Emersion Learning 5-30-2010

Regular language learning, as I’ve experienced it, is basically this: read/pronounce, translate, memorize translation. Throw in a rudimentary learning/understanding of the foreign grammar and you start to arrange translated words/concepts into sentences that are palatable to native speakers. The experience of emersion for me has been very informative and incredibly interesting. It is a truly accurate description because the best way to do it and the degree to which it more easily works is determined by how much you are submerged in the topic. This includes being present rather than withdrawn. First of all, everything is learning. I learned the word “hot” two days ago, not from a dictionary, class or homework assignment, but from saying hello to people on my walk to and from class on a day that was “Toplo”/hot. It’s obvious, and un-amazing and all that, but it’s also illuminating of a more complete understanding of how people, or at least I, actually learn. People don’t generally equate learning and memory as synonymous, except in the case of class topics, with memorization being a subset of means to the end of “learning.” Basically we equate them like this: “remember later, what you were able to learn now,” separate and complementary. This is different from considering learning and memory as being nearly equivalent. Every moment of everyday you are learning what is happening around you, precisely as you are memorizing it. Whether you are submerged in the Bulgarian language, a football game or computer programming, your amount of presence and focus in those moments defines your learning or recollection of those topics or events. Increasingly this learning process is being defined not as a set of tasks, lessons or homework assignments (those are all still huge), but as a lifestyle. The Bulgarian word, “Moi” could be learned from paper as, “Moi”=My/mine, but it can also be learned independent of translation, strictly as what it actually implies – something that belongs to or is of the person speaking. “Moi Braht”/My Brother, rather than “(Moi=My)+(Braht=Brother)=My Brother”. “Teb” means “you” in the context of “to you” or “of you” but for me it was learned as “the thing of the person being spoken to.” In these instances, the language learning process skipped the translation step and was simply learning a word as a sound with a meaning, rather than that with a translation in the middle of it. Bla bla bla. Anyway, the meat and potatoes of my learning remains class time but I’d say, outside learning is creeping up around 30% of comprehension. It’s a good thing. They are all good things. Love you guys. Until next time, -C

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