English and IT: an English owl on a Russian globe?
People with a technical mindset are eager to find a system in everything. When learning English, so in demand in IT, many programmers are faced with the fact that they can not understand how this language is structured, its system.
What is the problem? It would seem that a programmer who often speaks of several formal programming languages, or a system administrator, who can play with complex systems effortlessly, should easily learn such a simple language as English.
Unfortunately, in the common practice of learning English is not so simple. They teach the language and write humanities manuals with a different mindset than that of technical specialists. Conditionally, the creators of programs and manuals for learning English presented on the current market can be divided into two categories:
- Russian-speaking humanities practicing the grammar-translation method ;
- Native speakers, humanities practicing a communicative approach .
Both approaches to teaching English have both advantages and disadvantages. A common feature unites them: methods are built from elements to the general, i.e. to a system to which, more often than not, in practice, things never get to.
Starting learning on the basis of this principle, a person does not have a clear idea of what kind of language system he will study. During the learning process, the student does not have a clear idea of exactly which segment of the system he is currently training, how the element being studied is built into the general scheme, and where exactly it will be in demand. In general, there is no structure necessary for a specialist in a technical profession (and not only) in order to meaningfully train a skill.
Russian-speaking authors of textbooks based on the grammar-translation principle practically implement in the exercises a descriptive, or discriminatory, grammar, which theoretical linguists deal with, which has only an indirect relation to speech practice. Despite the deep study of grammatical elements, which this method differs in, the result obtained, as a rule, comes down to well-developed elements of the system, which often remain with the student only fragmentary knowledge, not gathered into the practical system of a living language.
The communicative approach boils down to memorizing speech patterns, which, in turn, also does not provide meaningful language skills at the level of the speech creator. Since the creators of the communicative approach are the speakers themselves, they can only offer their own idea of the language from the inside, being unable to present it, interpreting it from the outside as a system that contrasts with the system of the native language of the Russian-speaking student.
Moreover, the speakers do not even suspect that their Russian-speaking students are in a completely different language paradigm and operate on completely different grammatical categories. Therefore, paradoxically, native speakers who do not speak the Russian language cannot convey to the Russian-speaking all the nuances of their native English.
Global owl problem
The Russian system and the English system contrast even on the cognitive plane. For example, the category of time in English is interpreted completely differently than in Russian. These are two grammars, built on the opposite principles: English is an analytical language, while Russian is a synthetic language .
Starting to learn the language without taking into account this most important nuance, the student falls into the trap. By default, naturally seeking to find a familiar system, our minds think that they are learning the same language as Russian, but only English. And, no matter how much the student studies English, he goes on a loop, without suspecting it, continues to "pull the English owl onto the Russian globe." This process can take years or even decades.
“What to do?”, Or Deployment to the brain
It is very easy to break the deadlock in the framework of the “Method 12” approach, tailored to the particularities of Russian-speaking technical specialists. The author solves the above difficulties by introducing two unusual elements into training.
First, before starting to study English, the student clearly learns the difference between Russian and English grammars, starting in his native language to distinguish between these two ways of thinking.
Thus, the student gains reliable immunity from falling into the “bug” of the intuitive “pulling English into Russian”, which delays the learning process for a long time, as described above.
Secondly, the framework of the cognitive logic system of the English language is loaded into the consciousness in the native language before the study of English itself begins. That is, learning is built from mastering the general grammatical algorithm to practicing its particular elements. Further, filling this framework with English-language content, the student uses grammar constructions already familiar to him.
“Russian Revolution”, or Miracles of Psycholinguistics
Both stages take only about 10 academic hours of classes with a teacher or some time for a student to independently work out on materials laid out in the public domain. Such a preliminary investment, in addition to being a rather fascinating process for the student, representing a kind of mind game, saves a tremendous amount of time and financial resources, creates a comfortable atmosphere of conscious mastery of the skill, and significantly increases the student’s self-esteem.
As the practice of using this method has shown, IT specialists master and learn English grammar better and faster than other students - an algorithmized and deterministic approach to grammar, the simplicity and logic of the system correlate perfectly with the professional skills of techies.
The author called this systemic academic life hacking “Method 12” by the number of basic types of temporary forms (or, in everyday life, “tenses”) that make up the skeleton of the English grammar system.
It should be mentioned that this applied technique is a practical implementation of the theoretical principles of psycholinguistics formulated by such outstanding scientists as N. Chomsky, L. Shcherba, P. Halperin.