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Dr Klaus Bung
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Blackburn BB1-8DL

(c) 2010 Klaus Bung

Teachers tell you what to learn, IDYLL shows you how to learn it

Klaus Bung:

From word to discourse: A lesson with SENTAL,
How to absorb new vocabulary and grammar

SENTAL in practice

For intermediate and advanced learners



The five steps

Step 1: Get a new WORD


Step 2: Illustrate the meaning of WORD

Step 3: Search for its parts (morphemes)

Step 4: Put WORD into practice

Step 5: Teach the method to others

SENTAL applied to speech

Problems of language practice on the Internet

How to teach SENTAL to others

Benefits of SENTAL

The importance of communication skills


The system of Dynamic Language Learning (DYLL) teaches you how to absorb and retain what you are being taught in classes, from books and courses and from other speakers, including international chat friends on the Internet.

This article describes a simplified example of one SENTAL session. For a comprehensive introduction to SENTAL (Sentence Algorithm) see Klaus Bung: "The Sentence Algorithm: How to eradicate your mistakes in English - or any other language". The technique is intended for intermediate language students.

Students who apply this technique will learn more than if they merely enjoy random chatting with their language partners over the Internet. The technique can also be used when teacher (mentor) and student are sitting face to face in the same room.

The technique applies to any language. The example given here is what happened over the web with an Iranian student learning English. The student was at intermediate level in English. The teacher did not know any Farsi; i.e. the instructions and explanations had to be be given in English.

In situations where the teacher knows the student's language and where the student is less advanced, some of the explanations can be given in the student's language.

The five steps

The procedure described here consists of five steps:

Step 1: Get a new WORD
Step 2: Illustrate the meaning of WORD
Step 3: Search for its parts (morphemes)
Step 4: Put WORD into practice.
Step 5: Share the method

Step 1: Get a new WORD

Language students have two aims:

  • to expand their knowledge of the language: to increase the number of words, idioms and grammatical rules they can use and thoughts they can express and understand, i.e. to increase their repertory
  • to fortify their skills, i.e. reduce their mistakes and increase their confidence.

The procedure described here serves both purposes.

For simplicity's sake, we talk here only of WORDS, but whatever we say of words applies also to sentences, fixed phrases, idioms, grammatical rules and their applications through examples.


New words have to come from somewhere? They are really valuable only if the student wants to use them and can imagine how and in what context, for what purpose, he might use them.

He therefore searches for a word in a dictionary or in the word list of his textbook. Once he has found the word, he has to verify that this is the right word and that he knows how to use it. We can also call this "testing" and "exploring".

The student does this in the subsequent steps.

He can also come across a new word because he hears it in a conversation and asks for its meaning. Or it can be "thrown at him" by one of his chat friends, e.g. through MSN.

The new word may be contained in his textbook, or it may have been given to him in his language class or by his private teacher.

The student may hear the new word on the radio, or on TV, or in a pop song.

New words may also come from error corrections in SENTAL exercises. They are a by-product of mistakes and what the teacher says about these mistakes. This will be seen in the session that follows. In this respect mistakes are very useful. They make the student aware of things he still has to learn and how they can be useful.

An old DYLL proverb says: "Mistakes are the rungs on the ladder to success. If you do not make mistakes, and if you do not risk mistakes, you will learn nothing new."

Certainly the student can make proper progress only if there is a continous flow (not too small and not too big) of new "words", as defined above.

One way of ensuring that there is such a flow of new words is regular reading of entertaining material, newspapers, magazines, internet publications, short stories and novels (classical and modern). A good source of stories for beginners are the simplified versions of classical novels now available for beginners, at least in English. xxx give link


Google for:

"simplified novels", English, Longmans

to find a larger selection of such books for learners of English.


Step 2: Illustrate the meaning of WORD

The student decides that the new word she wants to ***verify*** is "afternoon".

Teacher: "Do you know the meaning of this word?"

The question about meaning also implies: "Do you know how to use it?"

