First off, I am into New Year’s Resolutions. I believe that even if you try and burn out, it’s excitement, learning and growth that you otherwise would not have had. This year, I’m tackling something that has been hammering at me my entire life, language learning. After failing at Spanish (and by this, I mean trying and forgetting), I came to a conclusion that, “I just not good at this!” – Which, as a Coach and someone that believes that with time, anything is possible… therefore, it’s a statement that I regret saying to myself.
Besides being a promise to myself…a big motivation was listening to a guy named Tim Ferriss, a #LifeHack guru. After listening to his TedTalk, podcast and reading his blog (and this amazing clip, Learning Language Fast) – I was both hooked and better yet, convinced that I (perhaps) didn’t really fail at all, but was just using the wrong method. Here are the Top 10 tips I’ve learned.
LANGUAGE LEARNING TIPS
- Specify : Specify what you’d like to get good at – Reading in a language and SPEAKING are two separate things. While there is cross-over, ultimately we want to TALK and communicate in someone. Therefore the focus should be on what you want to accomplish – at least predominately.
- Speak : In order to SPEAK, you have to speak. This is perhaps the hardest thing, because most (like me) don’t want to sound or look like a fool. It is proven that the most successful language learners are those individuals that are not afraid to make mistakes. We must speak (and fail at speaking). Making mistakes and learning from them will help solidify the proper use for you. You set yourself up for failure by not speaking.
- Find a Method : Tim Ferriss has his own method whereby he has 12 translated sentences that he memorizes, reads and rehearses that help him to understand the sentence structure and grammar of a new language. For example, in Spanish he will have: (1) The apple is red. La manzana es roja. (2) It is John’s apple. Es la manzana de John… He gave the apple to her, and so on.
- Find a Method 2 : Tim also uses something that he calls a “Kickstart Method” that helps with verb and tense. For example (again, in Spanish) he will have: (1) I must eat. Tengo que comer. (2) I want to eat. Quiero comer. (3) I’m going to eat tomorrow. Voy a comer mañana. (4) I can’t eat. No puedo comer.
- Memorize & Internalize : There are only 400-500 words that people use with any consistency. If you are going to memorize anything, learn the most common 100 words of the new language – nothing more. Once you have not only memorized, but gotten fluent in these 100, go for the next 100 common words! After this, concentrate more on using them in conversation. In the beginning (especially), try not to memorize words you’ll likely never use.
- Use Cognates : In any language, there are hundreds-to-thousands of words that sound similar to their English counterpart. In Spanish, there are over a thousand words that you know already without even starting. For example: Possible = posible, acceptable = aceptable, information = información… find these and use them!
- Frequency is Best : The best learners spend an average of 30 minutes, at least 5 days a week on learning a language. These consistent, smaller chunks will help to not overwhelm you in this big endeavor.
- Find a Program : Taking classes can be expensive, but there are plenty of free resources out there. I actually got started with the Michel Thomas Method on YouTube with 12 free, foundational lessons. This methodology was the best way for me (although I eventually bought the course!). But if you want to keep with the free route, there is DuoLingo and other apps that you can download or free podcasts (like RadioLingua) that you can listen to in order to gain some traction in the language.
- Watch Movies : I’m a huge film nut, so this a task that never feels like a chore. Many dvds or blu-rays that come out these days have several language or subtitled options (especially with the highly-spoken languages like: French, Spanish or German). My suggestion is to at least start off reading the subtitles first, at least until you know enough vocabulary and/or have developed an ear for the language. Then challenge yourself with hearing and trying to understand.
- Involve Your Partner : This is where I have another advantage. My wife is of Puerto Rican decent and has grown up speaking and understanding Spanish. While she does not consider herself fluent, she can certainly help me along and encourage me. While working together, I can achieve a foothold in the language (at the very least) and I can help her gain fluency. It’s a win-win. If you have a friend or loved one who has an interest in learning the language together, it is a great way of staying motivated, challenging each other, and of course, practicing the art of communicating in that language. If you don’t have a friend that wants to do this, many language courses have native speakers that you can Instant Message or Skype with. You can also use social media like Facebook or Instagram to strike up a friendship with someone that speaks the desired language. Or do all the above!
2015 was the year we started our YouTube Channel, OutFoxxed – fun and educational videos teaching women’s self-defense. 2016 will be a year of tremendous growth. I can feel it! If you have yet to see any of our videos, please visit this link! (click here).
Here is our introductory video:
Please be sure to like and SUBSCRIBE! If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends and loved ones. YOU are what’s going to help us succeed in our quest. Thank you!
I plan on contributing to this blog at least a dozen times this year and will be contributing some helpful videos regarding self-massage, therapeutic exercises and proper stretching, etc. As a massage therapist with a passion to help people get out of those nasty pain patterns. If you have any questions you can contact me here, phone or email.
Let me know if you have any questions. Comment and let me know what your New Year’s Resolution is. :)