This is a great blog post by a Montessori preschool / International Baccalaureate school in USA that summarises important factors that influence language learning. There’s no miracle working in language learning!
It’s common to believe that a child’s skill with learning an additional language comes naturally. We don’t agree. Yes, some children do pick up language skills faster than others—but that doesn’t mean that the ability to learn a language is an attribute possessed by only a lucky few.
When students start learning an additional language at Whitby, some do soak up the knowledge faster than others. Yet it’s not just natural ability at work. We’ve actually found that there are many internal and external factors that influence how fast students pick up a new language.
- Motivation? Are they being forced? Is there a lot of negative pressure on them at home?
- Is another language spoken at home?
- Is this their first foreign language?
- How does the student feel in the classroom? Is it a safe, relaxed space for them?
- How is the language taught? Immersion?
- How attainable does it feel to the student? Do they feel like what they’re learning is out of reach?
- Is the student introverted or extroverted? Is speaking in front of groups challenging?
- How old is the student?
- How comfortable do they feel learning the language in their current country? If their social group, school influence or society around them influence them a certain way, it may be a hindrance to learning. If a student comes along with the belief that it is “better” to learn a European language than an Asian language, there is an immediate barrier to engagement and mental block right there and it will be difficult to learn any Asian language…
Read the full post here: https://www.whitbyschool.org/passionforlearning/9-factors-that-influence-language-learning
We’d also like to add a very important #10 – How comfortable is the student with making lots of mistakes and not being perfect? Do they have a fixed or growth mindset? Learning a language, especially to speak a language, is all about trying, making mistakes, and learning along the way. A useful article on this: The learning myth: Why I’ll never tell my son he’s smart, by Sal Khan, of Khan Academy.