Continuing the series, today we’re sharing two more tips for Language Learning inspired by our weekly bilingual drawing lessons.
5. Don’t be afraid of the gaps!
Our trusty guide and teacher always reminds us to leave small gaps between lines when we’re making shapes and creating drawings. The reason for this is that when we are looking at a drawing our brain is participating in the experience and is “filling in the gaps”. As students, trying to create a drawing, the right-side of our brain has a hard time accepting this - it wants to have things lined up in a neat and organized way. Doing this hardens the drawing and makes it look less natural. In the real world, both sides of our brain are working together to observe and interpret the image, so drawings are much more interesting and engaging when the brain has to do a little work to “fill in the blanks”.
This concept very much applies to language learning. I always encourage my students to focus on the structure of a language and on being able to put phrases together, rather than worrying about following specific grammar rules, or feeling like they have to remember specific words (vocabulary). In our sessions, we focus on the language experience, using the language in real-life conversation, and allowing ourselves to use the tools at our disposal to “fill in the blanks”. Very quickly, students develop the habit of looking things up and immediately applying the new information to the current situation (much like we do with our native language) - and this is a key to making the knowledge permanent - we’re using both sides of our brain: allowing for the gaps (right-brain) and using our tools to fill them in as needed (left-brain).
6. Don’t underestimate the importance of small efforts
When we first started doing these lessons, we did not expect that only one session per week would make much of a difference in terms of improving our drawing skills. We were doing it mainly for the fun of it and to provide a new and unique language learning experience to our students. However, after several weeks of doing this on a constant and consistent basis we have seen so much improvement, not just in our drawing skills, but also in the way we notice and perceive the world around us.
The same thing happens with language learning. It’s easy for us to have an expectation of how much we should be learning in a given time frame, and to have a point of view about how much effort is “good enough” - but, the most important thing that we always remind our students is that every little bit they’re doing counts. It all adds up - quite literally: our brain integrates language information in a way that our conscious minds cannot always perceive. Even if you’re only reviewing previously learned information for a few minutes each week, you’re practicing thinking in the language, and this will translate into your life in ways that you cannot always predict. So we at Café Culture want to remind you to always be proud of every little bit that you do to reinforce your language learning.
We hope that you’re finding these tips helpful and in the next few weeks, we will continue to share more tips to help you with your language learning (click here to Subscribe).
Thanks for reading and happy language learning !
< Here's Janeth's drawing
^ and here's the drawing we were able to make with her expert guidance...