Five tips for techies when learning a foreign language

door Regina Coeli

Did you have a hard time learning foreign languages in school, or perhaps reduce grammar rules to simple mathematical formulas which led to erratic outcomes? Then it could be that you have an analytical brain and that you chose a more or less technical education and profession.

So far so good, until your employer expects you to do what you do now in German as well, or until you have to explain how certain things work to a group of Spaniards…

Everyone can learn a foreign language

No reason to panic. The idea that you are not cut out for learning languages is nonsense. Everyone can learn a foreign language. You just learn it differently to the way it is taught at secondary school—most of the time this mainstream approach is not a great match for your how type of brain works. Read on to learn how to best approach learning languages.

Huub van Rooij knows all about this subject. He studied land and water engineering at the Universiteit of Wageningen and then worked as an engineer in countries all over the world for over 25 years. He learnt four languages because he was thrown into situations where he had no other choice. He remembers well the frustration he felt learning irregular verbs in all those languages. That you never know what life will bring your way is clear from the fact that Huub is now a Dutch trainer at Language Institute Regina Coeli. He now helps others make Dutch their own.

Understand the logic of a language

“Techies learn a language by understanding the logic behind it,” he explains. “If you ‘get’ the language, you don’t have to remember much else. For techies, the ‘why’ question is really important, while someone else would just accept things as they are.

It is precisely for that reason that someone with a technical brain appears to learn slowly in the beginning, but that is actually not the case. A techie first wants to understand the big picture. We do not just start building recklessly when we want to build a bridge. First we measure, then we make a design and only once we know exactly what we want to do, do we start building. That is how it also works when speaking a foreign language. It has nothing to do with a fear of speaking or perfectionism. It is a pitfall, however: you can always escape to grammar.”

Huub has five tips for techies who want (or have to) learn a language:

1. Do not believe anybody who says techies are not very good at languages. You learn languages differently and can speak languages just as well and learn them just as quickly as other people.

2. Create overviews: use schemes, be sure to structure information and work with colour as much as possible. Make sure you have the ‘big picture’ and then zoom in on subjects from there. You can make flow charts for languages, too.

3. Make sure you understand it—then you do not have to remember it.

4. Try to discover the system in texts. Unravel the rules. Observe how the rules are applied.

5. Do not memorise lists.

So, is it an advantage to learn a language from another techie? “No, that’s not necessary,” thinks Huub. “My colleagues without technical backgrounds know that there are numerous learning styles and can adjust their teaching style from person to person. That is the advantage of individual lessons. You learn in a way which fits you best. A good language trainer adapts to the student’s needs.”


Interested in following language training at Regina Coeli?

The Regina Coeli method ensures that you learn to speak a foreign language quickly and effectively. Our highly qualified trainers teach you the skills, vocabulary and grammar that you need for your specific situation so you can immediately start communicating in the language.

Do you require more information? Please contact us!

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