What is the ideal learning content for our members?
The Linguist is an input based or content based language learning system.
We feel that with an efficient word and phrase learning system like ours, the language itself is the best textbook and the best teacher. The Linguist is just a community of learners and tutors helping you along as you improve your English through reading and listening to as much content as possible.
So, what is the best content to learn from?
Stephen Krashen, who has had a great influence on me and on many language learners, talks of comprehensible content. By that he means content that is just a little difficult for the learner. He uses the term N + 1 content. If the content is too difficult, it is frustrating and destroys the learner's confidence and flow. If the content is too easy, the learner is not increasing his or her vocabulary and knowledge. This is especially true when reading.
At The Linguist we believe that there are other factors that are important. Any language learning content must be interesting to the learner. We also think that learners should read and listen to a variety of content. While it is useful to concentrate on one subject area at a time, it is also a good idea to move on to another subject area after a while.
If you can listen to content a few times before reading, you will be able to read more difficult content than if you just start reading without listening. It is sometimes a good idea to try harder content in order to challenge yourself. Sometimes N + 2 or N + 3 content is good, as long as you can listen to this content first.
On the other hand, sometimes it is good to listen to easy content. I have always recommended going back to content that you studied earlier. This is often very enjoyable. You will meet the words and phrases you studied earlier. It will help you to become confident enough to use them. I also recommend listening repetitively to easy content when you want to work on pronunciation. When listening to easy content you should repeat phrases out loud as you hear them.
Higher intermediate and advanced learners have no trouble finding content to learn from. The Linguist library is full of good content with both sound to listen to and texts to read. It is not difficult to find appropriate interesting content for the more advanced learner.
However, the beginner and lower intermediate learners have a more difficult time. Most language learners complain about the uninteresting nature of textbook content or “learner content”. At the same time, it is frustrating to have to read content that is too difficult. At The Linguist we have produced beginner and lower intermediate content which can be found in the Easy Starters section of The Linguist Library. “The Power of the Linguist”, a simple story in 26 sections, is one example. I had this translated into Russian and listened to it at least 30 times. I found it very helpful in my Russian learning.