Feedback IS understood by most people to be important but it remains one of the least understood areas in learning a language. Without feedback, how can we improve? The answer is we can't. Feedback is like water; without it, learning cannot survive for too long.
If you want to learn more effectively, then you need to learn to better recognise it and to value more what you see, hear and understand. When we learn to drive, we use our experiences to improve our skills. We learn that if we move the steering wheel too far, we turn more than we need to. We learn that the speed we drive affects how fast and how far we need to turn the steering wheel. And so on. No one can teach us all the variations. We have to learn them by ourselves through watching and feeling. All that we see and feel is feedback.
Learning a language is similar, in that no one can teach us all there is to know in a language. We have to learn it ourselves by becoming more and more observant. In every area of language, we are talking about different kinds of feedback. In the area of pronunciation, our awareness at different times has to stretch to many areas, including:
- how we say each each sound in a word
- how we link the sounds together within a word
- how we link words together
- what rhythm do we use to tie a stream of words together
- how we express meaning in the tones we use
When we come to an awareness about how we speak, we then have to relate that to how others speak. If we discern differences, we then have to change how we speak in some way and then see if the changes have brought us closer or further away.
Each and every aspect of what I just talked about requires that we recognise the information that comes to us. The information we get is feedback.
Others can also consciously give us feedback, like a teacher. Sometimes our friends and family give us feedback, some of which we welcome and some of which we may not! 🙂 Sometimes they give us feedback without even noticing they do...like with a smile, a raised eyebrow or a grimace.
If you are having difficulty in improving, it can be because you are either not looking for OR recognising the feedback you are getting. Getting some professional feedback can sometimes act to change that and put you on a quite different road, a road where you start to open your eyes and ears more. That can make all the difference.