Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Why You Cannot Be Taught a Foreign Language. Part 6
Language Matrix and Reverse Lingual Resonance
There is an indestructible link between our cognition and the actual process of articulation. The connection between prayer-like utterances, consciousness and the subconscious has been known for thousands of years. I assert that this connection can be and must be used in the learning of a foreign language.
Repeated vocalisation of foreign language texts in a loud and articulate manner along with an attempt to imitate the pronunciation of a native speaker as closely as possible produces a certain process in our nervous system that can be called a ‘reverse lingual resonance’. This resonance includes in itself a subconscious analysis of all linguistic structures and harmonies of the given language.
The reverse lingual resonance is certainly not based on the harmonies of the native language; it is based on the harmonies of a new and initially alien language that is being studied. The foreign harmonies eventually become somewhat customary for the person studying a foreign language through the use of a sort of matrix audio course and the repeated-aloud articulation of the ‘text mantras’. What happens in this process of subconscious analysis is the realisation of a deep kinship between the native language and a foreign language at the level of elemental cognition and its expression through the means of language.
Such kinship, though varying in the degree to which it manifests itself, can be observed between all languages, including those that appear completely disparate. Thus, all languages in their essence ascend to one lingual core. The kinship between the languages can be discovered underneath layers of linguistic transformations accumulated over thousands and thousands of years, which is precisely what the matrix of reverse resonance is able to achieve when sufficiently continuous effort is applied to it.
Thus, the primary stage in studying a foreign language should be the building of this matrix of resonant mantras, consisting of various forms of speech, such as dialogues and other texts in the studied language, to read them aloud subsequently. From personal experience, I know that the optimally effective matrix should consist of 25–30 standard-sized dialogues or monologues (voiced by native speakers), each 300 to 500 characters or 20–50 seconds long.
Each unit should be listened to and then articulated to perfection before moving on to the next one, then the next one, etc. When a sufficient number of dialogues has been mastered, you need to continue reading them aloud from the first one to the last one and back again, within 2–3 months, then over and over and over again, until this reading aloud becomes as simple and habitual as stirring a teaspoon in a cup of coffee.
The dialogues and texts (in this book, the words ‘dialogues’ and ‘texts’, as used in the context of a matrix audio course, are synonymous and interchangeable) must be professionally voiced by native speakers at a normal rate of speech. The use of high-level vocabulary and corresponding grammatical models is preferred. Emotionally negative content should be avoided in the selection of the course content due to the strong possibility that frequent repetition of and listening to such negatively charged texts can have a negative psychological effect on the student. However, a certain emotionality in the dialogues is very much preferred because it reinforces the assimilation of language elements. Therefore, the desired ‘emotional coating’ must be positive.
Long pauses and gaps in the dialogues are also undesirable; they are destructive to the natural rhythm of the language and the integrity of our perception. Pauses and gaps are permissible and even indispensable in real-life communication due to our ability to fill in those voids with various non-verbal factors: gestures, facial expressions, etc. In the audio recordings, these pauses and gaps, however, become painful hindrances in studying a language and are subject to eradication.
In the matrix, there must be no non-language noises complicating our perception—only the language and nothing else. Very often, the authors include such noises in their courses in order to ‘create a natural linguistic environment’, so on the teaching records birds are chirping, cars are honking, rockets are roaring, nails are screeching on glass and such. If you listen once or twice, these noises are amusing, but then they become irritating. If you do serious, heavy listening, without which it is absolutely impossible to master a language, they turn into exquisite torture.
Our brain’s initial reaction to a foreign language almost always is blocking and rejection. Our brain doesn’t want its harmonic peace to be disturbed in any way. The resonance caused by the matrix successfully breaks its initial resistance and then helps bring it to relative comfort after it has already left the old and cosy comfort of the mother tongue. The matrix smoothens and soothes the painful transition from the old harmonies to the new ones.
Within the matrix, the brain is given the opportunity for intermediate training and for becoming accustomed to the foreign language in the early stages when full transition to the foreign language is still impossible. If you will, the matrix could be compared to arpeggios and scales when learning how to play a musical instrument or Kata exercises when learning martial arts. From films, everybody is familiar with the pictures of martial arts students standing in neat rows and performing certain kinds of offensive or defensive moves. Essentially, they are performing a martial arts matrix, in many respects similar to the language matrix that I am proposing.
Of course, lacking spontaneity, it is not yet the actual martial arts mastery but a certain and necessary stage on the way to the real use of moves and reactions perfected to full automaticity.
The full name I have chosen for this approach is a meditational reverse resonance lingual matrix with peripatetic elements. Peripatetics will be explained later.
However, in preparing my first matrix for China, I decided not to use this name, which could be too confusing for Chinese students due to cultural differences and translation difficulties. Therefore, another name for this approach is language tai-chi. It is short and completely to the point.
[Via Language Tai-chi, or You Cannot Be Taught a Foreign Language, by Nikolay Zamyatkin]