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Chapter 3. Things to do to keep on keeping on


In discussing comprehensible input, I referred to four stages of language learning. It is a good idea at any given point to gear your overall approach to language learning to your current stage. My assumption has been that the first stage is just behind you. To review briefly, the four stages are as follows:

  1. At Stage I, you had difficulty understanding speech that was not clearly supported by pictures, objects or actions.
  2. At Stage II, you have difficulty understanding speech unless the content is fairly predictable, or else is carefully and tediously negotiated with a sympathetic native speaker.
  3. At Stage III, you have difficulty understanding speech unless the topic is one with which you are familiar, and you have the full context, or the meaning is negotiated with a native speaker.
  4. At Stage IV, you are able to get at least a general understanding of just about anything you hear, even if it is totally out of context, and you merely happen to overhear it as you pass by.

Now it may be that you are actually past Stage II. In any case, if you are planning to devote a fair portion of your time to language learning for the next two years, you will spend most of that time in Stage III, provided you have an effective means for moving quickly through Stages I and II. In Thomson (1993a) I proposed a program for moving through Stage I and getting well into Stage II. Here I will assume that you are just barely into Stage II. Some of the ideas from Thomson (1993a) are repeated here, since I want to start at the beginning of Stage II.

3.1 Stage II language learning activities
3.2 Stage III language learning activities
3.3 What about Stage IV?

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