language acquisition

Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski (KUL)

On Saturday, I'll be traveling to Poland again, for a 3 week stretch.  Like last year, I'll be taking a Polish language course at the Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski (Catholic University of Lublin) in Lublin, Poland.  The 9-10 hour plane ride should afford me lots of time to read!

When I took the course last year, I had a really strong grasp on conscious grammar but was rather weak with speaking, understanding and vocabulary.  On the first day they give you a placement test, to see what level you should be at.  It has a written component, which I did really well on, and an "interview-ish" spoken component, which I bombed.  Even so, they placed me in the highest level, bardzo zaadwansowany.

The fundamental misunderstanding about language learning.

There are two distinct activities:

  • Linguistics. This means language science. It is the conscious study of the components of a language or language in general. This is like all other sciences and intellectual persuits: biology, chemistry, mathematics, etc..
  • Language learning, or rather, language aquisition (which is the term I'll use for the rest of this article). This means developing the ability to understand, speak, read or write in a language. This is not a conscious activity, but rather training your brain, programming it, more like muscle memory than studying math.

Both are worthy pursuits. Some people are interested in only one, some people are interested in both (I'm interested in both).

However, the great, fundamental misunderstanding, is that most people believe that developing the first (linguistics) will lead to the second (language acquisition). This is completely false.

As Steve Kaufmann likes to quote:

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