I don’t like it.
$ Tell me all about it.
$ Firstly, I don’t understand what I’m writing.
$ That’s why we need the translation of the text.
$ Secondly, I have 3 particles, a measure word, past. First I have to learn grammar.
$ Vera drew my attention to the fact that learning grammar is not a prerequisite in learning languages. Tell me, when you were a kid, while learning your mother tongue, did you learn grammar?
$ Of course not.
$ Precisely. Learning grammar is good for grammar freaks, who are a minority. While decoding, your task is to observe and draw conclusions. Let’s get colors involved in learning. They will support the work of your right brain. Particle 1 – paint it in green, 2 – red, 3 – yellow. For the measure word you can choose a symbol instead of a color, too. Past – blue. Decode, observe. Soon you will know where they put particle 1, when they use it and what it expresses. Now we can move to Step 2. Active listening. Look at the decoded text and listen to the original until you are sure you understand the recorded text so good as if it were in your mother tongue.
$ It means: how many times?
$ It depends solely on you. While listening, imagine the scene: the boy, the girl, the pictures etc. so that your right brain gets involved again. Let’s get started.
$ Now the decoding makes much more sense to me.
$ I’m happy to hear that. Step 3. Passive listening. You’re working, cooking, tidying up and in the background there is the record of your text. Don’t pay attention to it. Just let it teach you. You certainly observed children who physically participate in adults’ conversations, but are immersed in their play. They seem not to pay attention to what the adults say, nevertheless, after they come home, they are able to replay the conversations: and aunty Carol said….
$ Yes, they are incredible with this. Do I have to listen to the same texts over and over? Why not just switch on the Chinese radio or TV?
$ You are free and you don’t have to do anything. Vera encourages to listening passively to the texts we already know from decoding. However, Vera didn’t know you while she was writing the book about her method, right?
$ No doubt about it.
$ Stand up on your uniqueness. If you feel totally negative at the very thought of listening passively to what you have decoded and you feel attracted to listening to the Chinese radio, follow this. Find out what serves you the best.
$ But I’m not an expert in teaching languages! What if I harm myself?
$ Many entities of organized education batten on the fact that students don’t believe in themselves, that they don’t trust their instincts. Their professionalism would be severely tested if all students had enough courage to admit that they – not the teachers – are the experts in the realm of their own life, including their command of foreign languages.
$ If I lack this self-confidence I can lose long years and not plant it in myself, consequently, for years I am not able to learn a language. And if I enroll to a course, a specialist is my guide.
$ You can enroll to a course and miss classes for many reasons.
$ Tell me something I don’t know.
$ You can attend classes, make no progress and blame your teacher for it.
$ You can change courses incessantly looking for the one.
$ What are you pointing at?
$ Changing something outside, e.g. enrolling to a language course doesn’t change anything inside. The change comes from inside and goes outside. Are you moved?
$ It intrigued me.
$ Step 4 is left. I’m going to suggest 3 types of exercise that you do after step 1, 2, and 3. You can use the following plan:
|Tue||Step 2||Step 1|
|Wed||Step 3||Step 2||Step 1|
|Thu||Step 4||Step 3||Step 2||Step 1|
|Fri||Step 4||Step 3||Step 2||Step 1|
|Sat||Step 4||Step 3||Step 2|
|Sun||Step 4||Step 3|
Or skip Step 3 in your plan since you prefer listening to the Chinese radio on every opportunity. Exercise 1. Look at the decoded text. Play the first sentence. Stop. Repeat the original version. Let’s do it.
Exercise 2. The other way round. Look at the decoded text, say the original version of the first sentence and check with the CD whether what you said was correct or not. Is it clear?
$ Yes, it is.
I’m not completely sure whether what I say is correct or not.
$ You can hear what is recorded, can’t you? And you can hear yourself, right?
$ Yes, I can, but I’m not sure if I don’t make any mistakes.
$ Trust yourself. Believe that today you’re doing it the best way you can. Life, i.e. genuine conversations in a foreign language, will show you that you can speak this language properly.
$ And what if people don’t understand me?
$ It’s going to be all right, too. I called Milan International Fair last month.
- Fira di Milan, buon giorno
- Hello, B. Adler Cork speaking. Can I talk to…
- O! Please! Can you speak English?
I said to myself: I don’t know. Can I?
$ No! It really happened?! Very funny!
$ That’s what I think. Exercise 3. Look at the decoded text and put its original version down.
$ I’m not going to do that. I only want to learn how to speak Chinese.
$ Sure thing. Let exercise 3 serve you in learning other languages then and let’s call it a day.