Learning about the world vs. learning a language

In yesterday’s blog post, I mentioned the need to focus on the cultural aspects of learning language more to help with student motivation. What I didn’t do, was describe which cultural aspects should be focused on. I think the answer to this question is really any cultural aspect that has relevance to the students’ lives, but I want to reinforce that as English is a language of the world, in the case of learning English, that means learning about any aspect of the world.

In fact, I think that instead of having students learn English from a young age in countries like Japan where it is not a major language, up until about high school or university, that time would be better spent learning about different cultures in the world, rather than learning English, or any other language. The logic behind this is two-fold: there have been documented cases of people becoming native-like with an age of onset after 20, which shows that with the right environment and learning techniques it is possible to learn a language at any age, and that with a greater understanding of the outside world, students should be more motivated to learn a language to be able to participate in that world.

It is true that children pick up languages fast, that much is known, but they also have much more time compared to adults in which to do so, and in addition adults do in fact learn quicker than children, which means that the language can be learned in a shorter amount of time, in some cases fluency can be gained in less than a year, I’ve seen it with my own eyes even.



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