Learning foreign languages: skills versus knowledge
Knowledge or skill?
Does confrontation make sense?
In our opinion, totally.
For example, knowledge of the alphabet and reading skills.
Reading without knowledge of the alphabet is impossible, but knowledge of the alphabet without reading skills is pointless.
And so with any knowledge.
In fact, the wording "knowledge of a foreign language" is meaningless.
There are four skills:
- perception by ear;
- speaking (the ability to express one’s thoughts out loud in a form accessible to a native speaker);
The expression “I speak a foreign language” makes much more sense, meaning that the speaker has mastered the first two of the above skills.
These skills are closely related to each other and can be combined under a common label: speaking.
Speaking skill is practically not related to reading and writing skills.
Given the above, we can note that traditional academic language teaching is fundamentally wrong, for it is aimed at acquiring knowledge and not at training skills. No wonder this training is so ineffective.
Some protectors of the traditional grammar translational method would say that this method develops thinking and it is definitely true. But mathematic and formal logic develop thinking as well. And even better. Learning how to program develop thinking too. But when we learn a foreign language we always want a practical result -- first of all, ability to speak or speaking skill.
Skills are trained directly.
The swimming skill is training in swimming, and the skill is cycling, cycling.
Learning languages is not special.
The skill of speaking is trained by speaking, and the skill of reading is by reading.
You should start learning a language with a practice of speaking skills.
A reading and writing skills set aside.
Continuing the analogy with swimming, before you start swimming you need to learn how to stay on the water.
There are always two stages to training a skill:
- first: mastering the basics to the level of use with pleasure;
- second: actual use of the skill.
The duration of the first stage may be relatively short.
The minimal speaking skill can be acquired in one week with a properly organized training process.
The duration of the second stage is the rest of your life.
What knowledge is required to master a speaking skill?
A minimum knowledge of grammar and a minimum (400 - 500) vocabulary is required.
But, and this is a traditional mistake of academic training, this knowledge can and should be acquired implicitly in the process of training a skill.
Those. instead of memorizing grammar rules and word lists, we listen and repeat phrases and thus acquire the necessary knowledge and the skill.
Try our basic spoken Spanish course.
It is intended directly for training speaking skills from scratch.