Principles of languages

So far in the journey of learning English we have come to know that most of the people who want to learn English have not been able to learn English as a language, we have already covered that English is a language and language learning is quite different from learning other subjects.

Even when people accept English as a language they still don’t get the opportunity to learn it as a language. You see, every language has its own structures and expressions and every language is unique in its form so we cannot get the feeling of the language by just cramming the grammar and words, or, by translation.

It is impossible for you to become fluent unless you have the feeling for that language. Think about your own mother tongue, when you speak, write or read any sentence you have the feeling of the very sentence you are using. You never worry about the rule of grammar, you just speak it because you have the feeling that such and such sentence would fit in such and such situation.

While in English you cannot do because when you start to speak you always think about the rules of grammar. You think whether the sentence you speak is grammatically correct or not and that affects your fluency.

If it is your dream to learn English as a language, if it is your dream to speak English fluently then you must learn English as a language. In coming pages I am going to show you the basic but vitally important principles of the languages. Read with all the concentration and focus you have because once you understand these principles your journey to the fluency is half over.

To understand the principles of languages, we are taking our mother tongue Gujarati, as an example. We live in Gujarat and we have learnt Gujarati as our mother tongue. Same way someone, in Punjab, learns Punjabi, the person from France learns French and American learns English. The principle applied in learning all languages would be same.

Has it ever occurred to you how a child could learn to speak his mother tongue without attending any spoken classes in his mother tongue? A child adopts a natural way of learning his mother tongue. You may have seen in your family or in your neighborhood, lots of children learning and speaking their mother tongue.

For a child the family and surrounding is the tool for learning a language.He would listen to all the members of the family as well as other people in neighborhood. It’s a natural way for him to get the expression he wants.

He just listens the other people speaking, observes, tries to grab, and then tries to speak it himself. Whatever he listens, he speaks. These sentences are the ideas for him. There are no grammar rules for a child but just simple ideas of speech or expressions.

Here, we can write down this process in three simple words:

What does a child first do? He listens
Then He copies
And finally He tries to speak


This is how we get our first principle:

Listen Copy Speak


So, the first principle in learning languages is “listen-copy and speak”. This is how we learn our mother tongue. This is how, Americans learn English, people in Punjab learn Punjabi and the people in France learn French and rest of the people learn their mother tongue. This is the natural classical way of learning languages.

A child has got this natural instinct to learn his mother tongue. You would agree with me that long before a child goes to school he had started to speak his mother tongue. He learns to read and write in schools and not to speak.

As far as speech is concerned, 80% of it is learnt in this way. Whether it is English, Gujarati or any other language. You, yourself, could think how have you learnt Guajarati? By cramming the rules of Guajarati grammar or by listening?

So, if we follow this principle then the first thing you should understand or follow in learning any language is listening. Second, speaking, because it is the immediate step of the natural way of learning languages. Reading and writing would only come later. So the sequence of learning languages is as follow:

First        :      listening

Second   :       speaking

Third       :      reading

Fourth    :       writing.

Now, we had already had the discussion and you agreed with me that English is also a language so if you understand that English is a language then this principle is also applied to it.

That means, there should be the same way of learning English as a mother tongue in America, U.K, or other English speaking countries. A child in America would also learn with the same pattern in which he first listens, tries to copy and then speaks. In this way They are following the same pattern of learning their mother tongue. These can be shown in below chart.

Natural way of learning Gujrati      Natural way of learning English

 First        :    listening                          First        :      listening  

Second     :    Speaking                         Second   :      Speaking

Third        :    Reading                           Third      :       Reading

Fourth      :    Writing                            Fourth     :      Writing


In this way, all the languages could be learnt and should be taught. Now, let’s see, what happens when we learn English or any other language as a second or foreign language. English is simply a foreign language for us.

We have already discussed earlier some of the learning patterns which are followed to learn English.You have seen that most of them are not giving the slightest emphasis to listening which is the single most important tool for learning languages. Most of them are not following this natural pattern “listen- copy – speak.”

Normally, when we start learning English in fifth standard, we start with ABCD .from then, we would write, write, and write. First we write ABCD, then we write names, then we write grammar rules, then we write words, we write questions, we write answers, we write tenses, structures of tenses and plenty of other things.

Sometime we are given the task to write a word or sentence or paragraph for 10, 20, or 50 times. Students would get bored with this kind of cramming, lose their interest and finally give up learning English.

Secondly, this analysis shows us one more thing that people who want to learn English as a second language are doing lots of writing, a little reading, but never listen or speak. So the pattern which should be followed in learning English is being followed exactly opposite as compare to learning language with natural way.

We can see from this chart

      Natural way of                                  The way we learn

 Learning languages                               English as a second language

First         :      listening                              First          :    Writing

Second     :     Speaking                             Second      :     Reading

Third        :      Reading                              Third         :     Speaking

Fourth      :      Writing                               Fourth        :     Listening

We can clearly see from above chart that the people have never got the opportunity to learn English as a language. The way we learn English in schools, colleges, classes or most of the books is exactly opposite the way we learnt our mother tongue.

