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1.2. Things to do to learn a language


First, what are the key resources you need to locate? A textbook, you say? Bzzzz ! Ah, but you knew better. A human, you say. Chime! One or more fluent speakers to join with around experience. Next, you need some time to meet with those people. Third, you need some experience to join around.

One of the authors has written quite a bit about how to find people, and the kind of people to find in the paper "Leave Me Alone! Can't You See I'm Learning Your LanguageT' But we continue to see repeatedly that a key to organizing your early language learning is the way your native speaker friends understand their role as your helper and co communer. Explain to them that you need a friend, not a teacher. People base new roles on ones they already know. "Teacher" may seem to them to be the obvious one. Don Larson reminds us that "mother, father, uncle, aunt, older sibling" are closer to what you actually need. You need someone who will talk to you in such a way that you can understand her, and who will help you along as you struggle to put your own thoughts into words. That's all you need. If the person can read English, let her read this very paragraph if you'd like. She will be "teaching" you in a sense, but not in the sense that she is likely to have in mind. So it is better to call it something like "language practice". And call your language sessions "visits" rather than "lessons". The youngest of the authors emphasizes that even the word "sessions" gives too serious a tone to what we have in mind by "visits". We find that in meeting with three different friends there is one with whom we are more formal in that we tape recorded the visit. The other visits are just visits.

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Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 3.5, published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 1999. [Ordering information.]

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