Learning Languages Without Learning Words - 7 Reasons Why You Don't Have to Torment Yourself

Besides grammar rules, the stubborn memorization of vocabulary was the worst part of language teaching in school. Is that how you felt? If you had just been allowed to listen and speak the foreign language, the lessons would have been a lot more pleasant.

It's a pity that that wasn't possible at school. Lucky for you, that's exactly what's possible now. With the Birkenbihl method you can learn a language effectively. You will learn the foreign language without any accent, without any dry cramming of vocabulary and even more efficiently at the same time.

You will learn how it all works in this article.

What is the difference between cramming and learning?

The German word for the term "cramming” (Pauken) comes from the language of the student fraternities and originally describes the learning and practicing of academic fencing. That was exhausting, monotonous and often painful.

It is therefore significant that the term has become synonymous with learning. Today, we understand the term as intensive memorization before an examination, in which the contents seldom remain in the mind after the examination, since they usually only get stuck in short-term memory.

For motivation trainer Vera F. Birkenbihl this kind of learning was useless, since it stands against the natural learning of the human brain.

For Birkenbihl, learning should rather be the fruitful and effective absorption of new contents that remain permanently in the long-term memory. That's why she developed the Birkenbihl method, which is also a great way to learn a new language.

What's wrong with traditional cramming?

At school, vocabulary has always been taught by rote. This seems to have always been the case and it does not look as if this will change in the foreseeable future. So, if almost all schools use vocabulary, is there anything wrong with it?

Certainly, because it is not only ineffective but also harmful to fruitful learning. Here are seven reasons why you should not learn classical vocabulary:

1. Cognitive vacuum

Stubborn learning by rote-- cramming--creates a kind of cognitive vacuum, since the natural learning mechanisms of the brain are not taken into account at all. Birkenbhil therefore calls cramming "rowing against the current". Successful learning, on the other hand, should provide insights that facilitate further learning.

2. Isolated data

It is very difficult for the brain to perceive isolated data and store them in long-term memory. And what are words other than isolated, out of context data?

3. Speaking too early

Vocabulary cramming ignores the findings of recent neurological research. Babies and toddlers listen to their mother tongue for months before trying to speak for the first time. The same neurological mechanisms also work in adults. So it is much better to spend a long time listening to a foreign language before you speak it. When learning vocabulary, however, the student is usually required to pronounce words that are completely foreign to him or her.

4. Poor pronunciation

Too early pronunciation without knowledge of the correct pronunciation almost automatically leads to incorrect pronunciation. Just think of the typically German "th" that many people cannot get rid of even after years. Incidentally, there are surveys which show that in countries whose pupils are very good at memorizing vocabulary, the pronunciation of foreign languages is particularly poor because of this false focus.

5. Pseudowords are created

Through the stubborn learning of vocabulary, pseudowords often arise in the human brain, because we always learn a doubling. For example, we do not learn the German word for eagle “Adler" but rather the combination of the words of two languages: "Eagle-Adler". This means that many foreigners are never able to completely separate themselves from their mother tongue in the new language, but always have to ponder over the correspondences of a word. This prevents fluency in the foreign language.

6. No connection with context

For many words there is no exact translation, only an approximate one. In order to use such words with different, often context-bound meanings correctly, one is not properly prepared by vocabulary learning. Because you only learn the seemingly exact equivalent of a word. 

7. Learning frustration

Cramming means learning frustration. It's boring, exhausting and often disappointing. However, it is no longer a secret that the joy of learning is the most important thing for motivated learning. And only if you are motivated can your brain effectively absorb new content.

What alternative does the Birkenbihl method offer?

The Birkenbihl method follows the approach of brain-friendly learning. Methods that take into account the natural learning techniques of the human brain are called brain-friendly.

Man naturally learns through imitation. When our ancestors learned something, they first observed their environment before imitating a desired behavior. Babies and toddlers still learn through imitation and adults can do the same. Therefore, any method that supports the neurological mechanism of imitation is brain-friendly.

If you want to learn a language, it means that the best thing to do is to act like an infant learning his or her mother tongue. Get to know the foreign language in detail before you try to speak it. The Birkenbihl method makes exactly that possible for you.

The concept - decoding

The first step is to understand the meaning of words. As mentioned above, this often requires the context of an entire sentence. The Birkenbihl method with the so-called word-for-word decoding deals with this.

Every word of a foreign language text is translated literally. The goal is not a good translation, but a basic understanding of the text content and thus an understanding of the vocabulary in its context.

You can understand the text immediately without any previous knowledge and thus make the foreign language transparent. Whenever you understand a word, cover the translation until you know the whole text.

If this decoding is too tedious for you, you can use already decoded texts with Linguajet language courses.

The concept - active listening

This is followed by the second step: active listening. After you have decoded the text using word-for-word translation, listen to it on a recording.

You should always select texts that are read by a native speaker.

While listening to the text, read your decoding in your head. Take breaks over and over again to let the sounds you hear have an effect. If you understand every word spoken without word-for-word translation, you have completed the second step.

The concept - passive listening

In the third step, you listen to the text again, but this time passively. This means that you can silently play sections of the text in the background in a continuous loop.

You can pursue your normal everyday activities, even if they make noises. The purpose of this exercise is that you surround yourself with a soundscape that you perceive subconsciously.

Your brain can thus create the necessary nerve pathways to reproduce speech without any accent. This works just like a language vacation. 

Learning instead of cramming

With these steps you can easily learn how to speak a foreign language without the cramming. It's enough to make yourself understood.

Of course you can also do other exercises for pronunciation or writing the language.

At Linguajet you will find various exercises in many languages - all prepared according to the Birkenbihl method.
Try it out - you will find one free demo lesson for each language.



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