Learning a New Language: The Right Approach [Archives:1997/48/Culture]

December 1 1997

Language education, the approach to learning a new tongue and the psychology of learning it, has always been an appealing topic for academics; questions arise as to how the Yemeni should adapt himself at learning a new language so that he can function in it as if it were his own.  What does the student require? Efficiency and motivation and encouragement are the keys. The student has to show some interest, he may have to face a job interview or promotion, it may also be for cultural reasons like wanting to travel etc. Influencing factors affecting learning involve peer pressure on the one hand and an unwillingness to fail on the other. Adult pressure from above does tend to damper study performance as students strive to succeed, but not always. Others see themselves as no match for their idols and fail to get away from their monolingual bind.  The world we live rewards the successful and punishes those having learning handicaps. Living directly in contact with the language makes learning easier: Participating at language workshops in the new environment to avoid being linguistically handicapped is a definite asset.  The psychology of learning comes into the picture when academics try to evaluate the best approach to language learning problems which may be part and parcel of general learning and functional difficulties that the person has. These problems can also be related to psychological problems like autism. Specific learning centers would have to be created in Yemen to address such problems here. Encouragement is not to be forgotten because the Yemeni should not feel that he will not perform like his peers, he has an opportunity like any other people wanting access to a global language.  
By Martin Dansky, B.Sc