October 17

What traditional school systems do silly wrong

I studied French for many years. Nonetheless, if I would speak to a French guy right now, I would fail miserably! I remember the “passé compose” which is a grammar term and a few single words. But that’s it.

Do I have to know what, for example, the past perfect, is to be fluent in a language?

I answer this with a counter-question.

Do you have to know how a car engine works, in order to drive?


Do you have to know how iOs works in the background to call somebody with your cellphone?

Obviously not right? It feels even stupid when you think about it. Yet that is what the school system put the main focus on!

But traditional school focuses on understanding the mechanism of a language. Which is a good thing… IF YOUR GOAL IS TO GET A LINGUIST. It doesn’t help anybody to improve their fluent speaking.

To expect that is silly as to study which muscles you need in order to run a marathon. And after three months of preparation you know that the names of those are:

  • Glutes
  • Quads
  • Hip flexors
  • Hamstrings
  • Calf muscles

And when you start running the marathon, you realize you are not prepared at all because your learning approach was false.

So maybe I’m a little bit too harsh with my critics of the traditional school system. Of course, you learn stuff in there which you can use later. Still, it will never let you succeed in getting fluent in a language without any OTHER SOURCE of learning.

Guys who speak a language well after school had additional sources of learning on top

Basically, you learn stuff, which is related to the language, but barely things that you can actually use in real life. Conversations in textbooks are fake and no native speaker would ever speak like this. And if you face a native speaker you wonder why you can’t understand what he says, at worst, not even the welcoming.

Real world:

Howsa goin?

But you learned:

Hello, how are you?

Maybe your spelling is even better than the one of a native speaker. But if you can’t communicate properly this isn’t the thing you want to prioritize!

As I was in elementary school, teachers taught a language that was a second language for them. No doubt about their skills, and the fact that they knew the mechanism of the language better than a normal native speaker.

But in fact, they never pronounce words, use specific phrases and idioms as a native speaker does. Neither they are using the language of how it is used in the real world.

This is real-life evidence that learning with text-based content won’t prepare you. This is, by the way, a real-life story really happened… and the guy was me 🙂

You learned your native language from native speakers, not from persons who studied it as a second language

In a nutshell, the traditional school system uses these methods:

  • Memorizing vocabulary words
    • It’s dry and boring
    • Not connecting
  • Drill grammar rules
    • Vocabulary learning seems interesting in comparison to this!
    • How is this helpful for me again?
  • Writing words correctly
    • Yes, that’s useful… AFTER I can speak proper
  • Bending words
    • Everybody loves this
  • Fill out textbook exercises
    • Yeah well, it’s good preparation for an exam
  • Listen to audio files
    • Okay now we hear how the language sounds… every third week for 15 minutes
  • Test the skills with exams
    • That is the reason you learn the way you do, it’s good and easy for the teacher to test his pupils
  • A language stay in another country
    • Awesome now we’re talking! But that’s on top of the mandatory school system

Why they do it how they do?

Learning your native language in the traditional school

If you went to school the first time you were about six years old. You were already able to speak pretty decently. So you brought already a broad knowledge about your native language with you, before having the first class in your life.

The school taught you to read & write, but understanding and speaking was a skill you owned before entering the school

What did you learn in the beginning of the classes of your mother tongue?

Vocabulary? Flashcards?

NO OF COURSE NOT! You knew the most important words already and you did NEVER learn new words with flashcards.

I remember my first German class, we had a very simple task. To write every single letter of the alphabet. Or it was even more painting in the beginning.

In summary, we began to…

translate the spoken language to the written language. And vice versa.

After we were able to read we practiced writing and reading in the classes. Later came the part of, understanding why we use certain grammar terms and how they are called.

I actually was always really good at German grammar, even tho they say it’s a difficult language.

But to be honest I didn’t become a linguist so this knowledge is sort of unnecessary for me. Unnecessary as if you learn the technical aspects of a car engine with the goal of driving safely.

We had that comparison earlier in this article but I was so proud of it so I added it twice 😉

Is that something bad? Hell no!

It’s great! I thank my teachers for teaching me how to read, and how to write, it was very helpful for my later life.

Learning a second language in the traditional school

Now we get to the point when a second language came into picture.

And if you think about it, it’s very logical to think, “Ah the German classes worked well, now the pupil speaks, reads and writes. It makes sense to frame the classes similar for the second language”

One big fact they miss out tho… a real big fact!

In comparison to your native language, you have ZERO SKILLS in speaking or understanding the second language.

For the second language, they use the same method as for your first language, ignoring the fact the condition ist not near the same

Very early in that foreign language class, you get a textbook and learn how the language looks like… in words. You get to learn vocabulary and to bend the most important words as homework.

  • Je suis
  • Tu es
  • Il/elle est
  • Nous sommes
  • Vous êtes
  • Ils/Elles sont

(I actually did remember this by heart. Power of the repetition!)

We learned before:

In school you spoke already, what you learned was mainly to write and to read. You started to learn Grammar terms and their names. The actual grammar terms you mastered already subconsciously before you came to school.

The system of teaching is very similar to a second language. The spoken aspect is NOT a big thing in there and that’s why most of the people can’t speak comfortably after school.

A friend of mine, she reads books, pure English novels, but in real conversations, she can barely express herself.

And it is not your nor her fault! The school system teaches you the second language IN your native language. They program you, to translate in your head!

With that approach, you learn the words connected to the appearance and not the sound of the word. This makes you slow in understanding and hesitant if you want to speak.

This is a big factor which makes people think it’s about them. They believe that they should be able to speak after school.

But they teach you to write before speaking. They skip the most essential part of a language and want to press it all together in a small timeframe.

Who else was scared about this pen?

On top of that, it is way easier to test a person in an exam and give grades if you have written content. You see the typos and the not perfect grammar and the teacher can correct it with a red pen.

However, this is not maths where is just one solution. It’s two extremely different topics that share, in traditional schools, the same evaluation method.

Okay … you told us why you don’t like the traditional school system but what is your solution then?

That’s true, I can’t just criticize something and not come up which solutions.

If you noticed, I highlighted essential things for learning a language properly. For this article, I won’t go into detail anymore but find in the next article how I put all the things together.

Learn a new language like a baby.

In there I show you exactly how the program, I built on my own, is constructed, why I integrated certain things, and what is the best transition for learning like a baby…

…as an adult!

My next challenge is to learn Finnish, and because there is not yet such a platform to learn other languages, with the attributes I mentioned in this article, I’m VERY THRILLED to introduce you to this new and unique, 360-degree learning system.

…and I don’t speak about a specific language like English, German or French. Every language there is in the world benefits from this system.

Stay tuned!

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