Bosley, the Language Bear

An Old Adage Can Help You to Learn More Effectively

By Kathy Steinemann

Remember the saying: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’? When learning a language, this adage is of key importance. Do you know why? Read on!

Consider the following sentence:

The battered old red truck plunged over the embankment, down the rocky cliff, and into the icy cold river.

What did you see in your mind as you read the sentence?

Did you envision letters and words, or did you form a mental picture, complete with complex images – perhaps of trees alongside the road, a shocked driver inside, huge boulders, and rushing water with whirlpools and eddies?

If English is your native language, you may have formed a vivid snapshot in your mind, supplementing it with details extracted from your imagination and based on your life experiences – a kind of mental movie. You may have felt your fingers tighten around an imaginary steering wheel or experienced an involuntary holding of your breath in anticipation of the plunge into the water.

Remember the saying: ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’?

When learning a language, this adage is of key importance.

When you hear or see the foreign phrase that means ‘icy cold river’, see the river in your mind and feel the emotions associated with the mental image.

This reinforces a natural learning process that we employ as children. The next time you hear or see those foreign words, the emotions and senses will be stimulated again. Language learning then becomes more than words – it becomes a sensory experience. This speeds up the word recognition process considerably.

The same applies to numbers.

If you hear the foreign language equivalent of ’21’, then convert it to the English word ‘twenty-one’ in your head, and finally visualize the number ’21’, you retard the recognition and learning process. This becomes even more complex when dealing with languages like German, where ’21’ is literally translated as ‘one and twenty’ – opposite to the way we render the number in spoken English.

It is accepted by scientists that the right side of the brain is often associated with visual thinking in right-handed people, while the left side of the brain is more adept at linguistic (word-based) thought. It is also believed that gentle music stimulates right brain activity – something you can use to your advantage. Playing quiet classical music while reading or listening to foreign languages may accelerate the learning process.

You can purchase CDs and DVDs filled with appropriate right-brain-stimulating music (search online for ‘classical music right brain CD’ or ‘classical music right brain DVD’). The CD and DVD packages are filled with soft, classical music – some with nature sounds in the background.

Given the fact that many foreign words and phrases have no direct English translation, visual thinking becomes even more important. Often a foreign phrase cannot be translated effectively by breaking it down into individual words.

Try thinking in pictures. It may seem a little cumbersome at first – but it will be well worth the effort.

(c) Copyright Kathy Steinemann

About the Author:

Kathy Steinemann is a busy webmaster and author who enjoys writing German-English stories in parallel translation. She works behind the scenes at several websites, including A-Language-Guide dot com. Article Source: A Language Guide