What is the best way to learn a language?
We’ve all heard of Rosetta Stone. Personally I think Rosetta Stone gets pretty boring after talking to your computer monitor for ten hours. Traditional high school and college courses are heavy on reading and writing but soft on speaking and listening. Pimsleur audiobooks are extremely convenient and teach you valuable phrases. But we all know the best way to learn Chinese is to live in China, and the best way to learn Portuguese is to live in Brazil, just like the best way to learn Afrikaans is to live in South Africa (well either that, or learn Dutch or German). Anyway, you know what I’m saying.
The point is that, if you want learn a language, you need to facilitate the necessity. You need to live the language. If you were dropped into any unknown country or city you would slowly but surely pick up the language. Why? Because you need to communicate! Knowing how to say “I want one of this!” in any language could be the magic key to getting a meal in your stomach for the night. Total immersion allows you to learn 24/7, conscious or subconscious.
While our country is more like 1871 and we are communicating with computers instead of people, I would say that the Starter League is pretty similar to parachuting into a foreign country. The environment and content is new, the experience is a bit overwhelming, but it is always rewarding and there is always someone who is willing to help you.
In the first week of the Web Dev class we installed Ruby on Rails and have started learning HTML, CSS, Ruby, and Unix. We are using pair programming to articulate the mental process of programming and build community through total participation. The instructors are fantastic and my peers are awesome. No grades, no final, no diploma. There is only potential to be realized.
It’s Friday night and I’m sitting here at my computer thinking about how I need to finish this blog post, design my website, practice more methods and loops in Ruby, and fix this glitch problem with Spotify in Linux. It’s a long el-ride home, so I’m gonna take a break for now. Until next week!