Foreign languages learning is a typical experience for many people, it is fascinating and challenging at any age. There is a significant number of reasons why people start to learn a foreign language or go on making their knowledge just perfect. Some people want to become teachers of a foreign language; some want to develop business relations with partners from other countries, some people would like to emigrate to a different country and so on. There are a lot of methods of learning foreign languages as well. There are old and common ones, and there are a lot of new techniques and innovations, there are methods that are used for small children and grow-ups at the different stages of languages acquisition as well.
There are certain principles of language learning, which are important in all situations and for all learners. There are three main groups of them: cognitive tenets, active principles, and scientific principles. Cognitive principles help the learner to develop automaticity in learning language forms, to concentrate upon the rewards that will follow the excellent achievements in learning, to think over learning strategies that could help him acquire the languages better and faster.
When you learn a foreign language you certainly are given some tips and advises concerning the main strategies you have to use when learning words or grammar rules, but sometimes your teacher is not able to choose the best ones that suit you, or you can think over some other techniques, which you teacher doesn’t use, thus it is really important to use you own imagination in this relation and maybe this will be the way to achieve better result in learning process.
Affective principles help the learners by taking risks and experiments, by involving some cultural aspects connected for example with the country where the language is originally spoken and so on. And at last the linguistic principles are important for controlling the effect of native language, which can be both positive ads negative when learning the foreign language, for fluency and use in correlation with accuracy and use and so on. This was certainly just a brief overview of the basic principles of language learning.
As it was already mentioned, there is a great number of the methods used for language learning.
When I only started to learn a foreign language, my teacher used the classical method – the grammar-translation method. Its main focus is on grammatical rules and memorization of vocabulary. Learners are using mostly mother language with little active use of target language; they are taught rules and words using mother language as well. This is good when the rules are complicated or when learners have a little vocabulary. At the very beginning, it was better for me when the rules were explained in my mother language as I could understand them and remember. But on the other hand when long explanations were given to me it was rather hard to remember the rules, and sometimes I could get confused by the number of exceptions or could not quite well understand some rules without good examples or situations.
When this method is used when the words are taught all separately, this is sometimes rather hard as there are almost no associations, and for me, it is easier to remember a word about some situation or with the help of some association. But again, at the beginner’s stage, I could learn the separate words of common usage.
Reading of classical texts starts at the early stage. Reading is certainly a good practice for learning a language, for learning some basic or commonly used grammar and word patterns, but if to start from some difficult texts reading becomes boring for me, if I have to concentrate only upon grammar and vocabulary, I lose the main idea of the story and thus get bored really soon and again lose any associations with the situations where this or that word was used. We certainly started from reading some easy texts, including the words that we had learned before.
Thus the classical method is good for beginners, but even for them it has certain drawbacks and in most cases could be successfully substituted by other, later methods.
The next method that was used by my teachers of foreign languages was Audio-lingual method. I received the new material presented in the form of dialogues, which helped me to understand the usages of grammar and words in connection with some certain situation. Usually, learners have to memorize a lot of set phrases, sometimes is it difficult, but it is necessary as all languages have their peculiarities as you cannot always simply translate the phrase from your mother language and hope that others will understand you correctly. I learned the structural patterns in the form of drills, drill this is an exercise when you have to repeat something for many times to remember it, for me it is was necessary at the beginner’s stage, later on, it is also boring in a way. This method doesn’t provide a long or sometimes any grammar explanation, grammar is presented in with the help of inductive analogy, this helped me to understand the cases of usage of this or that grammatical pattern, but sometimes it is hard without concrete grammar explanation.
All the new words I learnt in context, for me it was better than to learn just single words, when you know exactly the situations the word is used in, you can better remember the word and besides you can avoid confusions of some words, that might mean absolutely different things in different situations, or just cannot be used in some cases.
The method I liked most of all was the communicative method. The name of it could already explain the main idea of it. All learners have their concrete goals, but in most cases, we need to learn how to communicate our ideas using the foreign language. In the process of learning as well as in the process of communication the positive results are achieved through mutual trust and support. Learns are allowed to use their native language and receive the translations from their teacher. Grammar and vocabulary are taught inductively. What I like about this method is that as soon as I feel that I can say this or that phrase using the foreign language I can do so, thus I get the choice, either to try to speak the target language or if I do not feel that I can do that yet, I can use my native language. This method includes more techniques than others. Thus it makes the learning process interesting and challenging for both the learners and their teachers as well. I managed to reach my goal and to learn to communicate my ideas using the target language; I am able as well to make translations and to understand the native speakers.
Overall, learning a foreign language could be as much interesting as useful there is no need to mention that people who learn several languages can develop their communicative skills, their intellectual abilities and so on. What is important in the learning process is the correct choice of the method of learning it according to the stage and the age of the learners.
That should never mean that only children are allowed to play games, and grown-ups should just sit and learn the bare rules, but the games for different ages would be as well different. It is also important that you never get bored when you learn and that you get used to analyzing the learning process yourself, to be able to choose the most suitable method of the technique for yourself and to make a better and faster progress in acquiring the foreign language.