Becoming a Linguistic Mastermind/Introduction
The task of learning a language is one which we all have to tackle sooner or later. It might be at school, where foreign languages are usually compulsory subjects. It might be in our adult lives, where bilingual workers have an advantage in the job market and where people frequently take holidays abroad. It might even be for none of those reasons —rumour has it that there are some people out there learning a language voluntarily!
In the opinion of most people, learning a new language is problematic. The received wisdom is that all languages are difficult to learn —even the relatively simple ones— and that serious progress can only be made after tedious hours of classes, homework, record cards, vocab trainers and boring monolingual dictionaries. Some people might suspect that even hard work is not enough, and that only those of us with the right DNA will have success.
So much for the 'irrefutable facts'. Now we will attempt the impossible; not only by arguing the converse, but by proving that black is white. I’m speaking in the plural because everyone should feel welcome to help the world's language learners out of their present dilemma.
Making child’s play out of learning isn’t such a far-fetched idea. In fact, it has been attempted a hundred times before. This approach has its origins in the observation that children learn their mother tongue through no fault of their own. Some people even learn multiple mother tongues; children whose parents speak different languages often become fluent in both. Furthermore we note that a feeling for a language develops automatically during a stay among native speakers.
We want to synthesize the causes of trouble-free learning so that a language can be spoken fluently and without an accent like in the conditions mentioned above. The end-product will be language courses for people who are suspicious of language courses.
The method will be formulated collectively. This assures a feedback channel from the learner to the textbook, allowing practical experience to help improve it. In addition, disagreements need not lead to partition, but in fact an enhancement of our project.
The following chapter—entitled “The Method”—is devoted to a simple way of becoming a linguistic mastermind. Its content is open to discussion. On no account could it be the last word on the subject.