Experiencing a new language

In this section, you are invited to create a short language-learning exercise as a starting point for further reflection. Learning a new language helps to evoke prior language acquisition or language learning experiences. This exercise can create a useful learning environment in that you experience the same situation that many learners of L1 as a language of instruction encounter in daily school life. This experience can help raise awareness of the vagaries of the language-learning process and the general learning strategies that support it.

What you will learn in this section

The aims of this section are to reflect on:

  • your own experiences with new languages?;
  • different language-learning strategies and how these strategies support learners to improve their language learning in the language of schooling and in other languages they bring to the classroom, and to develop them in an adequate way. 

(see also Marille 2011, 33–36)


  • Language learning experience
  • Reflecting on a language learning experience

Language learning experience

The aim here is to experience what it is like to be exposed to a new language and to reflect on and consider the feelings and strategies related to dealing with this experience.

You can create a short language-learning exercise using video clips.

Alternatively, in groups, have one person teach a short informal language course (suggestion: some basic vocabulary, action words or greetings) to the other participants. Any language spoken by one or more of the participants is welcome.

  • Instruction for the teachers/students who are teaching: use just the language you choose for this mini-language course.
  • Instruction for students who are learning the language: choose the group according to the language that you are less familiar with.

Reflect on your experience using this reflection sheet.

Everyone learns in a different way and will have his or her own learning strategies. Which are your favourite language-learning strategies?

You can find some general language-learning tips here. 

Reflecting on a language learning experience

Try to remember one of your language-learning experiences.

Take notes and write a short text focusing on one special experience. Try to describe the good or bad feelings you remember.

Alternatively, after your mini language-learning experience (see language-learning experience), discuss the following:

  • What feelings emerged during the experience?
  • How did your feelings change during the learning experience?
  • What was especially easy/difficult for you?
  • How did you find the setting (method/speed)?
  • Did you use any helpful learning strategies? If so, which ones?

Write a short text: what do these experiences mean to you as a (future) teacher?

You can find an example here.


Header image based on "Bud in the light" by photophilde (CC BY-SA 2.0).