While I tend to put up a stink about language classes, the truth is, they can be useful. –As long as you go into them with the correct mindset. Something I didn’t know to do when I logged my four years. Obviously all classes and people will vary, but here are a few generals to consider.
Where to begin! There is no question mark on the end of that sentence fragment. –It’s easy to look at a language and doubt your future with it. There is so much to a language, it feels impossible to start; yet, you still wish someday you could expand your jaw and the words would flow. You hold the fuse; just have nothing to light it. Classes supply the beginner with an excellent place to start the journey, a little fire. The benefit of taking a class is they are planned out with the beginner in mind, presenting a simple[-ish] package. Setting you up with a decent foundation, leading you hand-in-hand, step-by-step.
However, this is where the problems arise in gaseous fury if you’re not careful. Now, where to begin?!
You have to understand a few aspects of learning, and I mean truly learning, a language. First, classes will never bring you good tidings of native-like fluency. The mere acts of showing up to class, participating whole-heartedly, and completing the homework with flying colors will not suffice no matter how long you class it up. You may eventually gain a high level of proficiency, but you will always sound foreign. In order to move beyond this state, you have to put in the time and ‘effort’ [I don’t like using this word because at times none is needed] outside the classroom, and put it in often.
I’ve said this before, and I say it again, most classes are overly focused on output. The fear is that if students are not writing and speaking lickity-split, the class is a bust and worthless. Last I checked, babies didn’t even try to babble coherently until roughly eighteen months, a whopping year and a half of pure absorption. Yet, they still grow into masters of speech, so, why should you force it in five days. –Given, you’re a little more advanced than a baby is, so, you should be able to kick it out faster than eighteen months I’d hope.
You can safely blame everything else on the teacher! Don’t get this boy’oh wrong; you could have the best teacher in the whole-wide world of Disney! With endless experiences and personality up the whazoo! Someone you absolutely fuse on all wavelengths with on all levels of every field. On top of that, they know their shiz about [Japanese]. Just remember, they are only one person, only one source. Something I find that reinforces my learning more mightily than Coach Bombay’s Ducks is the diversity of the materials used. The more we see the same things in varying settings, the more it starts to click and intertwine in the fabrics of our head juice. If you’re in class, you better also be plugging into the real, native goods a heap of a lot more often than the hour you spend in that classroom.
Also remember, the teacher is not the authority on the language. The stuff they teach could be outdated or even be wrong! A teacher, wrong?! No! –Now, you don’t need to be a needle-head pointing out every little thing. That’s when the hostel gets hostile and you’re no authority on the subject either. Instead, keep the things you hear in your temporary. If it pops up in a plethora of other sources regularly, then go with it. The only absolute you should lay your language allegiance to is the language, and then be prepared to get flipped upside-down ‘cause even the language can change its mind and contradict itself.
Another thing to consider about the teacher is their country of origin. Are they natives of the language or foreign to it? Both have pros and cons. Be sure to take a gander at things from the opposite viewpoint occasionally to gain a well-rounded perspective. What they say can be affected by where they are from and therefore may not mesh so easily with your outlook, or inspire a more than imperfect understanding of the material.
These are some things I wish I had known and thought about when beginning my journey with Japanese in that classroom. To quickly summarize; if you wanna learn a language but are having trouble figuring out where to start, [first of all, save the bucks. Go to AJATT. Then,] go take an entry-level class as it can supply some nifty tools for the struggling beginner. Know that the teacher is not 神様 [God]. In addition to the time in the classroom, you’ll have to spend time outside the classroom using real, native materials.
Now, go! Be free! Read a book! …No, watch a movie! You just read enough for the day. Unless you wanna read some more hatchJAPAN. That would be acceptable.