Hey everyone! I’m excited to announce that I’m going to partake in the Language Learning Reading Challenge along with Shannon Kennedy from Eurolinguiste, Lindsay Dow from Lindsay Does Languages, Chiara Grandola from The Runaway Daydreamer, and Mairin Millward from Language Learning Journey.
So first what is the Language Learning Reading Challenge?
The challenge is reading one book per month, dealing with topics such as culture, language learning, general learning techniques, history, and we’ll be reading both in our native languages and target languages. We can pick any or as many languages as we want to and we can read in the languages at any proficiency level, including graded readers, children’s books, academic books, or any other genre.
From Shannon’s blog:
The Books that make up the Language Reading Challenge
1. Book about the culture of the area you’re studying.
2. Book in your target language (translation of a book from your native language)
3. Travel book or travelogue related to region that uses the language you’re studying (could be worded better, certainly)
4. A book about language (not a language textbook)
5. A coursebook/lesson book (chance to finish up one you’ve been working one or work through one)
6. A book written by a language blogger
7. History of the region
8. History of the language
9. Book in your target language (originally written in your target language)
10. A book on learning strategies (any learning strategy, not just language related, but it can be if you like)
11. A book set in the country of your target language (can be fiction or nonfiction)
12. A comic book in your target language
The Four Agreements and Language Learning
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz has been one of the most influential books I have read recently. Having already read it in English, I wanted to read the book in Spanish because Don Miguel Ruiz originally comes from Mexico and was raised by his mother who was a curadera (healer) and his grandfather who was a nagual (a shaman in the Toltec tradition) and with their help trained to become a nagual himself. It's a more spiritual kind of book but it's also got quite a lot of practical advice to apply to anything in life. Reading what these four agreements were I could easily see how they could be fitted into language learning.
Don Miguel Ruiz explains that the Four Agreements are a code of conduct that reveals our limiting beliefs keeping us from living the life we want and can help us overcome those beliefs to replace them with a feeling of abundance, happiness, freedom, and love.
What Are the Four Agreements? (Quoted from Don Miguel Ruiz)
1. Be Impeccable with Your Word – “Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or others. Use the power of your word in the direction of love. “
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally – “Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
3. Don’t Make Assumptions – “Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”
4. Always Do Your Best – “Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are happy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”
Don Miguel Ruiz states that as humans, we dream (in other words create visions in our heads) all the time, and that collectively as humanity we created the dream of the planet. This collective dream (you can think of it more as a vision) includes all of society’s rules, beliefs, religions, cultures, and ways of being, along with its governments, schools, social events, and holidays.
So how does this apply to language learning?
We grow up as children at first with the capacity to learn all the sounds and languages in the world. We then become linguistically “domesticated” by our parents and society as to what language(s) we are brought up to speak, and through language we are instructed the rules of our culture and society.
We played around with language all the time, made silly mistakes in our speech and we and our parents laughed about it. The parents were simply happy that we kept making progress in building our linguistic capacity in our first language. We didn’t learn any grammar rules and never poured our heads into textbooks when we learned our first language, and we had FUN with it and explored our creative capacity in our native language.
When we learn a foreign language in school, whether it be elementary, middle, or high school, we are taught in language classrooms how to learn a language, which is with a teacher and textbook and vocabulary lists and grammar rules in the classroom. For most language learners, who start out eager to learn a foreign language, the joy for learning a foreign language is sucked out of them when they have to pour their heads in these textbooks, learning and repeating vocabulary and grammar rules, then stringing them together into sentences and being tested on that.
They always have to think about knowing the right grammar and the right vocabulary and they worry so much about making mistakes in their foreign language that they don’t even try to do it.
While the grammar-textbook-translation method is suited to more analytical learners, not all language learners think in that way. I am not saying that we don’t need textbooks or grammar at all; they’re necessary for REFERENCE. I feel that most people prefer to learn languages in a more intuitive way, whether it be auditory, visual, kinesthetic, or reading/writing.
I am an auditory and visual learner (mostly auditory). Dr. Stephen Krashen’s theory of comprehensible input, Benny Lewis’ Speak from Day 1 method, A.J. Hoge’s Effortless English method, and Steve Kaufmann’s intensive listening and reading method, among others, all point to a more intuitive way of language learning. They all say:
LEARN PHRASES NOT WORDS
DON’T STUDY GRAMMAR RULES
HOLISTIC LEARNING (LISTENING, READING, SPEAKING, WRITING)
REPETITION IS THE MOTHER OF SKILL
CONSISTENCY AND PROGRESS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN PERFECTION
LEARN WITH REAL CONTENT IN YOUR TARGET LANGUAGE
The Four Agreements of Language Learning
1. Be Impeccable with Your Word – Speak with integrity about your language learning. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against your own learning process or that of others. Use the power of your word in the direction of dedication to and passion for the language.
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally – Nothing the language challenges you with is because of you. What other speakers and learners say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own learning process. When you are immune to the opinions of others, you won’t feel like you’re failing at language learning.
3. Don’t Make Assumptions – Find the courage to ask questions about how to say things in your language and how to understand the culture of your language. Find the courage to express what you really want to say in your language. Communicate with others as clearly as you can about your language-learning journey to avoid overwhelm, perfectionism, and anxiety. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your language learning.
4. Always Do Your Best – Your best in language learning is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you make leaps and bounds of progress some days as opposed to hitting plateaus and making no progress other days. Language learning takes time. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, enjoy the process, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-criticism, and regret.
I certainly hope that you all enjoyed my post for this time! Please feel free to leave a comment in the comment box below! Let me know what your experiences with language learning are, if you've read The Four Agreements, and how you think you can apply them in your language learning!
Enhance Your Voyage, Learn A Language!