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Which is more effective in your language learning; learning the rules of the language vs. learning by immersing in the language


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I was reading an article on what happens in the brain when learning a language, and came across a study conducted by Kara Morgan-Short of the University of Chicago. Basically, their study tried to compare the inner workings of the brain with regards to methods of language learning.

Anyway, in their research, they have two sets of groups; one studying language by way of explanation of the rules of the language, while the other group is learning the language by way of immersing in the language. Their study revealed that studying by immersion is more effective than the former. For all of you, I'm wondering if it's the same.

Do you learn better when you immersed in the target language or when you study and know the rules of the language?

Reference: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/sep/04/what-happens-to-the-brain-language-learning

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This shouldn't surprise anyone. What I'd like to see is a study comparing 1) 100% pure immersion to 2) 90% immersion + 10% grammar study, because I'm sure that a mixture is more efficient than pure immersion. 

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It all depends on the language fluency and proficiency level of the person.  If the person is a beginner to the said language, it's best if he learns the language through explanation of the rules.  Once the person is fluent to a certain level, he may start immersing with the community, but only in simple conversations at first.  The person learning the language can combine classroom learning and language immersion together, or he can just go with one over the other.  It also depends on the languege that he is learning, and traditional rules previously taught in class may not necessarily apply when he is conversing with natives.  It all requires a matter of balance between the two.

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   Well this is not as simple as it sounds. I am aware that speaking with people and interacting with them will improve your speaking skills. You will learn phrases and idioms that people actually use. However, I was a little boy in Serbia when I started learning English and I started by learning the basic grammar rules. Since then I never forgot anything I just learned some more and more. So it really depends on what you want to do with your knowledge. I wanted to teach and several times I found myself speaking with some Americans who were not sure how to explain Present Perfect Tense to me, even though they are Americans and they speak fluently. The fact they are relaxed and confident while using English is because it is their native tongue like Serbian is mine, but even so, I was the one who had to explain to them some things about their language. They also didn't know what is subjunctive.

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I would say immersion first, rules later.
There is no way to abandon one of the 2, both have to be utilised.
But immersing first makes learning rules easier later on.
Doing the other way around is rather a license to give up.

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I wouldn't say there's a rule of thumb for these sorts of things. It's kinda hard to understand this study as there aren't proper group sizes in the sample. They don't say what the size of a group was, but I doubt it was in the 1000s or even 100s. However, immersion is something I always advise people when learning a new language. Hearing the language while understand the rules of it could be even more helpful than just pure immersion though and I think anyone should at least know some basics before getting into the whole immersion thing. 

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Right now I'm leaving the rules behind, I'm waiting to get more familiar with Dutch so I can finally look deeper into its language rules :)  I didn't do that with English and I am fine, but I admit I sometimes felt a bit confused.  I don't want the same thing to happen, because while learning English I made a lot mistakes, I plan to make a lot mistakes in Dutch as well, but I want to keep them to a bare minimum, specially around the in laws who mock everything and everyone they like ad don't like. 

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I learn better when I’m immersed in it. The rules are a nice thing to learn but when people speak their native language ½ of it is going to be slang and shortened words anyway. There’s going to be nicknames for a ton of stuff and words that are insinuations for other stuff. I think one of the best ways to give away you’re a foreigner is to talk like a walking textbook. Immersion is definitely the best option.

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I grew up learning rules first, and I believe learning them is still valid.

Immersing in languages is a good idea and might be more helpful and a more closer approach for live speaking/writing a different language than ours.

However I believe that it depends on the sources make such immersion a good way of learning. If you get immersed in wrong pronunciation, rules or sentence structure, this will not only affect your learning but they way you used such language.

With grammar and spelling rules, there is never mistake ;)

 

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Honestly, I think it would be better to just immerse yourself in the language. I am currently in the process of learning Swedish and my dad, who is fluent, told me that I should simply expand my vocabulary, rather than worrying about the grammar and such. By learning more words, I am able to communicate more easily even if my sentence structure is not the best. The listeners will still be able to understand the message I'm trying to convey. For example, if I were to say, "I be hungry", it wouldn't sound correct, but you can still assume that I'm trying to say that, I am indeed, hungry.

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For me personally, if I had the money and time I'd opt for total immersion. When it comes to foreign language learning, I feel I'm the sort of person who needs to be thrown in at the deep end. Ideally, I'd prefer to be somewhere where not many people speak a language I understand, so that I'm forced to put in some practice and do away with this being shy business. I like Blaveloper's idea of 'immersion first, rules later' because I reckon it would work better for me. It's worked like magic for me when I've done it in the past. I do believe that you can't divorce the rules and grammar from it if you really want to excel at your chosen language. At least that's what I prefer.

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Well, if you think of living in a particular language speaking country, when you say immersed in a language, then I can't really say how it worked for me, because it never happened for me. I studied English language for many  years by learning the rules. It was all about how one should build up a sentence, what a sentence consists of, learning about semantics, linguistics, morphology, syntax. And It was very tiring, but also very helpful. It shaped my brain in the way that it taught me how to think in patterns, how to connect words, and make sense of my thoughts for the others around me. However, I was a bit immersed in a language, but it was not like I was living in an English speaking country. Rather, It was through people coming from such countries. They talked to me in English and I picked up the language and accent from them.

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I think we all need both. Its very hard to do anything more than be a talking parrot with only immersion. You can repeat what someone else says and remember that in that exact instance that is the way you say that thing. But to have a conversation you need to know your past, future, and present tenses. I have a terrible time learning grammar but I must admit, as soon as I learn how to say something correctly, it rolls off the tongue so much better than if I just fudge my way through it. And the person whose ears I am making bleed with my half-learned phrases also appreciates the grammar efforts too. It might not feel good to learn the rules, but in the end the results are better. And in the end, if we are fluent, we will be able to immerse ourselves even better. Because after all, we never graduate once we've decided to learn a new language. Its ongoing. 

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For me, pure immersion would never work as well as rules + immersion. By rules I mean studying grammar and doing grammar exercises - not just mechanically learning some rules by heart (taking into consideration how many exceptions to the rules we face in most languages, this wouldn't work anyway). But both for me and for those people I tried to teach or the ones I practise with, immersion (or immersion-type books and courses) never did the trick.

I'm a firm believer in studying grammar :) and practising a lot.

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