Beverly Hills Lingual Institute
Beverly Hills Lingual Institute
Beverly Hills Lingual Institute
Beverly Hills Lingual Institute

The Wrong Way to Learn a Language

Learning a second language is an involved undertaking. Your whole person is affected as you reach beyond the confines of your first language and into a new language - a new culture, a new way of thinking, feeling, and acting.

It's so much easier to make a commitment if you're involved

Commitment from both teacher and student are essential. It's so much easier to make that commitment if you're involved. Only then, we would submit, can you muster the physical, intellectual, and emotional responses necessary to achieve the reward of successfully - naturally - sending and receiving messages in a second language.

Language learning is not a set of easy steps that can be programmed in a quick do-it-yourself kit. That's part of why we strongly suggest you learn by immersion, interacting with your peers, with guidance and accountability from a native-speaking teacher.

The alternative is not pretty.


  • Being taught in English, with little active use of the language you want to learn.

  • Vocabulary, presented to you in lists of isolated words, whose disconnected sentences you may occasionally be assigned to translate.

  • Long, elaborate explanations of the intricacies of grammar, before any attempt to put words together.

  • Instruction which ignores the joy of using new words, and which instead focuses on their form and inflection.

  • Being assigned a difficult and tedious classical text, early on in the course, and not for its content but rather as an exercise in grammatical analysis.

None of the above does anything to enhance a student's communicative ability in their chosen language. It is remembered, as two authors researching language-learning approaches once wrote, with distaste by thousands of school learners - "for whom foreign-language learning meant a tedious experience of memorizing endless lists of unusable grammar rules and vocabulary and attempting to produce perfect translations of stilted or literary prose."

Mind you, we can see why this method was once so popular - and why some might still use it. Few specialized skills are required on the part of teachers. Tests of grammar rules and of translations are easy to construct and can be objectively scored. Many standardized tests of foreign languages still do not attempt to tap into communicative abilities, so students have little motivation to go beyond grammar analogies, translations, and rote exercises.

However, it is a method for which there is no theory. As the aforementioned authors, Jack Richards and Theodore Rogers concluded, "There is no literature that offers a rationale or justification for it or that attempts to relate it to issues in linguistics, psychology, or educational theory."

At the Beverly Hills Lingual Institute, we're often told that acquiring a language through immersion really does feel like magic. Being surrounded by others who are interested in the language and culture you have chosen will reinforce your interest and motivation.

Acquiring a language through immersion really does feel like magic

Learning together, with shared commitment, creates a pleasant and exciting education experience.

We don't know how to do things any other way.

Further reading

  • Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (3rd Edition)
    Richards, Jack C. and Rodgers, Theodore S.
    Cambridge University Press (2014)
    Find the book on Amazon

Tue 05 Dec 17

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