In the language learning community you hear it a lot:
The language taught in most courses and apps isn’t the real language the man on the street speaks.
And this causes a huge gap between the “real” language and the version the learner is learning.
Some go as far as saying that the formal language of courses should be ditched completely.
So should it?
Don’t think so.
The Language of Most Courses and Apps is Great for Beginners
For beginner learners, this version of the language is exactly what they need.
It’s a great framework.
You can use it as a base to learn more colloquial terms and get out of the intermediate stage.
And, very importantly:
It’s generally more basic and logical than colloquial language, and thus helps to minimize confusion early on.
The Most Important Conversations are Almost Always of a Formal Nature
At the airport, at the hospital, at the police station and…with cab drivers…bueno, maybe not with cab drivers…
The point is, if you go a country where they speak your new language you’d better get those basics right first.
Many learners experience a sort of shock if they go straight from course language to the experience of the real language.
This doesn’t mean that the version of the language they learned sucks as learning material.
It just means they haven’t taken the time to also learn colloquial language when the time was ripe for it. (From the intermediate stage onward.)
Even so, it’s still preferable to do it this way than to focus almost exclusively on colloquial language from the start.
That would be a mess.
Can you imagine what would happen on your first trip to a country where the language is spoken?
You talking all slang, and the native speaker firing back simple things you don’t really understand.
Simple things…that could be extremely important things…like “Lay down, please. So we can treat your wounds.”
When You Build Your House, Call Me
The language of courses and apps gets bashed left and right.
I guess it’s the cool thing to do…
But this type of language is a good framework from which you can start to learn the colloquial language.
Both types of languages are important if you want to be fluent.
But if you want to build a house, you first have to lay the foundation. Then you have a good base to put the rest of the house on top of it.
The understanding of this, will help you see the importance of the “course version” of a language and make peace with it.