Repetitio est mater studiorum
The magic number 7 is the number of times, some believe, you should repeat a word in a new language in order to remember it. And I agree, but I am not quite sure if this works for all the vocabulary we’re learning.
Do you know those words that evoke a certain feeling or a memory when we (re)use them? They might remind us of the people we were with when we learned it or the person, we learned it from. Or, they might remind us of a cheerful or not o cheerful event when we had to use this word for the first time. Emotions and context around learning were so relevant to us that these words decided to make a little nest in our head and stay there for a long time.
Maybe some words require more repetition before they go to our long-term memory while others sneak in without us even noticing when we are surrounded by a meaningful and relevant context.
Contextus est mater studiorum?
You definitely know those polyglots and hyperpolyglots who speak as many languages as the average age to drink is! You cannot help but wonder – how, in the name of all the languages in the world, are they doing it?! I’ve noticed one thing while listening to the fascinating hyperpolyglot Tim Doner – he’s practicing multiple languages at the same time but in different contexts. He chooses a context for each of the languages he’s learning. It can be shopping at a grocery’s store with food from a country of interest, chatting with a friend who speaks a language he wants to learn, listening to music in a chosen language or many, many others. Rarely do these contexts overlap and it seems it is doing a great job for him. At least, according to the overly enthusiastic reactions of his conversation’s partners.
Let’s reunite language learning with its best friend – context!
Context creates connections. Even though it’s more complex than the act of repeating words and phrases out loud, it offers us more possibilities to connect what we’re learning with our previous knowledge and interests. Aggressively taking the language out of its context(s) and placing it bare naked to our language learning classrooms, can help us dissect the language, analyze its every little part and basically, approach it as a dead frog in the anatomy lesson. Which can be a positive thing, because it offers us deep insight, a detailed understanding and specialized knowledge and skills.
But what if the languages we’re learning act as lively frogs jumping around showing us how flexible, alive, constantly moving and constantly changing they are? Show us their real nature, which is an integral part of their surroundings and human interactions? I think we should see languages as they really are, free them from the textbooks and grammar books. We should let them be heard, seen, read and spoken in the context they’re being used, by the people who are using them. We should let languages and their contexts move dynamically through multimedia of our lives and we should find new ways of learning them in a more natural way. Allowing the context to help us create meaningful connections in our heads and hearts while learning a new languages. Allowing it to help us remember new things more easily and giving us a playground to use the new language dynamically.
Serbian in context is an attempt to do exactly that, to preserve the real, raw aspects of the language and its cultural context while sharing tangible ways of practicing and learning with you.