Learning to Speak an Unwritten Language

Statement of Responsibility:
Thormoset, Henny Jane
This literature review highlights both advantages and challenges for a literate person from a highly literate society wanting to learn to speak an unwritten minority language. The process is compared to that of learning a written majority language, such as French. In either case, the argument is made that adults, having certain advantages over children, can indeed learn to speak a second language well; a lot of listening should precede a lot of practice speaking, albeit imperfectly. Also, language learning should be inseparably linked to culture learning in order to achieve fused language-culture proficiency, for the ultimate purpose of building relationships and impacting the world. Some learning styles and strategies are reviewed. A self-directed individualized learning plan should state an appropriate desired achievement level linked to a specific anticipated use of the language. The most effective strategies should be used, including at times those least preferred, if necessary to enhance progress or to take into account the local context's unique opportunities or challenges. Finally, an argument is made that literate learners can indeed learn to speak another language from people whose method of communication is predominantly oral.
44 pages
unwritten language
second language acquisition
oral communicators
literate society
linguistic minorities
learning styles
language and culture learning - strategies
language and culture learning -- assessment
comprehensible input
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