2 days ago, I wrote a blog recommending some books to learn grammar on your own. If you wish to read that blog first, please click here.
Today, I want to give examples of how to use what you learn in daily life.
For example, let’s say you are learning a pattern from Raymond Murphy’s book on how to use “for” and “since.”
Sentence: I have been studying since 3 o’clock this afternoon.
Sentence: I have been studying for 4 hours.
You can practice this pattern in your daily life by substituting the subjects and verbs. For example,
Substitute: I have been cooking since 6 o’clock this morning.
Substitute: I have been cooking for 4 hours.
Substitute: My daughter has been on the phone since 10:30 this morning.
Substitute: My daughter has been on the phone for 2 hours.
By using subjects and verbs from your daily life, it makes the transition from book to real life easier.
My suggestion is to NOT do this when you are conversing with someone. If you are this mindful of forming grammatically correct sentences while you are chatting, it could interrupt the flow of the conversation. You or your friend may enjoy the conversation less. You want FLOW in conversation, expressing your ideas so the other understands you.
Simply practice this when you are not engaged in a conversation. If you make this a habit, soon you will transfer your deliberate practice into your conversation without thinking about it.
Yesterday, a client was practicing this technique in our session. When she was in college, she used to put into songs what she needed to remember for her tests. Singing helps her solidify the information. So while we were walking and talking yesterday, Julia put into songs the patterns that she’s been practicing. And I joined in. We made up tunes. We laughed. It was fun.
And talking about fun, here’s another key to remembering what you learn. Many years ago, I had the opportunity to observe a French teacher in action. She taught both children and adults. When she taught children, she would have them sit on the carpet, spread out a deck of cards, and point to different ones. The children would identify the cards in French. And they had fun playing this game.
With the adult class, Joanne would present a pattern without explaining in English. After several examples, the pattern would become obvious. Then she goes around the circle and practice the pattern with each person. When I left the class 45 minutes later, the class members were already using several patterns with ease and confidence.
Joanne shared that most children who take a foreign language class, when tested after summer vacation, retain about 20% of what they learned. However, her students retained about 80%.
I think 2 keys to this success is due to her students having fun while they are learning. They are relaxed. I suppose it’s like dining in an enjoyable atmosphere. Food seems to taste better, and probably better for digestion, when we enjoy our dining experience. Maybe we “digest” our learning better in a relaxed atmosphere too.
The other key to this success is that Joanne waits for her students to be at least 80% confident of their learning before she gives them a test. Many teachers give tests before students have a solid grasp of the material. So testing becomes an experience of stress rather than one of feeling successful. Picture your feeling in relationship to the subject when you see a test score of 45% and when you see a test score of 95%. You probably feel more confident and eager to learn more about the subject with a test score of 95%.
Have fun playing with your new learning techniques!