Ideas about learning methodologies

What if each language cannot be learned or taught in the same way? What if we have been trying to teach everything uniformly without any attention to the native flow [1] of the language? We use errors as a means for correcting language through the guise of “making the student’s language more natural, more native, more fluent” but all the while throwing the same teaching methodologies and error correction types at the student without reflection on the efficacy of such methods and error corrections. Perhaps by researching confidence, I am not only trying to understand my own lack of confidence in French, but also starting to realize that building confidence is one of the bases for creating a more effective, differentiated base of methodologies for each language. While I’m studying Japanese, Chinese, Mvskoke, Turkish, Quechua, and Spanish in 2023, I am testing out different methodologies to see which ones work for each language, keeping in mind that they work for me in each language, but not for others [2]. More research should be done on the effect of different learning methodologies and teaching methodologies on language learning in order to ascertain more correlative results about how methodologies affect language learning.

> Is the holistic method more appropriate for southeastern Asian languages?

> Is it actually the holistic method if used with languages from other regions, including indigenous languages?

> Although CI-based teaching methods allow for narrative-based learning, do they restrict metaphorical learning?

> Could Web3 apport any ideas for language learning, perhaps new ways to approach learning methodologies and research?

> Do general, collective terms like “la plupart des..” actually help, or do they add more ogdens [3]?

Another random question that popped up was during Pay it Forward observation 17: have the ways to teach verbs that use être modernized since I learned them in 2013? I learned DR MRS VANDERTRAMP, an acronym that stands for the base forms of all past verbs that use être instead of avoir. However, it is a lot of ogdens that require memorization and different learning techniques that some students might not possess (yet). 

I contend that learning methodologies are essential to confidence in language learning. However, in order to ascertain their position in language education, it is vital not to underestimate the uniqueness of each student to learn their own way. Through this lens, perhaps “fluency” is not the end goal of language learning, but “autonomy”. Learning may imply a certain degree of autonomy, might it be learner autonomy, pair autonomy, or group autonomy. If so, then what leads to autonomy? Is it ownership? Agapè? Interactions? Engagement? Perseverance? Security? Learning theories are to be developed in order to develop the language learners themselves. ✺

[1] “Native flow” is a term I use to describe the comfort one feels to perform, interact or reflect in a language – to make it their own. Further reading: Davies, A. (2003). The Native Speaker: Myth and Reality. Multilingual Matters.

[2] I assume here that learners have their own ways of learning and teachers have their own ways of teaching. Of course, my methodologies and methods may work for others, but perhaps there are some that work better. McTavish discusses the consequences of insufficient learning methodology and one child’s decision to learn autonomously: McTavish, M. (2014). “I’ll do it my own way!”: A young child’s appropriation and recontextualization of school literacy practices in out-of-school spaces. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 14(3), 319–344.

[3] Ogdens refer to the measure of difficulty a learner would have learning something. For example, learning the numbers 1 through 12 would equate to 12 ogdens, because each word is new. 13 would be two more ogdens, one for “thir-” and another for “-teen”. However, 14-19 would only be one ogden, “fif-“, because the student would have already learned the numbers + “-teen”. I first learned about this idea in Roslyn Young’s book: Young, R. (2012). L’anglais avec l’approche Silent Way. Editions Eyrolles.

Cite this blog post
Brendan Geer (2023, February 15). Ideas about learning methodologies. Confidence: language learning. Retrieved June 25, 2024, from

Brendan Geer

Language teaching expert and researcher in language confidence. Founder of Prism: Language Confidence. Also director of the HeOnTe online teaching program, co-director of the Rennes Café des Langues, and cat dad.

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