Language is a tool

In case, you are hungry and want to eat some bread. You could, of course, go into the fields, collect some wheat, separate the grain from the grass, take it home, grind it, find some other things with it, and make a loaf of bread.Alternatively, you go to the corner store and use a few muscles in your  mouth and throat—‘A loaf of bread please.’ And then,’How much is that?’ Just by making a few sounds,  accompanied by appropriate gestures, and putting them together in a certain way, you are able to get your needs met.

Language gives you power to get things done.It’s a way of getting your needs met. The ability to interact with people. And, like any tool, the more you use it the better you get.

All of the great language learners that the author of The Third Ear have spoken to think of their new language as a tool. Think of it as something to use, not as something to study. This doesn’t mean that they don’t think about it and analyze it—you do find your own ways to think about your new language a lot when you’re learning it, trying to work out which words and which combinations get what results. Finding ways to remember the important pieces.

When learning other subjects such as history, we need to read it,  explore the sense of it, and then use what we study as a guidance.There’s no way we can use itself. However, we can use language itself to communicate with others and we through using to improve our ability to interact with people who speak another language.

As a tool, we needn’t to exactly recite or explore the whole language. It’s a bit like a dictionary. when we need it we use it  rather than recite or explore it. The more we use it, the faster we can use it. As a Chinese, I can speak Chinese, and I didn’t recite any Chinese dictionary.And I’ve never studied the whole language. I even didn’t study and use Chinese consciously. All of things I do is communicating. For this purpose, I speak Chinese again and again.Before I went to school, I had already been a fluent Chinese speaker. 

Through the experience of learning my mother tongue, I see that language is just a tool, not a subject.

To summarize, if you want to approach the task of learning a language, don’t study it, just use it as a tool.


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