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Learning in an unstructured setting

 

Introduction
 

An unstructured or informal language learning setting is one where you immerse yourself in a speech community where the language you want to learn is spoken. You learn through the everyday experiences of life.

Characteristics
 

Here are some characteristic features of learning in an unstructured setting:

 
  • There are many fluent speakers around.
  • People talk to you to communicate with you, not to teach you their language.
  • The learning takes place in open, unconstrained areas, with lots of physical context.
  • The language is normal and uncontrolled (not bookish): there is a wide range of natural styles and registers.
  • There is no systematic approach to new material; learning tends to be uneven and unstructured.
  • Learners may not be aware that they are learning or aware of what specifically they have learned.
  • Learners go through stages before learning to communicate.
  • Communication is not organized around the learner's needs.
  • Language is experienced in a variety of natural social contexts, therefore it is possible to learn a lot about the nature of interaction and appropriate ways of speaking.
  • Opportunities for practice are unlimited.
  • Some learners may learn to speak fairly fluently but continue to make grammar mistakes. These eventually "fossilize" and resist change thereafter, even when a deliberate attempt is made to work on them. This is attributed by some people to the fact that the learners had no correction when learning.

Context for this page:

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: 17 September 1998

© 1999 SIL International