The VARK Model of learning which was developed by Neil Fleming in 1987 talks about four different kinds of learners namely: Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic. Each group of learners takes inputs in a different manner. The visual learners learn by visualising the relationship between ideas. Auditory Learning prefers to hear info rather than reading it or seeing it. Read/Write learners meanwhile learn best while they are reading or writing and the last kind Kinesthetic learners learn by doing things. Different people rely on different methods to learn the same thing and the VARK model is an excellent example of the same concept.
Now just like people learn information using different methods, there are different methods to learn languages as well. Given below are the different methods you might use to learn a language.
- Total Immersion
The original method of learning a language. In fact, it is through this method that we learned our mother tongue in first place. You learn the language as a child because everyone else is speaking the same thing. Initially, you make a lot of mistakes. You use the minimal vocabulary that you have frequently along with signs and pointing to express yourself. You eventually learn more words until you learn the language fluently.
You can learn a language as an adult using the same method. However, there are certain preconditions to doing this. You need to be in a country where the language you want to learn spoken all the time. Since learning the language in this manner also means interacting with people, it also means it would be better if you are an extrovert.
But it is not as though this method hasn’t got any disadvantages. While it is true that you will learn day to day vocabulary quite easily, if anything not normal happens you would struggle. But in defense of total immersion, the charm here lies in learning while making mistakes and you would make a lot of mistakes. This method is quite time-consuming when compared to any other approach. For the introverted types, especially the ones who recently started learning this isn’t the most ideal of ways. So it is always good to remember that total immersion is a journey where you learn from the bits and pieces of lessons and experience you take along the way.
- Classroom Study
There are two kinds of travelers. The ones who take joy in the journey and the ones who focus on getting to the destination. While one takes pleasure in the journey itself; come what may, the other is a meticulous planner with the sole focus on getting to the goal. One of them is a Total Immersion kind of guy while the other is the Classroom Study nerd.
Classroom studies do not take learning a language as an experience but as a set of rules and instruction just like any subject. You start with the words and phrases that are most commonly used, you learn the grammar, you learn the vocab etc. There would be study materials, your class has a fixed schedule and there might even be exams to test out your proficiency. This is the method that you learn in any language class be it English, French or anything else.
This is one of the best methods to have a solid understanding of a language. For a person who might be relocating to a new country for employment or educational purposes, this is the ideal way to study.
- Independent Study
Apart from the two mentioned above, independent study is the way to go for those who are good at self-motivated study. Also called the Flashcard method, where students would be shown flashcards with vocabulary/short phrases/sentences to memorise followed by short sentences and then bigger paragraphs. In this method, you progress to harder material after you have completed the easier ones. Step by Step. It is worth noting that flashcard method is a method often emphasized by teachers as it complements the classroom approach quite well. When studying for CAT Exams, coaching classes often provide flash cards to boost your English vocabulary skills.
In recent times this method has been taken to the next level, with the advent of extremely popular software like Duolingo which has made learning language much easier. What Duolingo has done is to have an online site as well as app having micro lessons that you can learn anywhere and at any time. It has now allowed students to make slow and steady progress in the language of their choice during the time and place of their choice.
Of course, it is not as though this method does not have its own drawbacks. You learn to read, write and listen easily but there is no one to practice speaking in a language. But for being marginally competent in a language like when you are on a holiday this method suffices.
So the first method relies on your environment, the second one emphasizes spoon feeding while the last one is reliant on yourself. But the best method is a combination of all three. It is a bit like cricket. Since it took the narrow Streets of Bombay, a good Coach in Ramakant Achrekar and lots of self-practise in order to give birth to the God.