourself. There are even languages where the context is more important than the words themselves. Just do your best man. You speak pretty awesome English.

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