Stringing it out

stringThe question of how long it takes to learn a language has to be similar to the query of how long  a piece of string is: how many variables do you want to mull through before approaching, what might be, a possible answer? Here are two recent articles from the Guardian which don’t provide the answer but do give a general insight into language learning and how complex it can be. Nothing new for those of us involved but still some salient points and also for me at least, a slightly different perspective in that the articles are written from the perspective of language teaching in the British state system as opposed to the more familiar world of EFL.

The first text deals directly with the question of how long it may take to learn a language, considering the contexts, the aims and also including the CEF as a reference point. Unsurprisingly, there is no conclusion but the article does trawl throught lots of the nonsense that surrounds the question. Also, if you do read it, take a minute to follow the links: some of them are very useful.

This second article follows the previous one to an extent by posing a further question: what is the best way to teach a language. And, surprise, surprise, again there is no conclusion. But there are some interesting points brought up and a curious introduction to task-based learning in British schools. The quote I liked most was that languages cannot be taught: they can only be learned.

Your views on these areas more than welcome.


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