Remember how I said way back when that learning Spanish was one of my top goals at the moment? Well, I’m still not where I want to be but I’m always learning more and have spent lots of time researching the HOW of learning a language and seeking out new resources. That’s why I’m happy to share this post with Lingoo with my readers today – I found it super helpful and think you will too!
When it comes to completely mastering a language, the combination of your ability to easily speak the language and also use correct grammar for past, present and future tenses is of course necessary. However, when you are first starting out learning a new language, accuracy is definitely not the most important thing, here’s why.
What Is Accuracy?
Accuracy is the ability to produce correctly structured sentences using the correct vocabulary and grammar. So basically you’re not mixing words up in the wrong order, your pronunciation is good and you are using the right tense for your sentence. More traditional language learning has always focused on accuracy first but it’s not always the best approach.
What Is Fluency?
Fluency is when someone is able to use a language with ease and smoothly without pausing lots to remember words. They may make some grammatical errors but they are able to effectively communicative fully in the language. Modern day teaching practices outside classrooms tend to lean towards making fluency a priority first.
Fluency over Accuracy
So why should fluency be a focus over accuracy when first learning a new language? Well it’s quite simple really, in order to get better at something, you need to practice. And language learning is no different. You need to speak it, just get the words out over and over again. Getting too caught up in making sure you construct the perfect sentence will hinder this.
Think about it like this, when you are born, you couldn’t automatically speak any languages. But to speak your first language, you practised by just trying out lots of new vocabulary and learnt to express yourself so that others could understand you. You focused on results orientated, effective communication. It’s exactly the same principle with your next language.
Paying more attention to meaning and context rather than accuracy will connect you with the language better. And being able to be understood by others will bring you the most sense of achievement when you first start out, not whether you have added exactly the right verb ending or pronounced something like a true native. Just start speaking those new words.
Now as an adult, many of us can feel embarrassed by making mistakes. But remember accuracy when learning a new language is subjective. People don’t expect children to have the same language skills as an adult and it’s the same when you first start dipping your toes into the world of a new language. Don’t let fear of making mistakes hold you back.
Embrace your inner child, ignore that inner stickler and forget about constructing perfectly grammatically correct sentences. It will come naturally later anyway and fluency is also so much harder than learning to be accurate in a language. Misusing vocabulary is all part of the learning process and quite frankly is necessary in order for you to become comfortable.
Learning as an adult, things are made more difficult by the fact that your mouth has been trained to speak in a certain way using the sounds of your native language. So when you try to make it make a different sound in your new language it takes practice, patience and repetition to change your muscle memory.
Language Learning Tips
Ask For Feedback
Another thing may of us are not a fan of as adults is asking for feedback. But when learning to speak a new language it is pretty much essential to your progress. So ask advanced learners and native speakers to correct some of your mistakes when you are speaking to them. Just not all the time though, you don’t want them to tire of it or for it to knock your confidence.
Try A Homestay
If you are not living in a country that speaks the language you are trying to learn it can sometimes be difficult to find people to practice with. This is where homestays are perfect, because not only will you be surrounded by your new language, you will also have the safety net of your host family to guide you. Read more about language homestays here.
Talk To Yourself
This may seem a little crazy at first, however talking to yourself is a tried and tested language learning method. Not only does the repetition help you remember the new words, it is also really useful for you to get used to how you speaking your new language sounds. And you can do it all without any fear of being judged.
Don’t Think Too Much
The brain is a very powerful thing and you should approach speaking new words by trusting yourself and just going for it. Let your subconscious do the work and don’t try to analyse what you are saying too much. If you are putting the work in learning the theory and vocabulary of your new language you’ll likely be surprised at how few mistakes you do make.
Article by Lingoo, the world’s biggest language exchange and homestay club. Lingoo gives language learners of all ages the power to decide how they would like to learn and practice a language and helps teachers and hosts to deliver authentic language learning experiences.