Is it possible to OVER LEARN English?

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To make this nice and short – No.

It’s like asking someone if you can over learn anything. However saying this, there is a point where you can know so much grammar that you are too afraid to use it in case you get it wrong by accident, or you sit and listen to yourself speak when you are trying to speak naturally, you end up sounding like a robot.

The ultimate goal of any English learner is to become fluent, and fluency is never something that comes easily, it only comes from hours of usage. The more you use your English the more fluent you get.

So don’t be afraid to learn more than you need, English is the kind of subject that will decrease in size if you are heavy handed with it, it will only increase the more you read, listen, speak and write.

One thing to always remember though is to make sure you are learning ‘evenly’ all the disciplines. Don’t spend all your time learning the grammar and not speaking or speaking every day but not bothering with learning the correct grammar. Balance is something to be more interested in than ‘over learning’.

So get out there and learn as much as you can, ‘over-learning’ is something you need to aim for, so long as it doesn’t make you lose confidence or slow you down.

What do you think?

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3 thoughts on “Is it possible to OVER LEARN English?

  1. I would say that the short answer is “Yes – but it’s a good thing.” Overlearning is a technical term which refers to continuing to practice something even after basic understanding is gained. It’s necessary for the automaticity which leads to mastery. In other words, as you stated in your post, continuing to practice something even after you’ve understood the basic concept is necessary for fluency!

    But, as you also stated, balance is key. Overlearning grammar can make you sound robotic – unless you are also overlearning (continuing to practice) conversations and natural speech!

    I’ve been studying a fascinating practice called interleaving (I will probably write a blog post on it sometimes in the next few days), which basically means studying one thing, then going and studying something else, then coming back and studying the first thing. The brain science is complicated, but according to what I’ve been reading, it’s the best way to help the brain assimilate new material.

    A practical example for learning English, for example, might be studying grammar for 25 minutes, taking a 5-minute break, then studying vocabulary for 25 minutes, then going back to grammar; take another 5 minute break and spend 25 minutes practicing conversation and speaking naturally, then back to vocabulary, for example. I love this approach because 1) it helps you learn better, 2) it keeps you balanced, and 3) it keeps you from getting bored! You can’t beat that, right?

    • Yes, I like that idea of ‘interleaving’, it is a little along the line of ‘integrated learning’, where you tackle grammar in one context (e.g. speaking), then reading, then have some everyday English exercises, then back to the grammar concept and what it is etc. It makes sense that our brain needs a variety in our diet of information to assimilate or can we get bored, and when we get bored we lose attention. Thanks for the input…interleaving is an interesting thing to think about.

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