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Self Teaching

By: Joanne Walker BA (hons) - Updated: 3 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Self Teaching Learn Language Pitfalls

Self teaching is a method of language learning, which while not without its faults, can also be fairly effective, at least in the early days of learning a language. There is a lot of groundwork that can be done with self teaching, and the more a language learner self teaches themselves, the easier they will find classes. It is not recommended to have no classes at all, as for language learning, you need to be able to interact with others, but there is a lot of work that can be done to make self teaching a success.

Listening Programmes

There are many listening programmes and courses you can buy to help yourself with self teaching. The popular Linguaphone series is a good example. It allows the learner to self teach but also to listen to tapes and even send in their work to be marked. This way, the learner gets the chance to hear the words and phrases being spoken rather than just reading them and looking at them. This is the key to self teaching – you must also be able to hear the words. If you see them written down, you will not know how to say them and no amount of re reading of them will help.


The most important thing that is missing when you are self teaching is feedback. If you do not have feedback, you will have no idea whether you are doing the right thing or the wrong thing. So even if you are adamant that you will teach yourself, you must get feedback on what you are doing. Not only will feedback help you improve what you are doing, but if you do not have feedback, you may actively be doing something to harm your new found skills by letting bad habits go unchecked.

Self teaching certainly has its benefits. It allows you to learn the alphabet and allows you to study how words are spoken and pronounced before you set foot in a class. It also means you can learn when there is time for you rather than have to make sure you attend a class each week. But there are also big pitfalls to watch out for with self teaching. It is a great way to kick start language learning. But do not make the mistake of thinking you can do it all alone. Everyone who is learning a language needs interaction with other speakers of the language, and also feedback. But by self teaching you can also gain a little confidence before you step in a classroom for the first time.

There are also many other tools you can use to help you along the way when you are self teaching. You can buy books and newspapers in the language you are learning or look up sites on the Internet. You can also rent DVDs in your language or ask someone to record programmes from the TV and radio in the language. Use these tools and self teaching will be fruitful. But if you do not make use of everything available to you and simply try to read from a book then you will never learn correctly.

Self teaching requires as much hard work, and more discipline than learning in classes, but if you are determined then you should be ready for that work, and the end effort will be worth it.

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