Why onslaught of words is sexy?
I am sure while going through the last post and listening to all the audio you might have been asking yourself “why is this guy making us go through these long word lists. “Wouldn't it be enough if he listed just listed a few words for every pronunciation case. After all he just wants us to know the rule.”
My short answer is: No it’s not enough to just know the rules. It rarely works. It does if you are planning on carrying your language learning project for atleast 4 years and not 6–12 months. If you are fine with longer duration project, by every means go ahead and just pick rules up and move on to the next step. Over time as you immerse more and more into the language, you will eventually pick up the nuances of pronunciation. Nothing bad about it as long as you don’t quit after 4 months or so which is what a lot of people do. They start with fervour but leave it as soon as the enthumicals (chemicals causing enthusiasm) begin their downward journey.
Human brain is just not wired to remember rules. Don’t believe me? I am sure a lot of you went to the driving school. They trained you in all the rules — when to press the clutch, when to hit a gear and when to start pressing on the accelerator. And I am sure you tried these steps in this sequence only to find things not going very smoothly. Why so? Because trying to remember rules takes a bit of time and by then the moment when you’re supposed to do a certain step passes. So the whole sequence seems choppy and doesn’t lead to intended result.
Back to driving lessons. After enough trial and error your body just figured out the perfect rhythm and rules were just not needed. You could do everything in a smooth flow as if all those steps which driving school gave you were beautifully welded to each other. It’s the same with dance. If you try to remember steps every second, you won’t be dancing.
So what happened after some time? This is where the power of patterns comes into play. Human brain remembers patterns better than atomic building blocks. When you talk in your native language try to remember how you construct speech. Most of the time you are using readymade patterns that are deeply embedded in your brain. You rarely think of individual words.
I want you to adopt similar approach to learn words now. Rather than learning how each individual letter sounds, you embed patterns into your brain. You do this by exposing your brains to actual words containing those sounds. To construct a sentence your brain looks for phrases in your mental repository. For sounds your brain looks into repository of words.
This seems like a very counter-intuitive approach. Fact of the matter is it is exactly the opposite. This approach is absolutely intuitive. Rather I would say its counter-logical. Intuitive learning speed always beats logical learning speed. Logic has a place in learning but it should not supplant the intuitive capability of brain, it should supplement it. Logic should decide what to learn but not how to learn. How should be left to the brain.
If your brain is hungry for patterns, feeding it isolated ingredients is going to slow down the learning. It will have to sit down and do some cooking, that is, build patterns out of individual things you have given it. This is absolutely against the capability of brains. Sheer waste of human intelligence.
Part of the reason why logical methods have such an appeal is largely because human beings think they are smarter than nature. In their urge to be in absolute control of the whole learning mechanism they try to feed brains stuff in most atomic form possible. This is why language learning in schools invariably begins with the alphabet. It’s time you began trusting your intelligence more. It’s constantly at work. You can help it further by giving it what it needs — patterns. This is the effortless and non-deliberate path. If any deliberation is needed, it is needed to decide what to learn next. Not to decide how.
If what I said makes sense, don’t waste time. Pay attention to all the word-lists and their audio. Just listen to them and know that your brains are working to make sense of the nuances of French pronunciation.