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Learning a language - 10 things you need to know

Focus on substance

When signing up to a particular method or approach, think about the substance behind the style or technology. “Ultimately,” Aaron Ralby says, “the learning takes place inside you rather that outside, regardless of whether it’s a computer or book or a teacher in front of you.

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Learning a language - 10 things you need to know

Learning a language - 10 things you need to know

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/oct/30/learning-another-language-ten-tips

theguardian.com

10

Key Ideas

Make realistic, specific goals

Language learning is best when broken down into manageable goals that are achievable over a few months.” -- Donavan Whyte

Aiming to be fluent is not necessarily the best idea. “Why not set yourself a target of being able to read a newspaper article in the target language without having to look up any words in the dictionary?” -- Phil McGowan.

Remind yourself why you are learning

“Motivation is usually the first thing to go, especially among students who are teaching themselves.” To keep the momentum going he suggests writing down 10 reasons you are learning a language and sticking it to the front of the file you are using.

Focus on substance

When signing up to a particular method or approach, think about the substance behind the style or technology. “Ultimately,” Aaron Ralby says, “the learning takes place inside you rather that outside, regardless of whether it’s a computer or book or a teacher in front of you.

Read for pleasure

Alex Rawlings explains that reading for pleasure “exposes you to all sorts of vocabulary that you won’t find in day-to-day life, and normalises otherwise baffling and complicated grammatical structures. The first book you ever finish in a foreign languages is a monumental achievement that you’ll remember for a long time.”

Learn vocabulary in context

Association is key to retaining new words: A great way to build vocabulary is to make sure the lists you’re learning come from situations or texts that you have experienced yourself, so that the content is always relevant and connects to background experience.

Ignore the myths: age is just a number

Ralby argues “a key language myth is that it’s harder as an adult”. 

Adults and children may learn in different ways but that shouldn’t deter you from committing to learning another language. “Languages are simultaneously organic and systematic. As children we learn languages organically and instinctively; as adults we can learn them systematically.”

Revision of your native language

You can’t make good progress in a second language until you understand your own. 

“I think understanding your native language and just generally how language works is so essential before you launch yourself at a bunch of foreign phrases.” - Kerstin Hammes

Translation is important

It is typical to feel a slowing down in progress once you have reached a certain level of proficiency.

 “Translation is such an important exercise for helping you get over a certain plateau that you will reach as a language learner ... Translation exercises don’t allow you to paraphrase and force the learner on to the next level.” - Rebecca Braun 

Beware of fluency

Language learning is more that just fluency. Language learning never stops because it’s culture learning, personal growth and endless improvement. 

Go to where the language is spoken

Travel and living abroad can complement learning in the classroom.

The books and verb charts may be the easiest way to ensure you expose yourself to the language at home, but the people and the culture will far outclass them once you get to the country where your language is spoken.

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A will to start and self-confidence is necessary as is having the courage to speak, and not being afraid of making mistakes. The key is to immerse yourself and put your whole being to the task.

Total immersion necessitates activities like listening to the radio station of the language you are learning, reading and speaking to people.

Total Immersion

It is a good idea to master the basic skills first and focus on the grammar later, while asking for feedback and correcting yourself, learning on-the-fly.

Invest not only your head but your heart in the learning process. Practice makes perfect.

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Research shows that children are proficient at learning a second language up until the age of 18, roughly ten years later than earlier estimates. It also shows that it is best to start another lang...

The decline in language learning

There are three possible reasons why the ability to learn a language decreases at 18.

  • Social changes: At 18, late teens typically graduate high school and may no longer have the time, opportunity or learning environment to study a second language.
  • Interference: The rules of a first language may interfere with the ability to learn a second language.
  • 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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First words to learn

In English, just 300 words make up 65% of all written material. We use those words a lot, and that’s the case in every other language as well.

Use flash cards of the mo...

Learn cognates

Cognates are “true friends” of words you recognize from your native language that mean the same thing in another language.

For instance:

  •  Words like Action, nation, precipitation, solution, frustration, and thousands of other -tion words are spelled exactly the same in French, and you can quickly get used to the different pronunciation. Change that -tion to a -ción and you have the same words in Spanish. Italian is -zione and Portuguese is -ção.
  • Many languages also have words that share a common (Greek/Latin or other) root.
  • Even languages as different as Japanese can have heaps of very familiar vocabulary. 
Interact in your language daily
  • To hear the language consistently spoken, you can check out TuneIn.com for a vast selection of live-streamed radio from your country of choice. 
  • To watch the language consistently, see what’s trending on Youtube in that country right now. 
  • To read the language consistently, you can find cool blogs and other popular sites on Alexa’s ranking of top sites per country.