We can see that in learning languages naturally, listening comes first, however we don’t see any listening labs in most schools or colleges. In natural way of learning English writing is the last step, while we follow writing as the only step.

You can check yourself by comparing how you have learnt your mother tongue, most people would learn by applying the principle of listenimitate and speak to learn mother tongue while we can see that even in advanced courses of learning English, listening is given the least importance.If English is taught in this way which is exactly opposite from natural one,

How a person would become fluent?

How would he achieve the highest level of fluency?

This is the prime reason we are struggling in English language, so if you want to achieve the highest level of fluency you have to get on the track of speech. By doing so you would be able to learn the natural way and enjoy the fun of learning English. By this time, you have to remember the first principle of learning languages.

Listen – Copy – Speak. 

Principle. 2

So far, we have covered plenty of important things to understand the languages and seen the first principle, now we would go ahead with the second principle.

We understood that most people learn their mother tongue by listening. Now, when a child listens to his environment, he first tries to understand copy and then speak. But when a child tries to speak sentences he can’t speak the sentence perfectly at the very first attempt.

The child stumble, stutter at the first attempt, then he speaks the same sentence again and again and finally he would be able to speak it perfectly. You might have seen in your home how a child applies this process. But this process happens unconsciously and automatically that neither the child nor the parents realize how the child has learnt the language.

If you ask a child to speak “papa”. He would not speak “papa” perfectly in the first attempt. Gradually, he would start speaking perfectly. In the same way he would learn to speak other words, phrases and expressions. By the time, he reaches the age of fifteen; he would be able to produce most of the sentences, expressions, and structures in his mother tongue. This is the normal and natural process by which any child learns his or her mother tongue.

Has it ever occurred to you why a child is unable to speak words and sentences perfectly in first try?

It is due to the untrained muscles of his tongue and other speech generating organs. The tongue and other SGOS {speech generating organs} are not flexible enough to produce the language at that age. But, gradually and by practice this muscles are getting flexible. We have discussed earlier that this process occurs unconsciously, unintentionally and automatically.

( Note: speech generating organs(SGOS) are the organs of our body which produce the speech ; tongue,lips,throat,hard palate, soft palate,pharynx,larynx,lungs )

When, as an adult speaker, we learn other languages which are not our mother tongue we find the same difficulty as the child does in his mother tongue. Our tongue and speech generating organs don’t support us. It is enormously important for us to know this fact that unless we train our speech generating organs and tongue the structures and shapes of English, we could never become fluent speaker in English. See English is simply a foreign language for us. So in the case, when we try to speak, our tongue doesn’t support us.This is the core principle which should be understood when you are going to learn English,without understanding this principle no modern audio visual training will make you fluent.

This is the chief reason why people are not quite fluent in English even after being highly qualified. When they learn English they always learn it on the ground of grammar, and written English. When they learn English in that way they get the result – struggling, broken English. Some time we hear from people that they can read, write and understand what other people speak, but, they can’t speak themselves.Unfortunately, they never realize in their life time that they missed a core principle of learning languages. They wander here and there to learn English, work hard, and learn something. Speak in some situation with compromised English and then they satisfy themselves.

To speak with ease and comfort, to speak fluently in English you have to follow the principle which a child follows unconsciously. You have to train your speech generating organs. You have to train your tongue. Without training your speech generating organs, there is the least possibility for you to become fluent. You need to understand the fact that the reason people are struggling is they don’t know this principle that they have to train their speech generating organs. You may be 20 years old, or 30 or, 40 or more than that. But, as far as English is concerned, your tongue is not as old as you are.

Till date, you have just had a written practice, and whatever you know is in your brain, now you have to put up the efforts that the knowledge would come to the tip of your tongue when and where you want without any hesitation and with comfort, when you reach to that level you would take that you are already on the fluency path.

To get everything on the tip of your tongue you need to train your tongue and, to train your tongue you need to remember the second principle.

Speak aloud and several times. Not 10 times, not 100 time, but several times.

You have to speak every sentence, every word, every expression aloud and several times. That is the key to become fluent in English. You may wonder until now why you are not Fluent.  You don’t understand while trying to speak that your tongue and SGOS don’t support you.

So these are the main core principles of learning English language,

  1. Listen –copy- speak
  2. Speak aloud and several times.

From now on, make these two principles habit of your daily routine, get every opportunity to listen English. Listen to the people who speak good English, listen to movies, news channels and other English programs. Give yourself every opportunity to listen to English. Write down the sentences, words, expressions and structures you are getting form listening in your note book. Speak those sentences aloud several times, see saying words and sentences aloud and speaking them right is half the battle in feeling comfortable and assured with all the new words and structures you come across. Give your tongue enough practice to become flexible in English.

We would never realize that after learning lots of grammar rules, writing and cramming the words and working hard why we are not fluent enough, the reason is. Whatever we know is in our brain and not on the tip of our tongue. When we speak our tongue doesn’t support us and so does the SGOS. So, to get these organs aware we have to provide them enough practice.

You simply have to speak aloud and several times, don’t ask how many times? Just speak it aloud and several times, unless that sentence comes out of your mouth smoothly, easily and comfortably

Note : please follow below link to read the book chapter by chapter.

Oxygen for English