Textbook vs natural language

This is a topic that has come up with various students that I work with at both intermediate and advanced levels. As conscientious students of foreign languages we are eager to learn the language as it is spoken by native speakers.

We find as we move into adulthood and into real-world scenarios that many of the constructions and expressions which we learn in school, from a textbook or teacher are not so commonly used by native speakers in daily life.

This is one of the challenges for us both as teachers and as learners. We need to find an effective balance between learning the essentials of grammar and vocabulary as found in a textbook, and learning the expressions and quirks of language as they are actually used in day-to-day life.

My advice is follow your instincts.

Try to incorporate idiomatic or slang expressions into your learning process. However don’t lose touch with those basic building blocks in the form of standard grammar and vocabulary exercises.

The way to access these non-standard forms of language is by watching films and television series, and by reading magazines and books, thus exploring a variety of styles of spoken and written prose.

More detailed discussion on this topic will arise in future posts!