I’m not sure about you, but sometimes I feel the compulsive (?) need to fully understand something that I’m learning/reading before I can move on. While this tenacity (?) is helpful in making sure that you fully comprehend a concept before progressing further, part of me feels like it’s not that helpful in foreign language learning.
Russian is the third foreign language that I’m learning and over the years, I’ve developed my own style of language learning. Which, may or may not work for someone else. But I truly do not believe in revising the same materials for language learning. I also do not believe in the need to know every single thing on that page / chapter before moving on.
Picking up a language is about exposing yourself to a wide range of materials. There’s no point in re-reading what you had learnt for “revision”. Your reading speed and parsing abilities increase when you find 10 articles to read, not reading the same article 10 times. (That’s an exaggeration, but the logic stands). Learning a language in the classroom could “trap” you in thinking that “revision” is important. It doesn’t help when you are faced with an upcoming exam that supposedly takes reference from a certain syllabus or a range of chapters from a book. It makes you feel that you (only) have to review a certain set of materials to score, and that it itself goes against the nature of language learning. And perhaps also learning in general.
Back to the question of when should we move on? Here’s what I practice:
- There is no need to remember all the vocabulary that you learnt
- Do not panic (or doubt yourself) when you don’t remember stuff, especially vocabulary you learnt in a list (i.e. no context)
- You are not a dictionary, and you shouldn’t be able to function as one
- Don’t remember a grammar point? Find more example sentences. Understand the concept. Don’t worry about “remembering”
- Once you worked through the materials once, it’s time to move on
- Don’t remember anything? Get another textbook/use another material and learn it all over again
- There is no need for repeated learning using the same material
The Russian textbook that I’m using is quite good in teaching grammar, but there’s a conspicuous lack dialogues / passages and vocabulary is introduced in a list / as part of conjugation practice. sigh. I don’t remember much, but it doesn’t stop me from moving on.
And ordering more textbooks that should have dialogues / passages 😛
Ordered a couple of books on Gmarket and I can’t wait for them to arrive!!!