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Letter from Lhasa, number 310. Polyglot

Letter from Lhasa, number 310.Polyglot

by Roberto Abraham Scaruffi

Lomb, K.,Polyglot. How I Learn Languages, TESL-EJ, 2008.

(Lomb  2008).

Kató Lomb

Passion and memory. Passion there is or there is not, or it may come in some way out. While memory can be progressively built. The more one uses it, the more it increases.

Not only. To claim to know a language one does not know and get and keep positions as a translator for this language, to register for advanced classes for languages one does not know, to review only a few days a language one needs to translate into and one only approximately knew, all that is for temerarious geniuses even if the author claims to have not had any gift for foreign languages. 

To study a language 10-12 hours for week seems reasonable for rapid progresses. Read what you want. Overall what you like, possibly literature, which actually is the most complex material in whatever language. But read and read in ‘your’ foreign language. Of course, try to penetrate the text and to catch the broad meaning, and the possible meaning of each word, instead of looking up every word in the dictionary.

The correct pronunciation and intonations of words and sentences are mysteries must be penetrated for learning and practising effectively a language. The author gives some advice about that. One have to understand the spirit of a language and interpret it. Easy to tell, not always easy to do.

Full immersion and deal with your foreign language without any shyness. Constantly be temerarious! Circumstances, and perhaps or certainly also other people, will always try to put you down. Go always up and forward, without worrying about anything and anybody. 

It is not true that people gifted in languages do not exist. There are people rapidly speaking a foreign language better than native speakers, and just studying it or even only practising it for a short time. Some people just listen, learn and talk (for ordinary people, the author profitably suggests a more book-founded approach, at least for the very first steps). There are people just rapidly reading a grammar or a manual of a new language and being able to speak it. I had notice of some of these chaps. Of course they are exceptions.

What is true is that there are not people unable to rapidly learn one or more foreign languages if they invest time studying it or them and, of course, they have the interest and determination to succeed. (Lomb  2008, p. 173) writes that invested time + interestedness = result. It is inevitable.

One can get the highest mark in a test while another student only a mediocre, or even a failed, one. Assimilation times are not equal relatively to different subjects. On the long run, constancy and interest can lead even the worst student to overcome the best one eventually not equally constant and interested in a certain language. Study for yourself and, at the same time, be secretly competitive even in a milieu of geniuses.

(Lomb  2008) suggests inhibition as a limiting factor. It wrongly puts ‘inhibition’ as denominator of the first part of the equation. It should eventually multiply the first part of its equation for (1 - inhibition), where inhibition should be between 0 and 100% (or less than 100%), alias between 0 and 1 (or less than 1).

Anyway, its aim is clear. Inhibition is the real limiting factor, or one of the possible limiting factors if intended, as the author does, as limitation in speaking. Since her profession, the author attributes a great importance to speaking. Finally, speaking is only one of the aspects of a language and of its learning process.    

To learn is decidedly better than reading books about learning. Age is not an obstacle. Some solid, initially just elementary, comprehension is central for building further achievement. “Great systems”, grammar included, eventually are late achievements, not starting points.   

Lomb, K.,Polyglot. How I Learn Languages, TESL-EJ, 2008. 

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Atualizado em: Qua 27 Mar 2013

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