lundi 18 janvier 2010

Foreign language learning: Classroom vs self study

I mentioned in my previous post that I prefer self study over classroom learning, at least in the beginning.

When I tell people I'm learning French, the two main questions I get asked are:
Why do you want to learn it?
Where are you learning it?

Most people assume I'm learning it in class and when I tell them I learnt it at home by myself 'toute seule' they are very surprised and shocked.

IMHO I think it's far far better to learn alone (with the aid of the internet of course) and/or with a 1:1 tutor at the beginning and THEN go to a class once you're at an intermediate level, than the other way around (learning in a class first and then with a 1:1 tutor). Of course a 1:1 tutor is invaluable no matter which level you're at but I think you would accelerate your learning by NOT going to a class at the beginning. If you're a fast learner you would be held back and if you're a slow learner you would not catch on to the concepts (particularly if you've never learnt a foreign language before).

I think the most successful learners are those who can learn alone, with self motivation. For me it was easy to do this because I've always been self motivated. I'm not swayed by friends, peer pressure, my parents, the media, etc etc. If I want to do something, I just go and do it. I don't need to drag a friend along to everything I do. I'm a fairly independent learner anyway.

It's just interesting because I came across two recent blog posts about the topic of classroom learning vs self study and they both agree that self study is better. I think the vast majority of successful language learners would agree with this too!

The Linguist Steve Kaufmann
Portland State University report

Jennie en France
New York Times article


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