Learning a language is a powerful mental workout that uses every form of memory we have.
We need to acquire a repository of words, to form a vocabulary vast enough to express our messages. We also need the grammatical knowledge to put it all together. We need to use our muscles and motor control to wrap our tongue around the pronunciation. And we need to be able to do it fast, intuitively, without stopping to think about each translation.
Fluency in any language requires a higher order understanding of it. Memorization will fall short, you can’t just accumulate words, you need to see the relationships and interactions between them.
“Mastery requires both the possession of ready knowledge and the conceptual understanding of how to use it.” – Make It Stick
As with many other higher forms of knowledge — such as music theory, a programming language, math or physics — it’s essential to see the whole system, to take a holistic view and understand intuitively how each piece works within it.
Learning a language is not easy, but in a way that’s the point, you need to be patient and put in the effort to see the reward. And it is a great reward.
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