Student: "Yes."

Teacher: "Prove it to me. Write a sentence containing that word."

Student: "I visit my friends on the afternoon."

Teacher: " <on the afternoon> is wrong. In English you say:
in the afternoon
in the morning
in the evening


at lunchtime
at night

Note these examples for further SENTAL exercises.

The correct sentence will be: <I visit my friends in the afternoon.>, or <In the afternoon I visit my friends.>

Now I will give you some sentences with <afternoon>.

<In the morning my children go to school. At 12.30 they have lunch at home, and in the afternoon they do their home work.> "

That was the teacher's input to the student.

In SENTAL, when we speak of trial sentences, these do not have to be single sentences but a "sentence" may also be a paragraph; just enough information to make the meaning of the word clear.

The teacher's sentence here is better than that of the student because it makes the meaning of "afternoon" clear, by placing it after lunch, and contrasting it with "in the morning". Ideally the student will produce such sentences. These are non-trivial sentences (in the theory of SENTAL). Non-trivial sentences are liable to contain additional mistakes (and learning opportunities).

The student sentence was a trivial sentence. Once he has learnt to say "in the afternoon", not much can go wrong. Other trivial sentences would be:

  • "In the afternoon I read a book",
  • "It rains in the afternoon",
  • "I sleep in the afternoon".

All the student is practising in such sentences is "in the".

Step 3: Search for its parts (morphemes)

This is an essential part of the DYLL approach. We atomise what we learn and then put it together again, in its original form and with different 'partners'. The elements (morphemes) discovered can then also be used in different combinations and context. This leads to an extension of the student's repertory.

Teacher: "Does <afternoon> consist of more than one element (component, part)? Can you see anything meaningful inside <afternoon>?"

After a while of working with this teacher (mentor), the student will know what the teacher wants to achieve, and will understand the question easily.

This case is comparatively easy, and the student identifies "after" immediately. That leaves "noon" as a component, which the student may or may not know on its own or in a different context.

The teacher now asks the student to demonstrate his mastery of the word "after" by writing a sentence.

Student: "After the football match we went to eat in an Indian restaurant."

This sentence is correct but comparatively trivial.

The teacher provides a more informative but longer example:

"Last year my grandmother received a new hip in hospital. Before the operation, walking was very painful, after the operation she could walk again like a young person."

By contrasting "after" with its opposite "before", its meaning is made more obvious.

Another sentence produced by the teacher was:

"What will happen to me after I die? Where was I before I was born?"

Having identified "after" as a component, the mentor might also introduce other words containing this component, e.g. afterwards, aftercare, afterlife, afterthought. The student can decide which of these words he wants to explore at home (on his own) by applying SENTAL and presenting them to his mentor during the next session.

Now the student turns to the second component of "afternoon". He has to demonstrate that he knows the meaning of "noon" and how to use it.

The student writes: "Hi Mary, can we have lunch in the noon?"

The teacher corrects the words "in the" and gives the student the phrases:

  • at noon,
  • at midnight,
  • at 8 o'clock.

They indicate that "noon" (unlike "morning" and "afternoon") is a point in time, a precise time, even though it can be used in an approximate way.

The most common expression containing "noon" is "at 12 o'clock noon", and the student will have the task, as homework, to write five sentences containing that expression.

In this expression, "noon" is used as a qualifyer to remove the ambiguity inherent in saying simply "at 12 o'clock", which might mean "at 12 o'clock noon" or "at 12 o'clock midnight". Colloquially (and avoiding the 24-hour clock), the following dialogue might occur:
"My plane is leaving at 12 o'clock." -
"At midnight?" -
"No, at 12 o'clock noon."

The case of "afternoon" was comparatively easy.

If the word had been "soliloquy" or "dangerous", encountered by a more advanced student, the components would have been more difficult to identify. In the case of such difficult words or elements, it is even more important that the student knows that this is not yet another English word to be learned by rote, but that it can be analysed, understood more profoundly, and related to other English words.

