Learning Languages

Introductory or Intermediate Study ?

The introductory study of a language sketches its principal grammatical features and teaches students some of its basic qualities–its sound and music, for instance, and its idiomatic characteristics. Intermediate courses extend this knowledge, teaching students to read effectively with the assistance of a dictionary, and enabling them to communicate in many or even most ordinary language situations. The important thing about study at these levels is that it provides a key to further learning, and that key is essential for two reasons. The first is that many students will never return to formal studies after they graduate. The second is that it is very difficult to acquire a second language without some experience of formal study. That experience of formal study is what introductory and intermediate language courses offer. They provide the equivalent of a language map on which students can place additional knowledge, even when it is acquired informally, and at a later date. Though this benefit falls short of the "new perspective" promised to advanced students, it means that such a gift may someday be possible. But it is the corollary to that benefit that may be most important: without language study at the introductory and intermediate levels, most students will be doomed to live their life in a single language, and that represents a personal loss, a social loss, and possibly a professional loss.


"Monolingualism is curable"

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