Christi Belcourt: What Adult Learners Need


Thanks to Christi Belcourt for permission to share this graphic (with its unmistakable painted beadwork) – and for allowing us to share the thoughts that give it context as well. As a second (and third!) language learner, Christi’s insights are valuable to other adult learners who tend to put a lot of pressure on themselves. I especially appreciate that the centre of the image, so lovingly embellished, is bilingual in Cree and Ojibwe!

Cree kiya (you) = Ojibwe giin (you). 

A couple years ago Brooke Simon, who is a 2nd language speaker and a language teacher at an immersion school was helping me to understand what it takes to become a 2nd language speaker as an adult.

She spoke about how children just need to hear the language to speak it but as adult learners our brains are too hardened so we need more than just listening.

She spoke about how you need to have both input and output to become a language speaker. She said adult learners need to:

1. Improve listening skills and one way is by doing transcribing. She said it “tuned up the ear”. She also mentioned translations as a way to improve listening.

2. Study Grammar. She and other 2nd language learners have all said they had to buckle down and learn grammar.

3. Reading and writing is also an important way to learn for adult learners. She mentioned written translating from English to Anishinaabemowin and also Anishinaabemowin to English as an exercise to help.

4. However…..she said….gii kida….”you will never be a speaker without speaking.” She said you have to speak and push through the feelings of being uncomfortable. And Alan Corbiere just reminded me of that.

I’m taking this advice seriously.

I’m at the point now where I am holding myself back. I have very little experience in speaking and forming sentences within a conversation. I feel scared to speak. I’m having confidence issues and suffering from imposter syndrome. From what I’ve read, this is common in 2nd language learners experiences.

I’m not experiencing fear of mistakes because I have a very healthy way of laughing at myself and don’t mind making mistakes. God knows I’ve made enough of them in my life to be comfortable with mistake making by now lol.

Anyhow I’m sharing because others might read this and relate to it.

Thanks, Christi: miigwech, kinanâskomitin! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Contact Us: