This article provides succinct methods on how to choose a language to learn, practice it, and retain it quickly.
In the first section author, Annalee Newitz, addresses a common misconception that not everyone is primed to learn another language. You do not have to be three years old, a language nerd, or have a lot of free time and resources in order to quickly learn a language. Anyone with intent is capable.
The next component in learning a language is to consider which language you want to learn. This may seem obvious but the closer in grammatical structure, alphabet characters, and intonation to the languages you speak already, the easier the language will be to learn. For example, English speakers will be more challenged by learning Mandarin, Japanese, or Thai because of their tones but will find Spanish or German easier to learn.
Newitz points to immersion as the primary way to quickly retain a another language. While this may seem expensive or daunting, Newitz gives an example in which an Arabic teacher hosts a dinner in Arabic for their students. Rather than opening up a textbook and pointing at dinner vocabulary words, students learn as they pass around plates, chew salad, sip drinks, and use napkins. The combination of physical, auditory, and verbal ways of learning are shown to produce higher vocabulary retention rates than studying with a textbook for an exam.
Newitz concludes the piece by referencing language learning tips from a person who can speak 50 languages.
One technique called shadowing involves listening, speaking, and reading text simultaneously. You must find both an audio recording and the text equivalent so you can read aloud while the recording plays. In order to shadow properly you must: 1. Walk outdoors as swiftly as possible. 2. Maintain perfectly upright posture. 3. Articulate thoroughly in a loud, clear voice.
Another technique Newitz shared is called scriptorium where students “students write the language while simultaneously speaking it out loud.” The activity slows you down and forces you to pay attention to the details.
Now that you are equipped with these tips and techniques… go out and learn a language! What’s stopping you?
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