Why Language Learners Should Prioritize Declarative Memory Posted by Lorien on Mar 25, 2013 in For Learners, Learning + Usage Tips
One of the things that differentiate Transparent Language from many of our competitors is the method we employ to teach adult language learners a new language.
We are firm believers in the declarative method. To oversimplify, your brain learns things using two complimentary systems: declarative memory (facts) and procedural memory (skills). For languages, the declarative memory stores words and phrases, which requires conscious effort and repeated exposure. The procedural memory stores skills, which can be internalized by working with the language frequently.
When it comes to faster language acquisition, we believe in declarative first.
We know that language is more than vocabulary. But the more vocabulary you know, the easier everything else gets. In fact, studies have shown that, of all the factors contributing to language proficiency, vocabulary size is by far the single most significant factor, accounting for anywhere from 50% to 70% of proficiency gains depending on the language and the skill being studied.
That’s why we prioritize declarative learning, or building a robust, reliable pool of vocabulary. If you don’t know the word for “hospital”, knowing how to conjugate “to need” (a function of procedural memory) will not by itself get you to the nearest clinic in an emergency. Saying nothing but “hospital”, on the other hand, probably will. It may not result in Shakespearean-level eloquence, but language is, first and foremost, about communicating your wants, needs, and intentions. And once you do know how to conjugate “to need”, you’ll be able to pair it with “help”, “doctor”, “directions”, “chocolate”, and all those other great bits of vocabulary you’ve amassed in your reservoir.
Our CEO Michael Quinlan discusses our “declarative first” methodology further:
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