Good news is… everything you’ve done will still be of great help to you, there is just a more efficient way!
I will explain it this way. When you are born you are not English of German. You are human and although you are born into a certain culture or race you don’t come with the ability to speak the language general to the ethnic group to which you belong. We are ‘programmed’ a certain language from the day we are born. Some parents even raise their children bilingual.
Unless taught grammar in school most people will never even think about they way they speak when using their mother tongue. When asking an English speaking child to describe the taste of sugar, they will without trying to compile a perfectly structured sentence, tell you that it is sweet. (If they understand the concept of tastes, that is.) They will not tell you that it are sweet…
This is what made me think about the way we usually learn languages. We use a dictionary for every word and try to understand the grammar instead of automating our brains to do it themselves. I had an English teacher who said that you can never say that you do not know, for chances that you have at least once come in contact with that thing is far greater than you never once seeing it. We do not trust our brains enough to let them do the work.
How to learn languages better
I mentioned before that we are programmed in our mother tongue. I believe that we should program our brains in the language we are learning. The most important thing to do once you are more fluent is to start thinking in the language you are learning. Before that you have to do a thing which Alex Rawlings, in his book How to Speak Any Language Fluently, describes as reading with your eyes closed.
This doesn’t literally mean to close your eyes while reading, it means that you should read without using a dictionary too often…
Yep, that is how we program our brains. The rules for reading closed eyes is never to look up a word unless:
- It is crucial for understanding the context.
- You see that word often. This means that it is an important word.
In the beginning it will be hard I promise, but it is worth it. Most words doesn’t have a direct translation to another language, with the exact same meaning. You will most of the time not get a perfect translation for a word. This is the main reason I believe in this concept. We understand words by general meaning.
Secondly, why this concept is so important in my eyes, is because your brain will figure out the rules for grammar on its own. This means that you won’t have to consciously think how to formulate sentences. This will happen on its own.
Lastly… remember in a real life conversation you can’t look up every word you do not understand. You need to use context to be able to understand what is being said.
I have talked a lot today, but I hope that I was able to make you understand my point of view and that it will be able to help you in future.
Tschüss, und vergessen nicht dass du es kanst tun!