Want to Learn a Language on Your Next Trip? Avoid These Six Mistakes. | Scott H Young - Deepstash

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Want to Learn a Language on Your Next Trip? Avoid These Six Mistakes. | Scott H Young

https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2018/11/20/language-learning-mistakes/

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Want to Learn a Language on Your Next Trip? Avoid These Six Mistakes. | Scott H Young

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Learning By Immersion

Immersion is more effective and faster for learning a language than sitting in a class.

However, most people make some key mistakes when trying to learn a language while travelling.

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Creating a Native Language Bubble

Creating a Native Language Bubble

When you land in a country, you usually don't feel confident speaking, so you might decide to start in your native language until you get your bearings.

But you might meet peers and other people speaking in your native language, and if this bubble sticks, you can end up living in a country for decades without ever learning the local language.

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Mastering Basic Phrases at Home First

To learn the basics, find a tool that fulfils the two basic requirements for memorizing: repetition and recall.

  • You need to practice saying something more than once to master it, and then it is best to space those times out over days or weeks.
  • Recalling phrases is less common, but it is vital. Find phrases, and practice saying it correctly.

Starting phrases include:

  • I would like...?
  • Where is ...?
  • How do you say ...?
  • What is that?
  • What is your name?
  • Where are you from?
  • What do you do for work?

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Making Native-Language Friends

Socialising is essential for immersion.

In European countries, a younger person can go to meetups through meetup.com. In Asia, it is best to hire a couple of private tutors around your age and tell them you're looking to make friends to learn the language. They will usually facilitate introductions.

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Getting a Tutor

A tutor is a dedicated person who can answer questions, explain how the language works and be an opportunity to practice speaking while you're still trying to make friends.

  • Native people don't really have a high understanding of how their language works. They cannot explain the nuances of grammar or vocabulary. Professional teachers get this instruction and can often help.
  • If costs are too high, you can also settle for a dedicated language partner such as a fellow learner or native speaker.

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Learning Phonology Properly

A strategic advantage is to work on pronunciation, as you want to convince people to speak with you in the language, instead of "helping you out" by speaking in your native tongue.

A simple way is to look at diagrams of tongue positions so you can mimic them when you're trying to speak. The goal is understandability so that native speakers don't struggle to understand the phrases you already know.

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Moving Around Too Much

If you want to learn a particular language, pick a place and stay put for a while. Then plan some travel after you've reached a moderate level of fluency.

Also, attempt to stop speaking your own language entirely during your trip. It will help avoid the temptation to fall into the bubble and will make practising much easier.

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If you cannot find a learning buddy ( a partner that is willing to commit to only speaking in a foreign language with you), hire a tutor.

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Learning a New Language: Preparation Time

  • Don't wait too long before you start practicing. Most people find it uncomfortable to speak a language poorly and avoid it. Don't think you will wait until you're "ready".
  • Going from zero to 100% will require some preparation. 25 - 50 hours are usually enough for a European language, 100 hours for harder Asian languages.

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  • Continuing brain development: Changes in the brain that continue during the late teens and early 20s may make learning harder.

Learning a new language

There are many examples of people who pick up a language later in life. Our ability to learn new vocabulary appears to remain constant, but most of us will not be able to master grammar like a native speaker.

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How to Explore a New Topic Efficiently

When learning any new topic efficiently, we need to learn the most useful, basic and broadly applicable ideas first.

After that, we can move onto the obscure, advanced or specialized.

Academic Research: Follow the Citations

The learning space for an academic subject is composed of papers, books, and courses, linked via citations.

  • Start with a course or textbook. It will provide an easy entry-point.
  • For more specific topics, use literature reviews and meta-analyses, as they combine different studies.
  • Follow citation trails, focusing on papers that surface repeatedly.