Language Learning Etiquette


Today we celebrate the European Day of Languages, which aims to encourage language learning across Europe. I truly believe that language learning has a crucial role in our everyday life. On this occasion I have prepared a post about language learning etiquette "dos and don'ts". These are not rules carved in stone, but I think it's wise to take them into consideration. 

  • Correct the language learner! We are in the process of learning. It's better to correct the mistakes, than letting the learner use incorrect grammar or words.

  • Be patient! - I know, it 's annoying sometimes to wait until the other puts together a sentence, but it's a very important work that's going on, the person is improving a skill. Wait patiently until the other person finishes. Sometimes we don't want to be embarrassed by our slowness and want someone to interrupt and rescue us. If this is the case, then fine.

  • Gift giving - offer books, magazines or newspapers, recommend movies or videos to the language learners, It's thoughtful and nice, not mentioning that it is not expensive at all, and you can help to improve the person's language skills. They will thank you for that later. 

  • Enourage! - This is one of the most important "rule". You don't have to exagerate, but please do let the language learner know that they are doing good. It might be too little for a native speaker, but it's a boost for a language learner, who gets the feedback that s/he is on the right direction. Praise gives motivation.

  • Don't speak slowly or use a dumb language with a person learning it. Don't assume that the other person is completely stupid, just because s/he can't get into an elevated conversation right away. Let's not use grammatically incorrect sentences or very basic words with the language learner, becasue it makes things worse. If we speak to fast, or our partner in conversation does not understand what we are saying, will politely let us know.

  • It is advisable not to ask where a language learner is from, first thing, when you hear an accent. At least pretend you're interested in whatever else the conversation is about for a little while before you call anybody out on their imperfect pronunciation. 

  • Never choose the easy way! I mentioned above that patience is important, but I know we tend to get tired after a while if our interlocutor is too slow, and this way our conversation is not fun, but if the other party really wants to learn that language, never, under any circumstances, never switch to an"easy" or "lighter" common language. This conveys the message to our interlocutor that the path s/he is on now is not successful, which then will cause frustration and anxiety, and then the person will never dare to speak in that language.

If you think, there might be anything missing, please let me know!

Thank you to Malachi Rempen for the inspiration!