The student might have misspelt the ending of "dangerous", e.g. written wrongly "danjores", which is not only wrong spelling but betrays profound ignorance of the nature and structure of this word. Correcting this spelling mistake can be confined to letting the student practise just this particular word, but that would be of very limited usefulness.

The DYLL principle that words should be analysed (broken down into their components / morphemes) wherever convenient, would lead to reflection on other words derived from the Latin ending "-osus" = English "-ous".

The student might well have thought that these words are indivisible and have taken them as one unit. In that case, the mentor may have to give him the breakdown.

In the case of "dangerous", the student may have misspelt the last syllable of the word.

Considering and practising its components will lead the student from "danger" to learn words such as "to endanger".

It may lead him from the correct spelling of "dangerous" to learning and practising with SENTAL some of the following words:

adventurous (full of adventure),
amorous (full of love),
conspicuous (very easy to see),
disastrous (full of disaster, ruled by bad stars),
furious (full of fury),
monstrous (a spectacle to stare at),
obvious (easy to see),
odious (full of hate, to be hated),
perilous (full of peril, danger),
virtuous (full of virtue).

Analysing "soliloquy", will lead the student to "solitary", "soloist", "sole proprietor" etc on the one hand, and to "loquacious" etc on the other.

Step 4: Put WORD into practice

Step 3 has concluded a formal SENTAL exploration session. The student will now have a number of words, sentences, phrases and rules (i.e. grammar in practice) which he knows are correct and on which he can rely.

He also has a list of items (words etc) for further exploration and verification. He will do that work on his own ("at home") and bring the results to the next session with his mentor. They will then undergo the same procedure (Steps 1 to 3).

That leaves the correct items which he has today added to his repertory, i.e. at least the words "afternoon", "after" and "at 12 o'clock noon".

The student must remain aware of these items for some days or weeks and look out for opportunities of using them in real life. Real life comprises speech and writing.

In speech this might be conversations, banter, spoken exchanges by Skype, or dialogues which serve a specific purpose (e.g. to buy something, establish facts etc).

In writing, this may be his diary (reporting, in the foreign language, his daily activities), e-mails, letters, chats (MSN etc). In these applications, the student will have, we hope, more than one partner, i.e. not only the person who acted as his mentor during the formal SENTAL session, but, we hope, a great variety of other people.

The student can utilise all these people to great effect if he has mastered SENTAL.

Apart from communicating to his partner whatever he is keen on transmitting, the student will consciously look out for a way of feeding in his newly acquired knowledge. He might say that he is doing something "in the afternoon" not because he is really planning to do it then, or because it is important to say this, but merely in order to use this phrase in an unplanned context, to see whether his partner understands and accepts it without flinching, and, quite rightly, in order to show off with his linguistic prowess.

Showing off is very desirable in language learning. It either leads to mistakes, in which case they can be corrected through SENTAL methods.

Or it leads to success, perhaps even pleasant surprise and praise from the language partner, in which case this will motivate the student to learn more in order to receive more such praise.

Often chats (by MSN) may be in two languages alternating (that of the learner and that of the mentor), say 15 minutes in one language, followed by 15 minutes in the other.

A native speaker of English learning Farsi (beginner) and chatting with a native speaker of Farsi learning English (intermediate level) might conduct much of their chat in English, with which most information can be communicated in this combination.

The learner of Farsi, however, after having been through a SENTAL session, will interrupt the to and fro in English by bringing in the newly acquired Farsi phrases whenever he sees an opportunity. He will bring in these phrases in order to practise and test them, not because they are of vital importance for what he wants to communicate. This code switching is as it should be.

This is a significant feature of various applications of DYLL. Traditionally the teacher (or textbook author) decides in advance what the student may want to communicate and then finds the linguistic means to express this, even though it may sometimes lead to avoidable linguistic complications.

