The human brain is a very complex organ. The way that people learn has been a matter of studies for decades. Knowing how learning is best achieved is helping people to create better teaching methods and more successful learning environments for children and adults. This is true for language learning, as well. If you focus on how a child learns their native language, you can get a better sense of the best way to teach someone a secondary language, whether they are a child or an adult.
When children are born, they cannot speak. The do not understand language or words in any way, but this changes with time. As a child becomes older, they begin to understand the words that their parents and other people around them are saying, and often begin to mimic these words before they even understand what they’re saying. Children learn by observing; they watch the world around them and learn the proper words for everyday objects by being immersed in the culture. No two-year-old is given a vocabulary list to learn from; they are shown objects or pictures of objects, and told what the word is, which causes them to learn from repetition and practice.
The human brain tends to learn more naturally through association. That is, if you tell someone that “apple” means a small, round-ish red fruit, they might not understand completely. However, if you show them an apple, and tell them the word for it, they will comprehend much better. The same goes for learning a new language. The human brain is much more susceptible to learning through immersion and association than it is to memorization and vocabulary building. By learning Spanish with the use of pictures, flash cards, and even immersion into the Hispanic culture, you will be much more in tune with your new language than if you take traditional classes with boring vocabulary memorization and teachings.
Many language teachers and software companies are finding this out, and taking full advantage of it. Teaching methods are changing, and people are becoming much more successful at learning Spanish because they are being taught in a way that is easy for their brains to absorb knowledge. By using pictures, flashcards, and fun games, learning Spanish has become much easier for many who thought their chances of learning a language were impossible.
Some people are capable of learning new things in very different ways, but most people fall victim to the brain’s appreciation for pictures to associate with words. Learning by example is a large part of human nature, and is therefore the best way to teach people something new. If you want to learn Spanish, but have struggled in the past, try again with an online tutorial or software program that helps teach you through flashcards and direct exposure to Spanish culture and objects. Your brain will be much more likely to understand and acquire this new information if it is presented in a manner that is similar to the way nature intended you to learn.