Here’s an example related to my previous post on xylophones and zebras.
I’ve been listening to Spanish With Michel Thomas in my car lately. These CDs are very different than the academic foreign language classes I’ve taken. Thomas emphasizes the regularities, not the exceptions. For example, he may give some rule and explain that around 3,000 words follow the pattern but there are 3 minor exceptions. He says what the exceptions are, but doesn’t dwell on them. In the classes I’ve taken, those 3 exceptions would certainly be on an exam and the 3,000 words that follow the rule would not.
There is a kind of logic to focusing on the exceptions, especially if the purpose is to assign grades rather than to actually teach people to use a foreign language, but it doesn’t build confidence. I feel like Michel Thomas is trying to increase my confidence and get me speaking the language as quickly as possible. That was definitely not the feeling I had when studying French in college.