6 techniques to learn a language
Today I”m going to share with you how I learned to speak 5 languages. Really what I’m giving you are 6 techniques so you can learn to speak a new language easier and faster.
- Forget grammar
- Keep it simple
- Zipf’s law and the Pareto principle
- Daily contact
- Subject – verb – object – other
- Building block
Just say no to grammar
First, forget the grammar. If someone says to you, “I want a apple”, rather than ‘an’ apple you totally know what they are saying. If you hear, “I want go store”, again you totally understand the meaning despite the poor grammar.
So when you are learning a language that has several forms of ‘a’ and ‘the’, pick one and use it. Forget about the other forms and get to the speaking. Use this same principle for other grammar elements also and you will be speaking a new language scarily fast.
Keep it simple
When you are not tripped up over grammar it’s easy to say things simply and clearly and with less anxiety. So do it.
Say, “I want apple, please” instead of, “I would like an apple, please”.
“Where train station?” means the same things as, “Could you give me directions to the train station?
“This good” suffices for “This is delicious” or “This is really quite tasty”.
You know, “We go museum yesterday” really means ‘We went to the museum yesterday’.
You will find this simplicity in communication works well. And it’s a lot better than staying mute because you don’t have perfect grammar or don’t yet have the vocabulary to say more complex sentences.
Zipf’s Law and the Pareto principle
Zipf’s law tells us that the most frequent word in a language will occur twice as often as the second most used word. And three times as often as the third most used word, etc.
The Pareto principle is closely aligned to the 80 – 20 rule. Eighty percent of what is said is done with only 20% of the words.
This means that by learning 100 to 300 words you will be able to say a lot of the language. You can learn to communicate in a new language with just a few hundred words!
Focus on nouns, verbs, and key connectors
Focus those 100 to 300 words on nouns and verbs and just a few key connectors.
This sentence, “I want go museum” is a great example of what can be done with a simple sentence and a few nouns and verbs.
Change just a noun or verb and you can say a lot of things.
- I want go beach.
- I want go home.
- I want run beach.
- I want stay home.
- I want stay museum,
- You want go musum?
- You want go beach?
And once you learn how to express an idea don’t get caught up in learning a different way to say the same thing.
I like coffee, I enjoy coffee, I love coffee, I fancy coffee, I savor coffee, I relish coffee, all pretty much mean the same thing so learn one and move on.
You must keep daily contact with the language if you want to learn to speak a new language. Just a few minutes a day makes a difference but the longer the better. Listening and speaking are the best things you can do, then things such as studying, reading, writing are great. Just do something each day that gets you in contact with the language.
Subject – Verb – Object – Other
The building block method, ignoring grammar, and keeping it simple all work nicely with the Subject – Verb – Object – Other formula. Most languages follow this pattern or have the same elements in a different order.
The building block method
Once you know the pattern of how sentences are constructed in the language you are learning you can play around with the different elements just like building blocks.
The building block method allows you to insert individual words into sentences.
|I want||to go|
|I want||to eat|
|I want||to eat||rice|
|I want||to go||Milan|
|I want||to go||Milan||Monday|
You get the idea.
From this starting point, you are speaking, interacting, gaining confidence and well on your way to really speaking the language.