Language and English

From: Richard Erlacher <>
Date: Fri Jan 4 20:40:52 2002

see below, plz.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Chris" <>
To: "Classic Computer" <>
Sent: Friday, January 04, 2002 4:23 PM
Subject: Re: Language and English

> >Unfortunately, today's student doesn't have the tools he needs to cope
with a
> >foreign language if he hasn't been taught basic sentence
> >verb, predicate nominative, predicate adjective, etc.) , spelling, and
> >grammar.
> What the hell is THIS based on? Certainly not reality. Any sentence
> structure and grammar I learned in English class was actually COUNTER
> PRODUCTIVE to me when trying to learn French that uses a totally
> different sentence structure. I was constantly confused when attempting
> to form a sentence in French, as I tried to speak it in English structure.
They wouldn't have been counterproductive, had you learned them. The
understanding of one complete scheme for analysis and design of correctly
structured sentences in one language provides a basis on which one can, by
comparison and contrast, easily learn a second, or a third. If your
difficulty with a second language came from difficulty with the first, it's
likely it was because you didn't fully comprehend the concepts involved in
structural analysis of the first language.
> I would have to conclude, that LACK of basic sentence structure knowledge
> in English will actually HELP a student learn other languages (including
> English in the long run, as their brain becomes programmed to a more open
> thought process towards language).
This belief suggests you understand little about the basics of language as a
concept. The same elements are present in all languages, else people
wouldn't be able to express themselves in those languages.
> I base this on my own difficulties in learning a foreign language... and
> on the absolute EASE with which my brother's 3 kids have learned Spanish
> and English by growing up in a bilingual house hold... as well as my
> cousin who was speaking fluent Italian and English by 3 (well, as fluent
> as a 3 yr old speaks any language), since he too grew up in a bilingual
> household.
It's true that lack of prejudice allows youngsters to learn languages and
dialects more easily than adults, and particularly more easily than
monolingual adults. As a small child, I spoke two dialects of German. One
with my mother, who came from a different part of Germany than where we
lived, and the other with my father, who came from where we lived, and spoke
the local dialect. Of course, I spoke the local dialect with the locals.
However, when faced with a stranger, particularly one who spoke the more
formal dialect my mother spoke, I spoke the formal dialect as well.
> Add to it that the most common foreign language errors made by people
> that have basic fluency in multiple languages, is incorrect sentence
> structure... because they easily mix up what order things should be in
> for a given language.
> Nope... in reality, I think the LESS you know of a given language when
> attempting to learn additional ones, the better chance you have of
> learning the 2nd (or more) language. And for that reason, I feel foreign
> languages should be started at the grade school level, and NOT wait until
> high school (yes, I think learning multiple languages is very
> important... and should be required schooling, at least in the USA. With
> a stronger concentration on English since it is the "accepted" language
> of the USA... in other countries, YMMV, and the "base" language would
> obviously be the accepted language of the area)
I have to disagree. If you set about to learn computer programming, it's
considered good form to learn to express various techniques and functions in
one language, of which Pascal has recently been a popular choice, before
moving on to a more "free" sort of language that lets you make more mistakes
without slapping your wrist, like C or C++. The idea is that you have to
learn about the concepts in terms of which you have to express yourself
before you can be able, simply put, to plow ahead and apply those constructs
in another language.

Fully learning one will provide tools at a conceptual level that are harder
to acquire in some languages than others, but fully learning the concepts
associated with programming a computer, just as with communicating with
another human, is the only way in which you can get a firm basis on which to
build your knowledge. Before you're a competent programmer, you have to
learn those constructs, whether you learn them in the first language or the
second, or the third doesn't matter, but you do have to learn 'em.
Likewise, if you're to communicate effectively, you've got to learn how to
do that too.
> -chris
> <>
Received on Fri Jan 04 2002 - 20:40:52 GMT

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