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How to Learn a Foreign Language Review by Dr. Anne Margaret WrightGraham E. Fuller
Have you ever thought about studying a foreign language, but weren't quite sure how to go about it? Have you wondered if it would be beneficial to add foreign language study to your homeschooling? Have you had nightmares at the very thought of learning a foreign language but knew you needed to teach your children to speak in a different language? Or, are you already fluent in 15 languages, but want to condense what you have learned about this process? How to Learn a Foreign Language, by Graham E. Fuller ($9.95 by Storm King Press), is a primer to understanding the process of learning a foreign language. In 102 pages, Mr. Fuller takes the reader on a journey into the workings of languages and calms any lingering fears you might have at the thought of learning a new language. Graham Fuller has studied 16 languages, including those commonly studied in the U.S. and many others. He worked with the Foreign Service and traveled extensively overseas for 17 years. In my book, this makes him an expert in how to learn another language!
So you might be asking, why you need a book that doesn't teach you a language but only teaches you how to learn a language? Good question! For some people, languages come very easily. They can watch Sesame Street in Spanish a few times and they have the language mastered. I'm not one of those people and I'm guessing that you are not either. I studied German in high school for two years and then had to switch to French, because there weren't enough students to continue in German. As soon as I started learning French, my German went out the window! Two years of high school French and one year of college French later, I thought it might be nice to take a semester of Spanish. Oops, there goes the French out the window. And, of course, one semester of Spanish is just enough to get a person in trouble, but not enough to really speak the language effectively. So, after five and a half years of studying foreign languages, I'm not sure I could even ask where the restroom is in any of them!
I enjoyed studying foreign languages, but did not have a knack for remembering what I learned. The only thing I do remember is the process that happens as you learn a language - and that is what Mr. Fuller conveys so well in this little book. He very effectively takes the reader through the process of what to expect, how to go about learning in the most efficient ways, and some pitfalls to avoid. For example, one of his excellent ideas is to be bold in your pronunciation as you are learning to speak the language - really enunciate, even ham it up a bit. This helps with your accent and makes the language more fun to learn as your mouth figures out how to make these interesting new sounds. He also has some excellent information on learning the grammar of the new language, and learning to make an educated guess of the meaning of words based on other things you know. The book is not only informative, but it is entertaining as well. He shares many of his own experiences learning 16 different languages and helps the reader learn from his successes and his struggles. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in learning a foreign language, especially if you have butterflies in your stomach at the thought. I think it would be particularly helpful for homeschooling parents who want to study a language with their children, because it helps you think through some of the steps that will happen in the process and how to approach those steps effectively. And if you happen to be one of those folks who already knows 10 languages, read this little gem to see how much you've already learned!