I just had this random idea reading a site on the Internet. Isn’t the best way to learn a language discussing in it? Here’re a few reasons why it might be:
- Discussion motivates you to learn more words so you can have better more elaborate arguments.
- Discussing makes you want to learn to speak/type better and make less mistakes so that you don’t look *silly* and your arguments are the ones that count (and not the mistakes in them).
- It keeps you actively engaged where you want to understand the essence of the arguments of others and answer them.
In short, one could say that discussing motivates you to learn the language so you can argue and win.
But what are the implications of that? There’s a simple one: discuss more!
When we meet foreigners for language practice, we usually tell them “tell me about your family”, “let’s talk about life in your country” and so on. Perhaps we should instead say “hello; the system of enprisonment is wrong because it 1) devalues human freedom 2) makes prison inmates even more likely to commit crimes afterwards 3) wastes taxpayers money; what do you have to say?”.
When you talk to people you have just met to practice the language, you end up agreeing with them most of the time and just telling supportive statements where maybe contradicting them a little more would serve you better.
Admittedly this makes you seem arrogant if you do it with strangers but perhaps not so much with people you know or your language exchange partners. Also, there is always a right way to put it even against strangers. Answering “wow, you are good, language X must be hard” with “thanks! well, it’s not so hard because of X and Y” instead of “thanks! yeah, it’s hard” is more likely to encourage discussion and it’s not that arrogant after all..
Practice by debating
In language practicing sites people just end up writing trivial stuff like letters to imaginary friends or daily blog entries which later get corrected by native speakers. That is okay for simple practice, I guess, but think how much more effective it would be if they started making elaborate arguments instead and native speakers could not only correct them but answer to them and so engage in a discussion.
Then native speakers would actually care more about what the people are writing and would be more likely to read it (and perhaps correct it afterwards since they have read it anyway). They would also be more likely to call people out on their mistakes just to make sure that the points in their arguments are expressed as accurately as possible so that the native speakers can understand and respond to them.
Playing devil’s advocate
Another part of this is a lot of times you agree with people on things. What do you do then? Well, you play devil’s advocate. Playing devil’s advocate is saying something that you do not believe yourself just to start a discussion.
Is it wrong to do so? I don’t think so! You make people examine their believes (and examine your own) which is always a good thing. Also you learn how to discuss more efficiently, learn both sides of the argument and practice the language more efficiently. I think that arguing a side which you don’t particularly agree with can be just as riveting because you are going for victory in the debate then.
Of course, in all of these examples, you have to be careful not to offend people and not to overdo it, or perhaps sometimes make it explicit that you are arguing just for arguing (and for learning the language).
It seems to me that debating instead of simply speaking can serve as a great strategy which can help you with motivation and with getting more practice (because people usually like to finish the discussions they are involved in no matter how much time it takes) too. So perhaps we should add more discussion to our language learning?
What do you think?
- Gaining the Confidence to Speak to Native Speakers
- The Difficulty of Ancient Languages Compared to Modern Ones
- My Idea For a Trick to Make Absolutely Sure You Learn The Language While In The Country
- How To Learn Russian
- How To Learn Languages Fast? Answer: Teach Them!