If You Don't Use It...You Will Lose It

March 25, 2010 / by Kimberly Cortes

gymMy previous blog post discussed Krashen’s Input Hypothesis. Of course input is necessary for a learner to acquire a new language. However, studies have shown that language learners (LLs) can often achieve high levels of comprehension in the second language (L2) without ever achieving a moderate level of production (Swain 1985, 1995).

Merrill Swain’s Output Hypothesis argues that without production (output) expectations that correspond to the input that the language learner receives, the student’s conversational abilities in the second language will lag far behind their comprehension abilities. Second language production, or output solicited from the language learner, is what most effectively drives the development of a second language (Swain 1985, 1995). It’s kind of like that old saying, “If you don’t use it, you'll lose it!”

It is similar to learning math. You can know the formulas, but every math teacher I’ve ever had always told me that putting the formulas I know to practice is what will ensure that I internalize the information and concepts and that I will be prepared to produce them when needed. The method of Mango Languages applies this concept to teaching a new language. Our system uses a strategic series of automatically generated quizzes on material the student has already learned. In addition, Mango uses what we refer to as Critical Thinking slides. These slides prompt the student to construct and produce new language fragments, phrases and/or sentences using elements that they have learned but have never actually seen put together in this particular way. In this way Mango Languages sets expectations for the student to not only repeat what they have heard but to also internalize this material and combine it new ways. Since math is referred to as the universal language, I think my high school math professor would be pleased!

So, what do you think? Do you agree with the saying, “If you don’t use it, you'll lose it”?

Topics: Language Learning and Culture

Kimberly Cortes

Written by Kimberly Cortes

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