Let’s not start at the very beginning

Language Teaching (journal)

Language Teaching (journal) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Generally, there are two types of language guide books: the serious ones which want to go into the grammar in reasonable depth, and those that only want to teach you phrases parrot fashion so that you can say some things when you are in a country on a short-term holiday.

I dislike the latter because I like to know the grammatical logic of what I am saying, the language’s construction. I don’t want to yabber like a brainless parrot. So I tend to go for the former, the more serious language guides.

But usually these books will start by introducing you to the alphabet and the sounds of a language, so on your first lesson you are confronted with a bewildering array of pronunciation rules, such as whether a c is soft or hard before an a, e, i, o or u, and so on, plus the various exceptions, and a lot of unrelated vocabulary. Maybe in terms of language teaching this is a logical way to start, but I find it is easier to just get stuck in, perhaps starting with the equivalents of the verb “to be”, and then take it from there. Once you get comfortable with the language, a lot of the pronunciation rules will come to you naturally by instinct. You will soon know whether a c is hard or soft before certain vowels etc. So soon we will look at the French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Romanian notions of being.