STAY MOTIVATED WHILE LEARNING A LANGUAGE
Tips and Tricks to Sccess
Q: What are some of the most common mistakes you see in new language learners?
A: Remember, the brain is designed to learn. But it takes its time, and it does it on its own schedule. A big problem in language learning is that people get frustrated too quickly because they forget, they don’t understand, they don’t know how to say what they’d like to say. But in fact, you have no control. You have to trust that if you keep studying, you will learn. So, trust the process and be patient.
Q: I’ve always heard that the only way to really learn a language is to immerse yourself. Is that true?
A: For the vast majority of language learners, this is not possible. They’re not in a situation where they can immerse themselves by say, traveling to the country where the language is spoken. Yes, immerse yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to go to the country. You just have to spend a lot of time with the language. But that could be through a newspaper or a podcast.
Q: On your blog you emphasize the primacy of reading and writing when learning a language. What kinds of reading materials are best?
A: Again, you have to seek out content that is interesting to you. That always comes first. In general, though, content that is either intended for or spoken by native speakers can be better due to its credibility. If you are only exposing yourself to a new language through learner content (textbooks, flashcards, scripted dialogues), on a sub-conscious level, you don’t believe that that’s how people speak, and therefore, you’ll be less likely to remember it.
Q: Can you give an example?
A: In the case of learning Czech, I was able to find Radio Prague on the internet. They have both audio and text available. So I download the audio and import the text into LingQ, where I can save words and phrases.
Q: One of the unique parts of your methods is the emphasis on vocabulary over grammar. Why this approach?
A: Getting a lot of the words is key. Most vocabulary you pick up will be incidental, from listening and reading. Words are much more important than grammar. If you know a lot of words, you’ll understand what people are saying and will be able to say something. If all you know is grammar, you won’t be able to say anything.
Q: What’s the best way to learn new vocabulary?
A: By reading. The key to vocabulary acquisition is reading. That’s true in your own language, and in foreign language.
Q: Another key to your method is what you call “developing attentiveness”. Can you please elaborate on that?
A: You have to be able to notice things – the words, the patterns, the phrases. That helps your brain start to assimilate the new language. With online dictionaries, it’s much easier to do this.
Q: Do you ever get frustrated when you’re learning a new language?
A: When I was studying French [in school] I wasn’t interested. Once I got interested, there was no frustration because I was reading things that were interesting for me. It never frustrates me. Never.