Saturday, July 30, 2011

Quick Reminder: Practice makes perfect

I came across a quote posted by @CoachCoreyWayne on Twitter. The quote is by the German literary great Johann Von Goethe and says, "Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do." This quote is relevant to whatever endeavor you are engaged in, of course, but it caught my attention because it definitely applies to language learning. 

In the classroom, I often say it's never enough to simply understand; you have to practice--even when it's easy. Advanced students who mess up the simple present tense when speaking are often the ones who don't see the need to practice it. These students can complete exercises perfectly and do them in less than a minute, but when it comes to expressing themselves, they stumble and mess up because proper use of the tense just hasn't set in, and it doesn't set in unless they practice. 

Sometimes it's difficult to get some students excited about an activity, however engaging or fun--in my opinion--it is if they think the grammar point is too easy. Ironically, the students who are eager to participate are often the ones who don't need the practice. Their language skills are good because they enjoy learning and using it. On the other hand, the ones who resist the activity are often the ones who really need it. Simply put, they have poor language skills because they're not excited about practicing the language. Their language skills are poor because they don't practice, but it's because they don't practice that their language skills are poor. It's the chicken-or-the-egg scenerio of language learning. 

I hope this Quick Reminder makes sense. If you are a student, you really need to get excited about your new language and eagerly participate in using it in the classroom even when the lesson seems too easy. Practicing will eliminate the errors you make when you speak. 

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