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The Hard, But Effective Way to Learn a New Language | Scott H Young

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 dictionary to translate when you get stuck.
  • Hire a local tutor.
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    The Hard, But Effective Way to Learn a New Language | Scott H Young

    The Hard, But Effective Way to Learn a New Language | Scott H Young

    https://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2016/11/29/learn-languages/

    scotthyoung.com

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    Key Ideas

    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 dictionary to translate when you get stuck.
  • Hire a local tutor.
  • 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.

    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. About 25 - 50 hours are enough for a European language, 100 hours for harder Asian languages.

    Prior preparation is not essential if you're traveling to the country and going 100% from Day 1.

    Kind of Preparation

    If you want to do some practice before traveling to a country for a 100% immersion, do about 50% conversation practice and 50% with some beginner learning resource.

    The non-speaking parts of learning are to supplement the conversation practice, not to be in place of it.

    Speaking the Language With Zero Ability

    Open Google translate, type what you want to say, translate to the language you want to speak, try saying it to the other person.

    If they understand you and say something you don't understand, ask them to write it down and use Google to translate it.

    Don't worry if It feels very awkward at first.

    Speak the Language

    This strategy of learning a new language only works if you speak in the language. If you are only able to spend 50% of your learning time in conversations, invest your time on the important aspects of the language that you can't focus on enough. It will be different for each language.

    For instance, in Spanish, the conjugation system can be a bit overwhelming. Grammar exercise books might be useful. In Chinese, grammar is not so much the issue as pronunciation. 

    'I Don’t Want to Speak Yet'

    Although it is scary and hard, immersive practice is by far the most effective. When the person you're speaking with sees that you don't understand, they will automatically try to simplify what they communicate.

    If you don't want to speak yet, you can also try reading or watching movies, until you have a high listening comprehension.

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    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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