How to learn any language in six months | Chris Lonsdale | TEDxLingnanUniversity
How to Become Fluent in a Language
Fluency in a foreign language is a major accomplishment. It's also a great way to increase your opportunities for employment and travel. Fluency is made up of several different factors, so it's important to work on each aspect: speaking, listening, reading, cultural literacy, and writing.
Improving Your Listening Skills
Listen to native speakers in natural contexts as much as possible.If you can't find live native speakers to eavesdrop on, watch movies and television shows in that language, or listen to books on tape or music in that language.
Focus on the unique sounds of the language,including the inflection patterns.
Improving Your Speaking Skills
Practice speaking every day.Try to learn new words and phrases every day. It is also crucial to frequently practice the earlier words you have learned, in addition to newer words. If possible, practice with native speakers, and encourage them to correct you.
Practice the sounds in the language which are most difficult for non-native speakers(for example "ra" and "tsu" in Japanese).
Record yourself speaking,then play it back and compare your inflection and pronunciation to that of native speakers.
Think in the language as much as possible,instead of thinking in your native language and then translating.
Speak as native speakers usually are doing, using idioms and linguistic shortcuts, instead of imitating a textbook, which is often excessively formal and repetitive.
Study the grammar.Grammar books try to explain the rules of the language. The sentence 'This that same is' consists of English words, but isn't grammatically correct.
- Make strong efforts to improve and remember specific grammar rules, so as to avoid incomprehensibility or vagueness to native speakers. 'Thinking' in the other language will also become easier and more frequent.
- People who speak only one language often assume that the rules of their own language apply to all languages, or that these rules are almost the same everywhere. This is not the case at all. Learning a language requires more effort and commitment than just learning lots of foreign words.
- Crash courses often try to play down the importance of studying the grammar. Attempt to opt for a foreign language class, where the teacher may be more adept in helping you better understand grammar rules on a personal and more efficient level.
Improving Your Reading Skills
Read books, magazine articles,and other "real life" material whenever possible.Based on vocabulary you have learnt, attempt to translate or at the very least, get a gist of the contents' meaning or aim.
Read some materialin the language every day.
Make a list of new words as you come across them.Guess the meaning based on the context, visual or auditorial clues before looking them up in a dictionary.
Improving Your Writing Skills
Write somethingin the language every day.This could range from a short sentence summing up your day, to a full-page diary entry or article.
Imitate the wordsof what you've read.
Study the literary conventions of the language thoroughly.Sometimes the written version of the language is radically different than the spoken version.
QuestionHow do I improve pronunciation?Community AnswerIt helps to listen to as much of the language as possible through media such as music, news, podcasts, and conversing with a native speaker.Thanks!
QuestionWhich European languages are derived from Latin and have similar alphabets?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe languages you are interested in are called the Romance Languages. French, Spanish, and Italian are probably the most easily recognizable ones. No Romance Language is a pure successor to Latin. For example, Germanic tribes settled in Italy, France, and Spain bringing Germanic elements unique to each tribe into local and later national languages like Italian, French, and Spanish.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I improve speaking correctly without knowing any native speakers?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTry listening to an audio clip or a movie/video and imitate what the speaker is saying. Record yourself and compare how you speak.Thanks!
QuestionWhere can I obtain the literature necessary to become fluent in another language?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGo to a library or bookstore and ask for the foreign language section. Also, find out what the Top Level Domain (TLD) is of the country of your target language and read the news on their news websites (ex. Google.com.br for Brazil). Find out the translation for "news" (ex. noticias) and put that into Google.Thanks!
QuestionHow could I improve my fluency when rendering a speech?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou will improve your fluency by getting confidence and being able to speak in front of different people, and you will also get to know different words of the language.Thanks!
QuestionI want to speak Japanese but I cannot afford a teacher. What should I do?Madame MadCommunity AnswerDuolingo is now teaching it, and you could always watch Japanese movies and try to figure out what they are saying.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if the book or internet resources are wrong?Top AnswererIf you know of specific errors, point them out to the author, publisher or website.Thanks!
QuestionWhere can I find books in the language I wish to study?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerLook online, there are many bookstores catering to your needs.Thanks!
Where can I find materials to learn how to converse more naturally, rather than sounding like a textbook in German?
- Don't underestimate the power of speaking with a native speaker in the language you want to learn. This alone will catapult you into some fluency. If you are unable to find any you can meet with personally, you can usually find a conversation partner to converse with over Skype. Websites such as serve as both directories and platforms for conversation partners looking to meet another person who speaks a language they want to learn. You'll also be able to help them with learning English.
- Make mistakes without worry. It's good to make mistakes because you can learn from them, and be much more likely to correct them in future instances.
- Attempt to learn the language from a mix of factors; for instance, learn how to master the language in both formal and informal registers, to be able to develop a wider approach to different audiences/people and situations.
- List, manage and add notes on all of the necessary vocabulary, grammar rules and extra information of the language in a notebook or digital notepad for future reference and revision opportunities.
- To improve memory of vocabulary for revision, include images (visual or mental) that associate best with specific words. Simply viewing the images used in real-life situations may result in you being able to quickly remember the word associated with the image used.
- Expand your knowledge across various media. Learn the linguistic structures of a newspaper/magazine article, formal/informal letter, casual conversation or even advertisements to widen your grasp of the language, as you are available to encounter these forms of media on a daily basis.
- Study Esperanto for a couple of weeks. Studies have shown that people who learn Esperanto for just two weeks more easily learn another language- like French- than those who jump right into it. Esperanto also has many words that are easy to remember for English speakers (such as ĉambro, pronounced tchambro, which means room), and it's spoken internationally, so if you do end up learning it for more than 2 weeks, it might be useful!
- Avoid translating between any two languages word-for-word, as results will more often than not turn out grammatically incorrect to native speakers, due to differences in vocabulary and grammar use in each language. Consult a native speaker for correcting translations. Online translators are good enough for rough translations.
- Make sure you know the full cultural meaning of slang phrases, etc, before attempting to use them.
- Learn and maintain a good knowledge of the culture-- you don't want to offend the people you're practicing with. It might be an idea to learn how language in the culture in the past differs from language used in the present.
- Aiming for fluency means aiming for dedication to revision. Prevent yourself from forgetting/avoiding revision, or you will quickly end up forgetting much of the important content of the language, and end up lengthening or abandoning your fluency time-frame. Make efforts to continue learning the language on a daily basis non-stop for best results.
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