In DYLL, and especially its feature known as the "exploratory" approach, the student will first learn what is linguistically easy and what fits in well with what he already knows ("domino effect"), like in our example: "before", "after", which can be easily pegged to "afternoon". Then he will ask "What can I do with what I have learnt".

This provides a better progression from easy (from the grammatical and lexical point of view) to increasingly difficult, than the traditional approach, which starts out with the students' needs (What does he want to communicate) and then giving him the linguistic items required for that purpose, even though they are sometimes grammatically unnecessarily difficult and complicated at that stage.

Step 5: Teach the method to others

The procedure described in this article will be useful to teachers (mentors) and students alike. They are more important to students because students are the ones who suffer if they do not succeed in their studies.

I have used SENTAL for many decades either acting as a student (of many languages) or acting as a teacher. In the distant past, SENTAL sessions would be face to face, the student and the teacher at a table and a piece of paper between them.

In recent years, I have become ever more closely involved with people trying to learn languages by pen friendships and chats (MSN) on the Internet. On the Internet many students do not make the progress which they could make. They concentrate on what they have to communicate, bits can successfully be done wid da mos atroshas gramar n spelin, innit (= which can successfully be done with the most atrocious grammar and spelling, isn't it?).

It often is fun, but the students' language does not improve significantly, i.e. they will never reach a level where they could get a job in a respectable English company and write letters and reports for the company which are so good and so correct that the company does not have to be ashamed of them. This is one way of describing mastery of the language, especially for students who are, for example, learning English in order to get a visa to, and a job in, an English-speaking country.

If the student indulges in Internet slang because obviously "it works", the mentor has no motivation to pick up mistakes. If every other word is a mistake, by traditional English standards, it is too difficult for the mentor to see which words look wrong because they are Internet slang, and which look wrong because the student has ignored basic grammar.

The same goes for other languages.

As a student, I have benefitted from SENTAL particularly because the method enabled me to make what I learnt relevant to my personal interests and circumstances of life. They can be readily explored by writing a diary (primitive or sophisticated, as skills permit) in the language being learnt.

In a diary, everything can be practised (at leisure and accurately) because it is in writing and there is no time constraint, as there is in speech. Whatever is contained, and made correct, in a diary can easily be converted into speech and dialague in purposeful situations. Diary writing, combined with SENTAL, is an ideal precursor for live conversations.

People who are diffident in speech often will progress faster to becoming confident speakers if they first become competent writers, using SENTAL.

One sequence would be:
1 Sentences and phrases (as described above)
2 Diary writing
3 Conversation

It is incorrect to claim categorically, as many people (students and traditionally trained teachers) do, that the best way to gain confidence and accuracy in speech is by having live conversations. This sounds self-evident, but it isn't true.

It may be true in cases where student and teachers do not know the SENTAL techniques. But once these techniques are known, they often provide an excellent precursor for speech and conversation.

SENTAL applied to speech

There is an inherent conflict between two objectives of language learners:

  1. The need to be understood by the other party
  2. The need to write (or speak) standard English (etc) correctly

For reasonably simple information, communication can be successful without accuracy, as can be seen daily in chatrooms, in Facebook, etc. Anybody who wanted to press for correctness there would simply be spoiling the fun and obstruct communication by slowing it down.

For subtle exchanges, e.g. hypothetical sentences

("If my gran had had wheels and a beard when she was born, she could have grown up to be a lorry, but since she was born with two legs and clean-shaven, she did become my gran."),

both partners must have a high degree of correctness, grammatically, and they must know the subtle differences between words. The same applies to subtle discussions on philosophical or artistic matters, or emotions.

Correctness and great grammatical skill is then important.

But during the earlier learning stages, insistence on correctness will destroy communication. Applying SENTAL (or picking up each language mistake during a chat) will interrupt the flow of thought, and annoy the person who is trying to make a point. The sender of the incorrect message will think that his partner is only interested in accuracy rather than in what he wants him to understand.

The two objectives are at odds with each other.

