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学一门语言并非易事,不过多了解学外语的科学或许会进步更快。Belle Beth Cooper在Crew博客上分享了她的观点。

How we learn language人们学习语言的方式

Learning language is something we’re born to do. As children, we learn to
think, learn to communicate and intuitively pick up an understanding of grammar
rules in our mother tongue, or native language. From then on, we learn all new
languages in relation to the one we first knew—the one that we used to
understand the world around us for the first time ever.


Learning a foreign language学习一门外语

When it comes to learning a second language, adults are at a disadvantage. As
we age, our brain’s plasticity (its ability to create new neurons and synapses)
is reduced. Following brain damage that causes a loss of speech, for instance,
researchers have observed that children are more likely to regain the power of
speech, by creating new pathways in the brain to replace the damaged ones.


There’s still hope, though. A study of secondary language pronunciation found
that some learners who started as adults scored as well as native speakers. It’s
also been shown that motivation to learn can improve proficiency, so if you
really want to learn a language, it’s not necessarily too late.


Give yourself the best chance给自己最好的机会

If you want to put in the effort to learn a new language, try these methods
that are known for improving learning and memory.


Spaced repetition


Spaced repetition is a proven memory technique that helps you keep what
you’ve learned strong in your mind. The way it works is you revise each word or
phrase you’ve learned in spaced intervals. Initially the intervals will be
smaller: you might revise a new word a few times in one practicesession, and
then again the next day. Once you know it well you’ll be able to leave days or
weeks between revisions without forgetting it.


Learn before you sleep


One of the many benefits we get from sleep is that it helps to clear out the
brain’s “inbox” – the temporary storage of new information and memories from our
time awake. We need sleep (even just a nap) to move anything we’ve recently
learned into our brain’s long term storage. Once it’s safely stored, spaced
repetition will help to strengthen the connection so we can recall the
information faster and more accurately.


Study content, not the language


Although most language learning classes and progams focus on purely learning
the language, a study of high school students studying French found that when
they studied another subject taught in French instead of a class purely to teach
French, the students tested better for listening and were more motivated to
learn. Students in the standard French class scored better on reading and
writing tests, so both methods clearly have merit.


Once you’ve mastered the basics of a new language, try including some content
on a topic you’re interested in to improve your understanding. You could have
conversations with friends learning the same language, read articles online or
listen to a podcast to test yourcomprehension.


Practice a little everyday


If you’re busy, you might be tempted to put off your studying and cram in a
big chunk of learning once every week or two. However, studying a little every
day is actually more effective. Because your brain’s “inbox” has limited space
and only sleep can clear it out, you’ll hit the limit of how much you can take
in pretty quickly if you study for hours at a time.


Mix new and old


The brain craves novelty but attempting to learn lots of new words or phrases
at once can be overwhelming. Novel concepts work best when they’re mixed in with
familiar information.


When you add new words to your vocabulary, try spacing them in-between words
you’re already familiar with so they’ll stand out—your brain will latch onto
them more easily.