The Perfect Time To Learn Languages Is Now – The Linguist on Language

The second Golden key is the need to spend time with the language.
This means engaging with the language itself, not dealing with explanations about the language or exercises that test your knowledge and your patience. Spending time in the classroom with other students who don’t speak the language, or with a teacher explaining things, is not necessarily the best way to spend time with the language.

Listening to the language itself, as spoken by native speakers, whether in face-to-face conversations, or listening to an interesting podcast on an MP3 player, are more intensive language experiences. So is reading in the language.

via The Perfect Time To Learn Languages Is Now – The Linguist on Language.

Aristotle teaches that there are three things in the soul: habits, passions and powers. A habit is formed by repeated action. Strong habits bestow facility and enjoyment in action, while neglected habits become atrophied.

There is a certain idea we’ve got to latch on to in language learning: A language is a habit, or a series of habits. The ability to understand and speak our native language is an extraordinarily complex habit which we began to develop in our earliest years and have continued to perfect daily through our lives.

Foreign languages though are too often treated like certifications. We take Spanish 1 this year, and then take the summer off, and expect to jump back in to Spanish 2 in the fall. Meanwhile we have forgotten most of what we learned, and may perhaps even have learned poorly, but we may still imagine that after Spanish 3 we will be “fluent.”

To learn a language, we must spend time with it every day. It should become part of who we are. There are many enjoyable ways to spend time with Latin. Praying the Liturgy of the Hours, at least for Night Prayer, is a great place to start, and never gets old. There are also some very accessible audio files you can obtain and listen to while driving or perhaps during meals, in accord with the monastic tradition. You can download and listen to the entire New Testament in the Latin Vulgate, and the Boston Catholic Journal offers audio files of the entire Psalter, prayerfully read, as well as the Most Holy Rosary.

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