However, we can overcome this dilemma?

Suitable sound recording devices (digital) and mp3 players are now cheap. Student and mentor in a live situation (face to face) can record part of their conversation, say 15 minutes, without interrupting when a mistake occurs. They interrupt only if there is something which student or mentor does not understand and which requires explanation or translation. Even that explanation or translation will be recorded, i.e. the recorder (recording device) will not be stopped for 15 minutes.

There is no point in recording more than 15 minutes because during that time so many mistakes will have been made that it takes a long time to analyse and treat them all.

Now student and mentor play back this recording. It is necessary to plug a cheap speaker (loudspeaker) into the recorder to make sure both student and mentor can hear the recording.

The mentor controls the recorder. When he hears a mistake, he writes down the wrong expression. Now the two partners are in the same situation in which they were when their work was based on a written input (chat, email, composition, diary entry etc).

The procedure described above for written texts can now be applied.

The same technique can be used to run an MSN chat without interruption. Set the options (preferences) of the MSN device so that every chat is logged (recorded, saved) in its entirety.

Then display the log in a word processor or text editor, e.g. Word, Notepad, etc. Student and mentor now look at this log, the mentor points out all mistakes worth correcting, and the standard SENTAL procedure is used, as above. Minor mistakes, and stylistic mistakes, had better be overlooked as long as there are big mistakes to be tackled.

Problems of language practice on the Internet

I am talking here not so much about organised language lessons by qualified and paid teachers (which are offered by some websites), but about informal language exchange arrangements among friends, e.g. an English speaker offering to teach English to a German speaker and vice versa.

In this case the partners switch roles from time to time, say every 15 minutes. Sometimes the German speaker is mentor, and sometimes he is student. The SENTAL procedure can then be used as described, provided one of the two partners knows the procedure and wants to use it.

The opportunities open through such exchanges are enormous because there are so many language learners with so many different languages in the world, resulting in innumerable combinations, most of which can be satisfied. These arrangements often start with great excitement, almost like one's first trip to a foreign country, but in my experience, having spoken to many such language learners, they often end in disappointment.

The problems are as follows:


The two partners have no idea about the principles of language learning and language teaching. They offer to teach each other their native languages but have no idea of how to do so. They think they know, but they don't. If they are beginners, they will pass on to each other lists of common words, numbers, swear words if required, a few phrases. They will be unable to give reasonable explanations of grammar. They know nothing about memory techniques. Strangely, it often does not occur to these learners that the first thing to do is to acquire at least a textbook (with recording) of the language.

Naivity also shows when a beginning learner declares that he wants to learn two, three or more languages, as if he did not have enough work when trying to learn just one language and taking several years of serious study to do it.

In case of intermediate learners who want to keep their language skills up to scratch, it may be feasible to practise several languages with several mentors. In this case, the objective is not progress (larger repertory, fewer mistakes) but to prevent forgetting. If progress (rather than merely maintenance) is required, then even intermediate learners have enough to do while concentrating on one language, using, for example, SENTAL.


The partners do not hit it off. One of them is after socialising rather than language learning, and socialising only works when both have enough in common.

Sometimes the boys, when finding a female partner, are not after language learning but after cybersex and make that unmistakeably clear, thus disappointing the more studious girls.

The partners run out of topics of conversation. After having established the plain facts about family, friends, hobbies, travel experiences, etc, they lose interest in each other.


The partners believe that chatting alone will improve their language skill and that no particular learning and teaching techniques are necessary. This is true only to a very limited extent.

If no good methods (like those of DYLL) are used, progress is haphazard and excruciatingly slow. The learner does not progress to the best of his ability. Since maximal efficiency for motivated students is the prime objective of DYLL, we declare unnecessarily slow progress to be "no progress". There is no point in rejoicing about learning the occasional new word, when a learner could, like I have done on occasion while testing the DYLL techniques and its variants, could learn (and remember long-term) up to 100 new words per day.

