Do we ‘learn’ or ‘acquire’ a new language?
For years, we have been taught how to learn a new language. The benefits of knowing all skills of a language are quite important. However, polls from all over the world show that we are not really good at doing it. Why can’t we learn a language successfully even though all the efforts and lessons? The probable answer is because we try to ‘learn’ it. The key factor is trying to ‘acquire’ a new language. But how?
Most specialists are insisting on the fact that we need to learn something unconsciously. Repeating words, memorizing the chunks or phrases, and thinking over them is not an unconscious and effective learning technique. We are well aware of doing those stuff. The constant repeat and thinking don’t give us much contribution. One of the most important examples is 'the babies’. Have you ever wondered how they speak their own language or even multiple languages at the same time without getting any tutor at all? Because they are acquiring them and they don’t even know how they do it! Isn’t that cool? In the first phase, they just hear the language spoken in the environment and produce nothing. After hearing certain words or phrases, they start to react to them with their movements such as nodding their heads, smiling, or pointing. They still have no production with words but we can understand that they are successful learners of the language. After the gestures, here come the simple words such as mommy, daddy, bottle, sleep, etc. These words evolve into chunks and sentences at the end. Sentences can be grammatically incorrect but that is not something that should be corrected because it is one of the basic steps of unconscious learning or acquiring. They will see their mistakes and correct them in time to be fluent speakers of the target language. Most scholars are trying to move that technique into the classrooms. Instead of "Today we are going to learn simple present tense" we can simply say that "we are going to watch a video". A video consisting of a daily routine of a teenage girl etc.
If you are not a teacher and still want to use this technique in your own language acquisition process, the answer is; you already have! The most common examples are playing video games, watching movies or series, reading a book in the target language. You just think that you do this stuff to pass the time as a hobby but there are many things underneath! After being exposed to the target language for a specific time, you can understand and use the words even the sentences whenever you want without realizing it. They are the same phases as the babies to learn a new language. If you complain about all the efforts and money you spent to learn a new language, just give some time to yourself and enjoy your free time activities!