What if you can't learn a second language?

The widespread fascination with English and other foreign languages ​​has led to the fact that the number of teaching methods is already difficult to calculate. Most of the new techniques are aimed at quickly mastering a foreign language, and thanks to the active promotion of communication and express approaches, where the student immediately learns to speak, everyone is confident that the same English should be taught without the help of Russian.

Do you remember how you learned Russian? After all, the process of learning languages ​​is one. Maybe you shouldn't discount your Russian possession? Let's figure it out together.

It is unlikely that you ever thought about how you learned Russian. "I know everything." Maybe mom told some ridiculous reservations or your original method of pronouncing any words. We know perfectly well that a child’s brain is more plastic and acquires new knowledge more quickly than an adult’s brain (for some it serves as an excuse not to learn new words, they say, the brain is already old). But scientists have long found that the brain is finally formed by the age of 25, and some of its functions are finally established closer to 40. And one more fact: the brain is capable of learning throughout your entire life. However, the child is really able to quickly learn two or more languages, while an adult will need some time. But in this regard, time can be deceived. The main thing is to know how it all begins.

Early childhood language perception

And your language development begins in the womb. As soon as the fetus develops the auditory system, it is able to perceive sounds from outside. Most often, the baby, of course, hears mom. British linguist David Crystal writes in one of his works that an unborn child is able to perceive the intonation with which mother and people around her speak. In the future, this will affect the child’s language development and emphasis (if we are talking about languages ​​with many dialects, such as English).

In the first months of life, the baby ghouls and makes monosyllabic sounds. If two kids, one, for example, an American, and one Chinese, are put next to them, then they will be rattling with different intonations: because all the time that their auditory system works, they have heard a certain language and its intonational structure. When a child enters the stage of babble, he begins to experiment with intonation, depending on what he hears. And by the year he begins to give out about 15 words and combinations of syllables to indicate people and things around.

How we memorized the words

Psycholinguists Eve and Herbert Clark argue that the first acts of communication between parents and children occur without words at all. We ask to repeat the new word again and again, pointing to the object of interest with a finger. Pay attention to any mom with a stroller: the baby looks around, points his finger at something interesting and makes a sound. Mom immediately calls the word. After several repetitions, the child begins to reproduce the word in his own manner (for example, he points to the dog and shouts “Av-Av!” Or “Abaka!”), And then learns to pronounce it correctly.

None of us began to speak outright in beautiful sentences. Our development of speech continues to primary school age, when we begin to assimilate the complex grammatical aspects of the native language.

We will make an important intermediate conclusion : it took you more than one year even to master your native Russian language. You went from sounds to syllables, from syllables to words, from words to short sentences, and already from short sentences to long ones.

Mastering a second language

If you are not bilingual and have not heard two languages ​​since birth, then your perception of a foreign language will go through the prism of your native one. Most often, the words in your native language you memorized through the object or its picture. A picture-word connection has formed in your brain. When you add words in a foreign language, your brain adds a new link to an already existing connection: “a picture - a word in Russian - a word in English”. Due to age changes, the process of forming a new connection will last longer, but this does not mean at all that you cannot remember new words and explain yourself. There are many ways to memorize new words: from cards to methods of mnemonics But how to keep them in memory? How to start talking in sentences?

The answer is simple: go back to basics and if you don’t immerse yourself in the language completely, moving to a country where it is spoken, then at least create similar conditions for yourself.

For example, you need to learn the word "microwave" in English - “microwave” . The stove itself is in your kitchen. The age no longer allows you to poke a finger into it and say “a!” Loudly, so you have to open the dictionary and see how the microwave is called in English. Then boldly take the sticker, write the word “microwave” on it and stick it on the stove. Now, every time you walk past a microwave, read the word out loud. After some time, your brain will create the desired connection, and you will remember the word.

Now you will need to expand vocabulary. Your mom (or dad) must have done this trick with you skillfully when you were 3-4 years old: “This is a cat. What does a cat do? How does the cat say? Where are the eyes of the cat? Where are the ears of the cat? ” And you obediently said that the cat was sitting, that the cat said "meow", and then showed where her eyes and ears, because these words you already knew. The same will now have to be reproduced in English. What does the microwave do? Where is she standing? Why is it needed? And so gradually, question by question, word by word and concept by concept, you begin to build sentences: from simple to complex.

Remember that it is very important to surround the word with context, and not to teach it in isolation, otherwise you will know the words, but you will not be able to construct sentences from them.

From Russian to English

You can’t get rid of your first language in the first stages, and all the methods that claim that you should speak only English right from the very first lesson mislead you. Familiar state when in Russian you know what you want to say, but in English there are not enough words? In such cases, the teacher will offer to rephrase the sentence. This is certainly a great way to still express your thoughts, despite the lack of knowledge of words, but it does not work at all at the initial stage. It is like asking a two-year-old child to speak with complex sentences. Work from easy to hard.

By the same principle, by the way, our “Ticher Method” works, which begins with the alphabet and simple words and gradually gains complexity. In it, you watch a short video tutorial (“micro-knowledge”) and immediately fix what you have learned in the exercise, at the end of the topic you pass the test, at the end of the course - an exam. Courses are divided by language proficiency levels.

Time to learn a second language

Can you learn to speak fast? There are courses "English for three months", "English for a week", "English for 16 hours" ... The answer to this question is disappointing. Re-read our intermediate output.

Of course, with age, you do not have to spend a lot of time on awareness of some common concepts, as children do. However, even with intensive training two or three times a week and unconditional (!) Homework (ideally, the language should be given time every day) you will need at least three years to master the language at a high level (we did the calculation in this article ).

It should be noted separately that any knowledge from your head can volatilize. This is how our brain works: I learned something new - forgot something old. Regularly repeat what you have learned, pass various tests and do not dismiss simple topics - they are just the easiest to forget.

And the final way to improve your knowledge can be called communication with native speakers or people who speak the language at a high level. In other words, get yourself a language buddy (by the way, we wrote about it on a blog on our site). It’s trivial, but a fact: if you communicate at least a couple of times a week on some topics that are interesting to you, receive feedback and join discussions, it will be easier for you to learn a new language for you.


Do not hope that you can learn a language in a couple of weeks or months. Years took you to your native language, and in a foreign language you will not limit yourself to a short period of time. All words must be studied in context and in conjunction with the corresponding adjectives and verbs, so that your brain can more easily create new connections and memorize new concepts. The proverb “Repetition is the mother of learning” does not just exist: we forget what we don’t use in life. Repeat the material regularly. And it would be even better to apply the gained knowledge in practice, communicating with a carrier or someone who speaks fluently in the language you learn.


1. G. Clark, E. Clark. How little children use their sayings. // Psycholinguistics. Digest of articles. Compiled by A.M. Shakhnarovich. - 1984 - p. 353-354.
2. David Crystal "You Say Potato"

For those who want to pump English

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Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/408637/

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