In brief, chatting alone does not improve language skills. A well tested method is required.


I have the impression that many intermediate learners on the Internet do not read in the language they are learning.

Beginners and intermediate learners should, of course, have a textbook, and that's all they need to keep them busy and to expand their knowledge of the language.

I have already criticised the fact that there are some beginning learners who think they can learn from their chat friends without using a textbook.

Similarly I have found "chat friends" on the web who set themselves up as "teachers" (sometimes even asking for money) without recommending a textbook to their students. This is simply naive arrogance on the part of the self-declared teachers.

But I have also found intermediate to advanced students who do not read for entertainment (say, novels, short stories and magazines). They rely for their input (for picking up new words, phrases, expressions and grammatical structures) on their chat friends. As a result their progress will be severely limited. They will remain as uneducated as their chat friends are likely to be, and they wouldn't even know it.

They will not learn to distinguish between formal language, standard language, colloquial language and slang, to say nothing of the newly developed texting slang (Internet slang), especially in English, which is not standard English and will not enable them to get a job in an English-speaking institution.

By contrast, if the student had a piece of good fiction, reading a few pages every day, something like, for example, Somerset Maugham's story "Rain", or the like (millions of such books are available in most languages, and if not, then there will at least be a newspaper in the very rare languages), then that fiction would take the place of the earlier textbook, and the student would find every day a few words etc which are new to him, and which he could incorporate into his repertory by using SENTAL, or the more elementary DYLL procedures for vocabulary learning.

Some of these problems can be overcome if both partners know SENTAL, as described in this article and in the more elaborate description of SENTAL (xxx see link here).

How to teach SENTAL to others

As in all parts of DYLL, the student rather than the mentor is in control. The student is the main beneficiary, and he is therefore most motivated. He can easily ensure that SENTAL is used, even if the mentor does not know SENTAL.

The student does not have to wait for the mentor to point out errors, to give explanations, etc. He can take the initiative by asking the mentor the following kinds of questions.

  1. Was that correct? Is that correct?
  2. What does this word mean? Please give me a sentence containing that word.
  3. Does it consist of several parts?
  4. (The student now produces sample sentences to test his understanding of the word and how it can be used): "Look at this sentence. Is that correct?"
  5. Why is this wrong?
  6. Please give me an example containing this word, this phrase, etc.

The mentor will soon get used to the approach this student is taking. We call him an active student, rather than a passive student, as so many students are, especially in classes.

Passive students assume that the teacher has to teach them the language. Active students know that nobody can teach them a language, but that they have to learn the language from the teacher, that they have to draw the knowledge out of the teacher, that the teacher can only HELP them in their learning efforts. Good students are leeches.They extract the last bit of knowledge from their teachers. Teachers love them, and long may they thrive.

If the mentor gets curious about the student's approach, the student can send the teacher the link to this article, and to the basic SENTAL article. The mentor will become more efficient and co-operative if he understands why all this is happening.

The mentor will, of course, then also become more efficient in his own language LEARNING. We assume that, in a language exchange, student and mentor switch roles, they are learning each other's language. The mentor will become a better teacher, because he can then use this method with other students who do not yet know SENTAL.

Thus the method can spread from student to teacher and from teacher to student.

Some of the other problems with Internet language exchange can also be solved or ameliorated through SENTAL.

If the student is determined to learn, and tries apply SENTAL, it is impossible to run out of topics of conversation. The nature of the personal relationship is less important when both parties know what they have to do from the linguistic point of view. Even the boys who have nothing on their brain but cybersex might be distracted if their female partner keeps firing language questions at them, which, without SENTAL, she is unable to do.

