Why You Can’t Learn a Language From a Textbook

By October 23, 2018English
Text Book Learn a Language

There are many exciting possibilities when living abroad. You can tap into fresh avenues for work, education and sightseeing while immersing yourself in a whole new culture. However, you might hold off making the move if you know you are not well-versed in that country’s primary language.

This can be a real “chicken and egg” situation – as, if you want to learn a language, chatting with native speakers of that language can bode much better for you than reading a textbook.

Tear up the rulebook – and the textbook

Let’s get one thing out of the way first: textbooks would not necessarily be entirely useless in your mission to learn a new language. You would expect this to be the case, too, given that textbooks remain a staple of the world’s language courses.

However, it’s actually perfectly possible for you to learn a language without needing to flick a single page of a textbook. The reason why is that textbooks are overly geared towards helping their readers to read and write in the new language, your speaking prowess in which could be neglected.

You can walk the walk, but can you talk the talk?

Once you have landed in your destination country, you shouldn’t expect to spend a lot of time reading and writing in that language. It would be much more routine for you to put this language to vocal use, such as when buying food and other items, booking rooms or seeking directions.

Sadly, a textbook would delve into many aspects of foreign communication that are unlikely to come into play when you converse in real-world situations. These aspects include much more grammar than casual chat actually entails, plus tenses beyond the standard past, present and future.

Give yourself a novel experience

Research has proven that the brain thrives on being exposed to novelty. You probably already regularly expose it so as you taste new foods, read new books and make new friends. All of this gets to the heart of why a textbook can prove surprisingly blunt in effectiveness for language learners…

With its overt focus on the reading and writing facets of an unfamiliar language, a textbook can simply be too repetitive to keep your brain guessing. Even where a textbook comes with a CD featuring audio snippets of native speakers, their uttered sentences could be unhelpfully formal.

Hence, you would be missing out on valuable opportunities to pick up on dialect and colloquial expressions. Fortunately, if English is the language you seek to learn, we can place you with a London-based homestay host – who, along with other members of their household, could teach you more than a few things that might be given short shrift in a textbook.

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