Learn through exposure

Recent research is showing that the best way to learn a new language is by frequent exposure to it, even if you have no idea what it means. Victoria University PhD graduate Paul Sulzberger has discovered that the more we hear certain sounds and their combinations in a new language, the more likely we are to be able to learn new words in that language.

Dr Sulzberger says he was interested in what makes it so difficult to learn foreign words when we are constantly learning new ones in our native language. He found the answer in the way the brain develops neural structures when hearing new combinations of sounds.

“When we are trying to learn new foreign words we are faced with sounds for which we may have absolutely no neural representation. A student trying to learn a foreign language may have few pre-existing neural structures to build on in order to remember the words.”

Dr Sulzberger looked for ways people could develop these structures to make the learning process easier. His finding was simple: extensive exposure to the language, something made easier by globalisation and new technology.

“It is easier to learn languages these days because they are so accessible now. You can go home and watch the news in French on the internet.”

So listen to a foreign language radio station, watch foreign films, or listen to foreign pop songs. Even if you have no clue what any of it means, it will greatly improve your ability to learn in your new language.

Full article from Victoria University.

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