Learning languages well and successfully, maintaining and expanding existing language skills is language learning competence. It is a capacity for the lifelong use of foreign languages. Their relevance for life in a multilingual Europe is obvious. Joan Rubin has summarized “good language learning” in only a few points. There you will find what distinguishes good language learning. Many hints can also be found in the European Language Portfolios.
Good language learning in general
Good language learning varies individually. Foreign language researchers speak of the “maverick hypothesis” (Riemer). Nevertheless, some common characteristics of good language learning can be found across individual features. They include (incomplete list) the following interacting variables:
Motivation: Learners must want to learn the target language(s). Their motivation can be intrinsic, i.e. integrative or instrumental in relation to the target language group, or extrinsic, mainly caused by the individual’s own social environment. In the first case, communication (use) in the target language is clearly in the foreground and sympathy for a target society is strong.
Learning awareness: Good learners observe their own learning (learning monitoring). They set themselves learning objectives and register what they (must) do to achieve the targeted results. They are attentive to what causes their learning success, what causes a relative failure – and draw conclusions. With this in mind, they design a learning plan. Points of reference for self-monitoring are:
- What is my learning-relevant prior knowledge? Learning methodology? Target language? plurilingualism? How do I use this knowledge? How do I ensure sustainability?
- What are my learning objectives in the areas of listening comprehension, (intercultural) speaking, reading comprehension, writing? What methods do I use to achieve what?
- What are my learning objectives in the area of knowledge about language (grammar, vocabulary, communication, et cetera), language learning or language learning competence?
- How do I control my learning plan and its adherence?
Intercomprehension based learning
Deciphering a foreign language = acquiring it intercomprehensively means the reflexive approach to an overall comprehension based learning task. This alone explains the importance of reflexive procedures and of comparing corresponding linguistic patterns for the deployment of language learning skills.