Benefits of SENTAL

  1. Words etc can be gradually fed into the student's language repertory, as fast or as slow as required.
  2. Explanations will be as thorough or as fast as he requires it. This is a very individualised approach.
  3. The subject matter of the sample sentences, or the diary paragraphs which he writes, are closely matched to his interests and experience. By contrast, textbook dialogues might appear boring or irrelevant to the student.
  4. The student will become very conscious of what he knows and what he does not know. If required, he can reduce his language to those features of which he knows that he will never get them wrong, and therefore write faultlessly. This increases his confidence.
  5. There is no stress during the SENTAL exercises because the student can take as much time as he wants. He can use dictionaries and other reference books.
  6. By contrast, in speech, there is enormous stress because of the speed required.

    Mistakes in speech can not normally be corrected without destroying the speech. The student therefore has, in speech, only negative experiences, experiences of his own failure and incompetence. This leads to anxiety and to students who are afraid of speaking. They then wrongly insist on more speaking practice, and reject writing practice.

    What they need is more writing practice (with SENTAL) to improve their accuracy, the size of their repertoire, their writing speed, their thinking speed and their confidence. Once their writing speed has been increased to its top level, they are ready to practise speaking about the same subjects.

The importance of communication skills

There are websites which promote partner exchanges for language learners. The partnerships start with great enthusiasm but sometimes do not work and peter out.

SENTAL is a labour-intensive approach, not for the student but for the teacher because usually many mistakes have to be corrected and they and the sample sentences lead to further mistakes and avenues to explore. If all mistakes are to be covered, and if an eager student is to be given as much "information" as he can absorb, he will usually need more than one mentor.

Some of the suggestions made above will result in partnerships continuing longer and new partnerships working better when they are put clearly on a language learning basis.

What language learners have to keep in mind, but usually do not know, is that knowledge of vocabulary and grammar is not sufficient for a successful relationship. The partners must also have good communication skills (e.g. of the sort taught in

  • Dale Carnegie's "How to win friends and influence people" (first published in 1937, still true, still in print and still available new or second-hand)
  • or in Will Kintish's seminars on networking skills (The site does not only advertise Kintish's seminars, but also at least one book, useful DVDs, and a fair amount of free on-line advice. All this is, of course, intended for speakers of English, but very useful for anyone capable of undertanding it, in whatever country or culture.)
  • or in various books on small talk: How to start a conversation with a stranger and how to keep it going, and how to avoid offence. (Search Amazon for "small talk").

Language learners tend to be so occupied with language skills (and their lack of them) that they are not aware of the importance of communication skills, being friendly towards the partner, avoiding curtness and offensive remarks, transmitting a sufficient proportion of praise and sympathy, avoiding harsh criticism, listening, asking questions instead of talking, asking the right kind of question (open questions, rather than yes/no questions), etc. Some radio interviewers have these skills in abundance (e.g. on the BBC's "Desert Island Disks", "On the Ropes" and similar programmes), and each language student can learn from such interviewers, in his own country and in his own language.

All of these are skills which even native speakers often lack in their own language.

Language learners who have these skills (communication skills) in their own language and apply them to the foreign language will do better in attracting mentors and inducing people they meet on the Internet, especially in Facebook with its enormous resources, to becoming their mentors.

Facebook friends tend to be Friends in name only, passive friends, potential friends. Having them as Facebook friends often does not mean that you develop a relationship with them, but they are merely scalps or trophies to be collected and counted, sometimes in a competitive way.

This, however, does not mean that Facebook friends are useless.

The main difference between a Facebook friend of mine and someone who is not among my Facebook friends, is that I can, if I wish, send a message or email to my Facebook friend and thus initiate a conversation and a relationship.

It then depends on luck (i.e. have I picked a suitable person) and my skill whether I can make the other person sufficiently interested in me to continue the relationship and eventually to become a mentor.

Arousing the other person's interest or showing the other person that I am interested in him and that I am able to be a good friend to him, and a good listener, is part of the communication skills that I must have (or acquire) to start with.

  • How many mentors I can find and keep depends on my communication skills.
  • How much I learn from these mentors depends on how much time I invest and how persistently I use SENTAL and the other DYLL procedures.

Teachers tell you what to learn, IDYLL shows you how to learn it