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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Problem Solving

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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?
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.

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.

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.

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.

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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Language And The Way We Think

Language is a literal and linguistic tool that many believe is a fundamental basis of the way we think. Some have hypothesized (like the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis) that many languages do not have room for certain thought patterns, and are able to alter our thoughts.

The underlying logic is just because there is no word in a certain language to express something, people who speak the language will not be able to think it, and if they learn a different language, new words and phrases are learned, leading to new ways of thinking.

  • The key to memorizing a speech is to memorize it hierarchically. You begin with the broad chunks, moving to specific paragraphs, phrases, up until the intonation and your timing with the words.
  • When starting with the chunks you simply write out the main points of the speech then cover them up and recall them.
  • Moving up to the small points you can expand your bullets to represent each idea with one or two key words and quiz yourself until you have it memorized.
Learning with flashcards

Flashcards can be a powerful learning tool, but they can also be a waste of time.

  • They are powerful because retrieval and spacing are key to memory. If you have a lot of information to memorise, flashcards will help you the best.
  • But flashcards can also waste your time. You may memorise something you don't need, or fail to memorise the important things. But most of all, flashcards can be a way to avoid doing the real thing.

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