Ignorance as a learning tool


You probably never thought of it that way but it just occurred to me at the most random time: riding a bus to work.

I like languages. I was born with Tagalog(Philippines), very soon learned English then during my university years, took French seriously. Since my girlfriend is Hungarian, I pick a couple of those too. Her secondary language (or tertiary after English) is German. Hungary deals a lot with German speaking countries (eg: Austria and Germany itself).

I learn, I like and I try to muster as much as I can. Two very effective concepts that help me learn languages are:

1.) (What most people suggest) is to unlearn and forget everything you know in language and take the language learning as it is.

2.) (My own developed concept) is to try to mimic humans who really learn languages and words quickly. And who might these be you ask? Babies. Yes. They learn languages the best and whatever they learn, they seem to be really fluent at it for the rest of their lives.

Throughout my experience, I not only improve at learning a language but also improve at the process of learning a language. Some quick points I’ve developed (which might be helpful for you):

-If you’re trying to speak a language and it sounds shit or you’re butchering or making fun of the language (relative to your primary language), you’re probably doing it right.

-When you’re learning a new language, do not compare it with your primary language (eg: “A red car” is “Une voiture rouge” in french which word-per-word, translates to “A car red”. Why is it not “Une rouge voiture”. Just don’t ask. That’s there language structure. That’s how they say it. You have no right to dictate to them. Being ethnocentric in terms of your language doesn’t help, in fact it slows you down.

Anyways, rounding it back to the title of this blog is, the bottom point is that I realized that you have to be “ignorant” to learn (a language at least). Sounds counter-intuitive right? But hear me out. When learning a language some people say you have to forget and/or unlearn what you know about the primary language you know to learn another. The intent is good, but the processes are impossible. You can’t “forget” the number 4 in your vocabulary or else you’d have to pause every time after citing 3 when counting. You can’t “unlearn” english or else that’d mean you’d have to do baby talk from the point onwards after that. What you’re actually doing is “try to…set aside what you already know and forcefully not think about it (sounds familiar?!) while we’re in the process of learning a new language”. If you don’t do this, you’d question more what’s being taught rather than putting to effort in understanding and learning. Things won’t stick to the wall too.

…never thought of it that way huh…


This is not a post to excuse or justify ignorance in the form of racism and any other serious social concerns like that. Nope. I’m just sharing to you my a’ha moment in the bus 🙂


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