If you read my article on language learning, you probably noticed a quote by John Grinder on language learning. John Grinder is one of the co-creators of NLP and is a very intelligent man. What is remarkable about him is his ability to learn fast. That includes learning a new language. In one of his seminars he mentioned that it took him 11 days (!) to learn to speak reasonably fluently Swahili.
In this post you will find some quotes by John Grinder on language learning that I was able to find so far.
[John Grinder]: I said there were two extreme advantages that children have over professional serious adults. The first one we talked about ad nauseum: the accumulated knowledge base, the internal maps which constitute filters which prevent us from assimilation at high speed of new patterning.
And the second one is what? What do children have that we don’t have or rather, what pattern do we have that you don’t find in children which constitutes an impediment to learning?
[participant]: The insistence on imposing language on experience.
[John Grinder]: I would say that’s number three. I am looking for number two. This is important.
[John Grinder]: In what form do inhibitions, which are impediments to learning take in adults, which you don’t see in children?
[participant]: Fear of failure.
[John Grinder]: Or, even more generally, fear of making fools of ourselves. We don’t like–as adults, normally–we don’t like making mistakes publicly.
Think about your experience in learning a second or third or fourth or whatever language. If you’re good at it… There are many strategies. My personal strategy is to make as many mistakes as possible in the presence of native speakers. And as soon as I see a wince or a confusion, I go “what?” in the language and they tell me mmm and they give the right form. And for the next three or four sentences somehow I will weave that right form into my sentences which is my way of consolidating it.
And when they offer me feedback in the language–I stay inside the language, I don’t come out to another language to get feedback–when they offer me feedback, corrections in the language, my response is so positive, they will continue to offer it.
If you’re offered a correction as you’re working on acquiring a new language and when the correction is offered, you go “I am so sorry!”, they will never offer you another correction.
On the other hand, if you go “Great! Again! Tell me again! Papapa”, and it’s a very positive experience for you and for them, they will offer you corrections until you don’t want to hear them anymore.
So children provoke the world to correct them. Children intuitively recognize that making mistakes is the single most important part of the learning process and they have no self-consciousness about it. Mistakes for a child are not mistakes, they are an essential part of the learning process.
If you can achieve that kind of posture in language learning or any other skill set, you will accelerate your ability to assimilate the pattern.