Learning a New Language

Learning a New Language

Alexander Dwayne Feliciano, Staff Reporter/Broadcaster

If you are a student who is currently taking a foreign language class, most of you would agree that you still can not understand your language. This is because our foreign language classes teach language by “actively studying” it. Now you are probably confused, “What’s wrong with actively studying language, is that not how you do it?” Well, according to the linguist Steven Krashen, the brain has two ways to learn a language: acquisition and studying.  

The linguist Steven Krashen received a PhD from UCLA and made around 486 publications regarding language learning. In one of his quotes he believes:  

Language is best taught when it is being used to transmit messages, not when it is explicitly taught for conscious learning.” 


  Steven Krashen says that conscious learning is referred to as the skill-building approach. This is when students go over grammar and vocabulary exercises in order to build sentences into your brain. However, skill-building does not work when learning languages. This is because students are treating languages like your other subjects such as science and math, but languages are different because they are extremely specific in unpredictable ways. Use yourself as an example: when you speak, did you remember every grammar rule and vocabulary phrase as you speak? No? Exactly.  

  Now, do not be discouraged! Learning a language is possible, in fact, the key to it is YOU! When you were a child, did you spend one hour going over grammar lessons and vocabulary exercises? The way children learned languages was simply by listening, this is referred to as the acquisition method. The acquisition method is when you “build an intuitive knowledge of the language.”  

 According to Refold, which is a language learning community that uses the acquisition method to learn languages:, when we speak, we do not think about grammar or vocabulary but instead about the meaning of what we want to say. Even if you become “fluent” in a language through skill-building, you would sound like a robot. 

 You would sound like a robot because your brain would be so occupied with thinking about grammar rules and choosing the proper vocab that as a result, you would sound unnatural. Instead, we should spend more time listening and exposing ourselves to the language rather than actively studying it. The reason children are successful at learning languages is because children spend so much time listening and being exposed to the language that their brains have finally decoded the patterns and over time, they begin to speak. 

A huge benefit of the acquisition method is that it would teach you the raw language. Raw language is basically language used in everyday conversations. This can be very useful to students learning a new language, if students want to be fluent and good at a language then using the acquisition method can help students converse with fluent speakers in a more natural way as well! 


According to the Refold website, children learn languages from continuous exposure to their languages 

Now, you may be wondering, how can I listen and expose myself to the language? Well, we live in a digital age and thanks to that, we can use tools such as Netflix and YouTube to do so. Just search for the videos that have the foreign language you want to learn and just sit back, as you watch, listen, and focus on what is going on. There may be a time where you may feel like this method will not work but I tell you this, your brain is hard at work. While you are sitting down enjoying your favorite anime or show, your brain is working  

However, I must caution you, this method will not result in you becoming fluent in a matter of hours, to really get to a prominent level on a language really depends on how related your native language is compared to your second language you are trying to learn, for example: Spanish + English = Very Similar but Korean + English = Not similar. When children began to learn their native language, it took them months and years for their brain to decode the pattern. Look on the bright side, because your brain is more improved than your brain years ago, you have the ability to master a language faster than children! 

According to the Refold Website: 

Our brains are better compared to the brain during our childhood, as a result, we can learn languages more effectively and faster. 

Now, there is much more detail about this method, if I were to do so in this article, then it will take forever! In the Refold website, it holds all the information that is related to this article, the website has two versions: a more detailed version of the information and a simplified version. If you want to learn how to truly gain a high level in a language, then feel free to check out this website. Right here: 


Before I end this article, I am not throwing shade to any foreign language courses or teachers. The point of this article is to improve the process of how we learn languages. I want to help students learn languages as learning languages is an extremely rewarding journey. A first step I believe that could help students learn a language more effectively is to make the learning process enjoyable. 

According to Steven Krashen: 

“…watching compelling movies and having conversations with truly fascinating people is not simply another route, another option. It is possible that compelling input is not just optimal: It may be only way we truly acquire language.” 

Krashen is basically saying that enjoying the process of learning a language is especially important as it is the bridge to fluency. Not only would it help your brain to stay focused, but it also makes the work fun! If we compare the acquisition method to the skill-building method, the skill-building method is boring and can cause frustration. Enjoyment plays a huge role in learning languages because it also makes you want to return to your studies rather than avoiding it or even worse, giving up.  

So instead of spending long hours on vocab exercises and grammar studying, spend less time on that and prioritize exposing yourselves to the language and eventually, your brain will understand the language just the way a native speaker would understand.