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Listen

The more you expose yourself to the new language, the sooner you will become familiar with its sounds and structures. Familiarity, in turn, will speed understanding.

Copy

Repeating the sounds (out loud or in your head) will give you a feel for the language. Memorize not just words, but sentences and even songs to get the rhythm and intonation of the language. 

Read

Read words, sentences, children’s books, newspaper articles. Read as far and near as you can, whether out loud to an audience or quietly to yourself. 

Seeing the language in print helps you understand word structures. It also anchors the new sounds, and helps them get imprinted in your mind.

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The Best Strategy
  • Go to a country that speaks the language.
  • Get a phrasebook and learn a few basic expressions.
  • Commit to only speaking in that language from Day One.
  • Use a ...
  • If You Can’t Travel to Learn

    Pick a friend who also wants to learn the language. Agree to talk in the target language at least once per day or whenever you do talk.

    The friend does not have to be a native speaker. Whenever you are stuck, use a dictionary or Google translate. But, 10% of your time should be speaking with an advanced or native speaker.

    You Can’t Find a Partner

    If you cannot find someone willing to commit to only speaking that language, hire a tutor.

    You can also opt for language exchange with people who want to learn your language.

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    One of the reasons for forgetting a language is the trauma associated with speaking a particular language: The mind recalls the bad experiences while the language is heard or spoken.

    The Switch Mechanism

    Once a person is able to speak two or more languages, the mind has to create a mechanism to switch between those seamlessly.

    Switching a language is not like forgetting, but if there is too much back and forth, the competition starts between the two languages.

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    Learning how to learn

    Learning how to learn is a meta-skill. It is a critical skill for everyone who needs to pick up and master new concepts frequently.

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    Learning skills

    Learning how to learn is critical for everyone. Most of us have to deal with a changing world and to learn how to manage tons of new information.

    However, most of our learning methods are outdated and far from optimal. It may even be giving us an illusion of learning, like re-reading and highlighting that don't provide proper feedback to show what you haven't learned.

    Focused and Diffuse Mode

    Focused and diffuse modes provide two models for how we develop, elaborate, deepen and broaden connections. Both methods are important.

    • The focused mode of learning is about bringing related concepts together into a unit, called a chunk. 
    • The diffuse mode operates through a wider net of connecting general ideas across different fields. We use this diffuse mode while we sleep, exercise or daydream.

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    Translation And Interpretation
    Translation And Interpretation

    They require an ability to be able to understand two or more languages and accurately express the content and information in the other language.

    Translations need not be binary, but sho...

    Source Language and Target Language
    • Source Language: is the original message or content
    • Target Language: is the resulting outcome after the translation or the interpretation.

    Translation and interpretation work well if it is the native language of the translators and it is essential to recognize the cultures of both the source and target languages, in order to fully adopt the content.

    The Difference between Translation and Interpretation

    While both translation and interpretation have the same purpose: making the information or content accessible in another language, there is one major difference.

    Translation is done in a written format, while interpretation is oral. Translators, therefore, are excellent writers, while interpreters have great communication skills.

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    Know your motivation

    If you don’t have a good reason to learn a language, you are less likely to stay motivated over the long-run.

    Once you’ve decided on a language, it’s crucial to commit.

    Find a partner

    Finding some kind of partner on your language adventure will push both of you to always try just a little bit harder and stay with it.

    It’s a really great way of actually going about it. You have someone with whom you can speak, and that’s the idea behind learning a new language.

    Talk to yourself

    When you have no one else to speak to, there’s nothing wrong with talking to yourself in a foreign language.

    This can keep new words and phrases fresh in your mind. It also helps build up your confidence for the next time you speak with someone.

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    The concept of the 5 love languages

    It refers to the idea that we all give and receive love differently. The five languages are:

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    Identifying a child’s love language
    • It will be helpful for finding little ways to show them extra affection in a personalized way.
    • It’s also helpful to know that whatever love language they speak is also the language they are most likely to feel hurt by.
    • Even if your child scores high in one or two languages, that doesn’t mean you should ditch the other languages completely.