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Second Language Learning: Cognitive Coolness

written by: •edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 12/5/2008

Some cognitive methods, techniques, tricks and tips for the Second Language learner.

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    Cognitive Coolness

    Cognitive Coolness includes those language learning strategies and techniques that can be, and usually ARE, under your direct conscious control. These are also most directly related, in most students' mind, with second language learning, and are FOUR Cool Cogs: Practicing, Sending and Receiving Messages, Analyzing and reasoning and Creating framework and order for input and output.

    Taking these one at a time, we can start with practicing. Sounds real, as people who don't practice their newly heard word or phrase don't learn it and don't retain it. Practice makes permanent, and RIGHT PRACTICE makes perfect.

    Practice consists of formally, slowly practicing with sounds and writing systems; repeating the pronunciation of a word or phrase or repeating the reading of that word/phrase; recognizing and using patterns and forms; practicing natural-seeming ways, and recombining parts into greater wholes or segments.

    Next, the skills of analyzing and reasoning as applied to your second language. These mental methods express when we analyze expressions (either in the target language or in our mother tongue, as relates TO the target language); use deductive reasoning (to deduce meaning); analyze contrasts between target and mother tongue; translating; and transferring. This is part of the chewing process when we seek to digest new information in an effective, efficient way.

    Sending and receiving messages is a third part of the Cognitive Coolness skillset, and is comprised of getting the idea (quickly) and employing resources for sending and receiving content for communication. Say what? Come again?

    We create supportive structure for output and input when we take notes, highlight and summarize.

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    Cognitive Coolness: Summary

    Those aren't too difficult or arcane or abstruse, are they?

    To learn your new language you take notes, highlight passages in your student book or workbook, summarize a written passage or your teacher's words, then invest a few moments into analyzing the new pattens, their meanings, their flow... reasoning to yourself about the expressions to deduce meaning from words or word-order you encounter, and then go to your lonesome place, to practice your new sounds, alone and lonely until you feel confident of your ability to meet Real Native Speakers and have a chance to make mistakes for them!

    And be sure about this, when you meet with Real Native Speakers of your chosen Second Language, several things WILL crop up: You WILL make mistakes of pronunciation, intonation or grammar; you WILL hear words or phrases you DON'T YET KNOW, and you WILL WANT words you don't yet have!

    Some of the most fun you can have as an adult involves making honest mistakes in your Second Language, and learning from them! A slapped face is rare, and nobody has killed me yet in my learning...

    Jump in, take conscious control, and claim your Cognitive Coolness! Its part of a rational second language learning method for the masses.

    Or for YOU!