Szegedi Anita Brigitta Learn and understand Learn and understand are two different kinds of words, but their meaning can be similar. Thinking that the dictionary may help us to understand the meaning of these two words, we have to realize that a closer examination is needed. The definition of the word “learn” given by the dictionary is: “to gain knowledge of a subject or skill, by experience, by studying it or by being taught”. The word “understand” is defined: “to know the meaning of what someone is telling you, or the language, that they speak”.
The keywords and some examples may help to show the differences. The most common example is the foreign language. You may say: “I have been learning English for 10 years”. You have a basic knowledge, but before 10 years you know nothing about the English language. If you say: “I understood English quite well. ” means that you already have the knowledge and it does not matter that you are still studying or not. Another example is to gain knowledge of a skill: “I learned to read at school. and using that skill “I understood what is written on the blackboard”. First we are taught the characters and then we develop this skill and use it in the future. This can happen oppositely. As an example: “I understood the process of solving that Math problem. ” and “I learned to do that Math problem”. After understanding something we can use and learn that technique. When we learn something we gain a skill and this skill we can use it whenever we want. Something can be learnt by heart in order not to forget, like “I had to learn this poem by heart”.
When we understand something we have to make a process in order to find out the meaning of what we are interested in. Make yourself understood means make what you say clear to other people especially speaking a foreign language, like “I’m not very good at German, but I can make myself understood”. These examples may show the differences between these two words. All in all, it is a little difference, but we should pay attention to them. Both of them bring something new in your life, but the difference is how they do this.