Thursday, November 14, 2013

How I Am learning Hindi and The Brain


My Indian Culture Class and a Volunteer/Friend...More about my students

People all over the web and in real life have been asking how I am learning Hindi and honestly the answer is that I am using as many resources and techniques as I possibly can. There are many arguments for the best method and honestly I think that many of these arguments are valid; however, none are complete. I believe that more than one tool is necessary for learning a language.

Your brain doesn't function on one level but many. Learning a language is not learning one skill but many at the same time. The more connections we make the more we will retain.

Teaching language arts to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities has helped me to see the varied ways that the brain learns. Though my students brains work differently than many of us, it's almost easier to understand and more plain to see these layers.

Oversimplified, the more teaching styles you can combine into one class the more brain activity will take place creating more connections which means more will be retained and recalled later because of these connections.

This is especially true with language. It is is fascinating to see the differences between how reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills are developed. These four areas are developed at different speeds and through different types of practice. They are also different for different people.

Another critical aspect to language learning is being able to think, both on the subconscious level and the more structured grammatical level. Both of these are essential to understanding a new word order and sentence structure and therefore language.

Pimsleur argues that language learning in schools is messed up because we focus so much on grammar and though I 100% agree that the way kids naturally learn is ideal and Pimsleur was onto something huge with this idea, I also realize that the world a baby grows up in is different than the world an adult lives in. That being said I am using as many children's resources for learning Hindi as I can and surrounding myself with the beautiful language while using other more traditional adult language learning resources at the same time.

I suppose this is enough for one post. I will list the resources here soon and plan to share specifics about individual ones later...