During language classes at school, I was left with the impression that we were expected to learn new words as best we could. There was no instruction or set procedure telling us how to go about fixing these strange new sounds in our head or converting them into English. I was told, for instance, that the Spanish for food was alimento. How was I to remember this word, and that it was masculine?
The teacher's job didn't extend to the nitty-gritty business of learning how to learn. No one taught me how to commit a large number of new and alien words to memory. The teacher was there solely to deliver the information and explain how the language worked. Without a vocabulary, however, grammar is useless. What good is it, as you stutter and stammer in a bakery, desperately trying to remember the German for 'bread', if all you can remember is how to decline the verb 'to bake'?
We tried to learn words parrot-fashion, monotonously calling them out in class, or staying up late, half-covering one side of a well-thumbed vocab. book. What a travesty, a terrible waste of time and money! And as far as I can gather, things haven't improved much today.
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