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3.4. Heavy duty two-way communication: a new phase begins

 

It is common for people to take formal language courses, perhaps for several semesters, and then find that when faced with a real live monolingual speaker of the language they thought they were learning, they are able to open their mouths, but they have difficulty getting anything to come out of those wide open mouths. Recall that to be able to speak a language means to be able to take a thought and express it through words, even though you may have never expressed that exact thought through words before. So far, you have been concentrating on learning to understand the language you are learning. Now you have absorbed hundreds of vocabulary items and a good range of sentence patterns. You have the bricks and mortar that you need to make conversation. That is good. What would have been the point of trying to seriously speak the language when you hardly knew how to say a single thing?

However, you only learn to speak by speaking. You may have known children of immigrant parents who could understand the parents' language fluently, but could not speak it at all. The reason they could not speak the language was that they had never tried to speak it. To become a speaker, you must try to speak. You must try to speak a lot, over a long period of time.

Subsections
3.4.1 Biting the bullet, or taking the plunge, whichever you prefer
3.4.2 Incorporating heavy duty two-way communication into your daily language learning
3.4.3 Biting another bullet, or taking another plunge, as you wish

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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.]

Page content last modified: 11 September 1997

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