How do you learn a foreign language? For most people, this includes learning the rules of grammar, memorizing vocabulary, and sometimes stuttering words with embarrassment, or watching TV series and using applications for younger ones.
A lot of time and energy is devoted to it, but sometimes without concrete results. According to the CNESCO Consensus Conference, let us remember that Learning languages Conducted in 2019, 75% of students at the end of middle school are generally unable to express verbally in correct English.
Does not this contradiction between the efforts made and the level reached reach us to question the generally chosen approach in a language course? Do we not place more importance on its cognitive dimension compared to its physical dimension? And shouldn’t getting a foreign language be considered a sport?
We often forget that “speaking” a language is a great physical activity: speaking is the release of meaningful sounds that are usually present in a given linguistic community, mainly with the help of our oral cavity (tongue, teeth) and our larynx (vocal cords). )
Adaptation is a job
To better understand the work required to learn a language, we can go to a metaphor, for example, to ask ourselves if tennis champion Rafael Nadal could produce a good badminton player. In another recording, would we listen with the same pleasure if Renat Kapusan converted his violin to cello? Since the control of one game or one instrument cannot be easily transferred to another, one may suspect it because obvious similarities can be misleading.
Similarly, if our speech and hearing are tools common to all of humanity, they must necessarily change as we move from our language to a different language.
From our infancy, by speaking and following our immediate environment, We practice The mobilization is long These phonetic elements Until the reflex “texting gestures” are available, to express understandable sounds in shared linguistic code.
When we speak a foreign language, naturally, through unconscious mimicry, we tend to use these accent gestures of the mother tongue in the target language, so that an accent can be charming, but quickly disable in the professional context or in everyday life. .
The release of sounds that are not recognized by the narrator leads to imperfect communication: we often underestimate the gap between what we think we are saying and what the speaker actually understands. To use our analogy, these automatic transfer rules and tennis are like playing badminton with fraud
Although the phonetic and phonetic dimensions of the language appear in many online tutorials or tutorials, the poor correlation between language learning in school verbo-tonal method In FLE (French is a foreign language). Students and alumni are sometimes made aware of phonetics (written transcription of sounds, which can be compared to musical theory for music).
But they very rarely practice this bodily function: the production of adequate sounds (phonics) is closely linked to the ability to perceive sound (decoding of the chain of sounds, requiring a kind of ear rehabilitation).
There is a belief among learners that language bath alone is sufficient to stimulate skill transfer. Listen / watch English, Stay abroad, Magically becomes bilingual. But does one have to become a good tennis player simply by watching or by hanging out with champions? Obviously not. Long and regular personal training is necessary to train the body to reproduce proper gestures, even autonomy.
This physical training is necessary to learn a foreign language, which some researchers compare to motor or speech therapy rehab: According to Didier Potino,
“Learning foreign phonetics at an advanced age (schoolboy, high school student) foretells the re-education of the speaking body in a game phonetic field where the body is not prepared and the mind is unaware.”
However, this vital work can be ungrateful because it “imposes restrictions on one’s body, which determines the orientations of its earlier development through the use of the French language – which is equivalent to starting a classical dance – a ten-day daily ride by foot”.
What kind of rehab is this? Simple study of Phonics (Theoretical interpretation of sounds) is not enough: a good musician must certainly work on the theory of music, but must diligently practice on his instrument to improve his performance. The key to successful learning is learning the pronunciation of one’s own language.
To do this, you need to listen to what you have to say and watch what you say, without focusing on the meaning, only the prose (the music of the language). The role of the teacher here is similar to that of a sports or music coach, making sure he or she deletes and accepts new “conversational gestures.” This is also training God must have followed ElmaleHe was ready for his American show with a language trainer.
Let’s take a concrete example. If French In your mother tongue, you unknowingly speak in a “tense manner”: with each movement you regulate the flow of exhaust air, pronouncing with equal force by pressing too hard on the last letter of the group of meanings. This pronunciation system seems so natural to you that you put it into English intuitively, which prevents you from correctly pronouncing and understanding the statements in this language.
In fact, the English language operates in a very different form of pronunciation known as “expiratory mode”: more air is retained in the mouth, and the familiar consonants and vowels are pronounced differently (short / long vowels, breathing along with the sound “h”, p and t / k Sudden discharge in the passive pronouns, the current wear of the mask helps to control this gesture: the planned breathing of air should move the mask).
So it’s not the popular “th” that creates the main pronunciation difficulty, but the complete pronunciation level that needs to be changed, as well as the rhythm similar to an electrocardiogram in English, the usual conversion of compressed and unpressed letters, affecting the distribution spelling reduction (Compare the pronunciation of an audio dictionary Diary / CompanyCanada / Canadian: The letter “a” is pronounced only once in these words with the sound / a /).
Here is an example of a modification that can be done with the help of a metronome if necessary (video example from 32’45 in the video below):
To use sports metaphor, a French speaker not only speaks English but also wants to understand himself, he must “change the discipline”: he must drop the regular body map of the 100m run in accordance with the 110m hurdles. (Exactly cross the barriers to spelling letters pronounced in English, under the penalty of disqualification!).
Now take the example Castilian Spanish : This language is characterized by a significantly improved lower jaw posture than French (“predictive method”), which affects different sounds of the tongue by stretching the induced vocal cords (apical roller R), but also the rate and volume of the speakers. Taking this fundamental difference into account will lead to the teaching of the Spanish language in terms of physical exercises, which will gradually make it possible to automate these new gestures.
In short, moving from one language to another should not be considered a purely mental process, but should induce a conscious and noticeable physical transformation (at the level of the face, we are not talking here Gestures related to non-verbal communication) In any sport, this gymnastics must be practiced very regularly and felt physically: pains (in the muscles of the face) are a sign of a successful transition!
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