The Importance of Interaction in Language Learning

Why?

Language learning apps can be a great resource that brings the language to you so you can immerse yourself in the language which you want to learn. The immersion process is reversed: the language comes to you, instead of you going to the country where they speak that language. It sounds great, but all the work you can do with apps is never enough because there is no actual interaction, no human communication.


If you are intent and focused on learning English because you really want or need to learn it, you are going to need more than an app, you are going to need to be able to interact with real people in English, or any language you intend to learn.

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Teaching Yourself Can Do a Lot But...

The human factor is missing – interaction with a human being. It’s in the context of conversation where we can experience the mirror effect -when we talk, somebody else hears us, so we can learn from our mistakes when that person hears those mistakes and gives us correction. Or identifies a weakness in our speech that can be improved by learning a specific grammar point, an idiomatic expression that comes up in conversation, or a way to improve our pronunciation so we don’t keep stumbling on the same word and we can gain fluency and be better understood – we get the opportunity to get feedback and correction.

 

Another reason why conversation helps us learn is because while talking we have no choice but to try and use what we know as best as we can, and this effort helps us remember – forces us to remember, or our listener might help us remember those words that refuse to come to mind at that precise moment. Then, that word, idiomatic expression, or grammatical structure will be refreshed in our memory and consolidated, ready to be used again in the future.

Also, when we interact with another person, we learn from his/her way of using the language, their style, grammar, and vocabulary.

 

And, finally, by having a real conversation we get to ask questions that come up during that conversation, or when we are studying on your own, and get the explanations we need.

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How Does Real Conversation Help?

Conversation is a human experience and, as such, it gives context to language. Language doesn’t occur in a vacuum and it can’t be learned in a vacuum. Language is a tool, after all, to be used for the purpose of communicating with other human beings – even if you intend to use it only to write a book, for example, in which case you will be communicating with anonymous people, but communication is still there, at the end of the day; using language with the purpose to convey our thoughts, our feelings, or to narrate an event; to inquire about information, to gather new knowledge and to let others feel our presence.
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How Does Interaction Impact The Language Learning Process?

When we interact, we experience emotions – pleasant or unpleasant. Those emotions give color to our words, make them express something. Words are no longer empty vessels, but the agents which make our emotions reach our listener – and his/her emotions reach us as well. And that is how an interaction becomes a learning experience.

 

How does that impact our learning? Emotions make us remember because they put a weight on words, they make words have a meaning, and they have the power to make us feel things. Words can be remembered – or forgotten – depending on the context where they come up. But those words need to be experienced in real life, in the context of conversation, in order to become alive in our minds.

 

And last, but not least, when we engage in conversation with a knowledgeable English speaker who is also a tutor, he or she can guide us along our learning process by showing us the gaps which are there even when we are not aware of them – and then help to us fill them with the answers we need.

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About the Author:

Jackie’s educational background in Linguistics and Psychoanalysis, along with her experience as an English/Spanish Translator has given her a solid base from which to approach English teaching. She enjoys teaching English, so her classes are engaging and productive. Jackie has the tools she needs to understand her students’ learning style, gained through her specific combination of education, work experience and creativity. Thanks to her experience working in business environments Jackie is in her element when she helps business executives, scientists and professionals improve their English or Spanish language skills.