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How to learn a language
How to learn a language

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3.1 Linguistic

This is what is most familiar to aspiring language learners – the language itself. You need to master the various elements of that language, from the words it uses, to the order you put them in.

Activity 2 Matching the linguistic elements

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Look at the various linguistic elements of a language. Match each one to its definition.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. Grammar

  2. Pronunciation

  3. Syntax

  4. Vocabulary

  5. Reading

  6. Listening

  7. Speaking

  8. Writing

  • a.The process of decoding symbols (such as letters) to derive meaning.

  • b.The set of rules, principles and processes that govern the structure of sentences in a particular language, specifically word order. 

  • c.The ability to utter words or articulate sounds with the voice in order to communicate.

  • d.The process of expressing or communicating something by representing spoken language through the inscription or recording of signs and symbols, traditionally on paper on another such support.

  • e.The ability to pay attention to and effectively interpret what is being said, sung, played etc.

  • f.The set of structural rules governing a language.

  • g.The set of words you know in a particular language.

  • h.The way a word or a language is spoken.

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = f
  • 2 = h
  • 3 = b
  • 4 = g
  • 5 = a
  • 6 = e
  • 7 = c
  • 8 = d


Learning a language means learning the elements of that language. In the following weeks, you will look in particular at learning vocabulary and at the four language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, which you will focus on in Weeks 4–7.

Laura says:

I think it is very common as a learner to focus too much on certain elements at the expense of others, simply because they are easier and more in your comfort zone. I think a balanced approach is key, and I have found that the different language elements are interdependent, so, for instance, a good grasp of pronunciation can also aid listening comprehension and so on.