Learning languages


There are not many reasons not to learn (new) languages. In a globalizing world, there are more and more people who speak (some form of) English, but at the same time there are also many people migrating who stick to their own language. In situations like these, it is always best to be the one speaking the most languages. Travelling is immensely popular, people from many countries can be met almost everywhere nowadays.

Personally, I’ve always been interested in language, but for some reason I’ve managed to screw up German and French in highschool. I feel a little embarrassed about it, so I think it is time to get back to practicing. Fortunately, learning languages has never been very difficult for me. I once spent a week of vacation in Turkey, and returned with hundred words and sentences that I could pronounce. This should make it easier to get started with this project.

The following year, I will be working hard to expand my vocabularies of Germand and French, but I will also try my best to get Spanish in my system. To achieve this goal, I want to make use of Tim Ferris’ method (How to Learn a Language in Three Months), instead of enrolling in more traditional language courses. Of course, if you know other good ways of practicing languages, feel free to share them with the readers and me.

Let’s take a look at what Ferris does. He starts by saying that you should work effectively, by choosing the right material, that you should be adherent, and that you should work efficient. If you have the wrong material, are not interested enough and slack, or keep working with a method that doesn’t improve your knowledge of the language, you won’t make progress. Hence, read about and listen to subjects that you like. That makes it a lot easier to learn. Sounds very reasonable. However, schools often do the oppositie of what he suggests, says Ferris.

Furthermore, one of the main ideas of Tim Ferris’ approach is that you should apply “Pareto’s Principle of 80/20″, which “dictates that 80% of the results in any endeavor come from 20% of the input, material, or effort.” So instead of putting many hours into learning long lists of random words, you should learn those words that are most used. This will most likely help you to understand the rest of the language much faster.

If you want to read Ferris’ blogs on resurrecting languages you learned on highschool click here. Again, he says that you should pick films or texts that interest you, and build up the difficulty. If you want to know more about how he deconstructs grammar of an unfamilar language click here instead. In the most concise form, Ferris reminds us that language consists of rules and principles, and it is easiest to learn these by using or experiencing them through subjects or activities you like.

I’m looking forward to finding out if this works for me as well.


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