Tuesday, July 1, 2014

How to learn any language in six months: Chris Lonsdale at TEDxLingnanUn...

Dr. Lonsdale recommends these 5 Principles:

1.  Recognize the relationships there are (shortcuts) between associating ATTENTION, MEANING, RELEVANCE and MEMORY.   Master these tools.  Keep asking yourself where you are on that continuum.

2.  Use language to communicate from Day 1:  "Ich verstehe das nicht."  "Langsamer bitte."  etc.  to make it meaningful.

3.  Work to shut down that filter that we all seem to develop or acquire to keep out new sounds. When that filter isn't working, you will be wide open to hearing all of the new sounds and on your way to acquiring them. 

4.  You will learn the language by absorption when you learn to understand the message.  Work toward comprehending the language coming at you.  (Stephen Krashen names this:  Comprehensible Input, and most teachers focus hard to bring this to you.)

5.  Realize that speaking takes muscles; each language uses the 43 facial muscles differently.  Just like taking on any new sport, do expect that your mouth will be sore after practicing.

To facilitate learning, Dr. Lonsdale recommends these 7 core actions:

1.  Listen a lot!  SOAK YOUR BRAIN!  It doesn't matter, especially at the very beginning, if you understand what you are hearing.

2.  Actively guess at the meaning.  This requires you to focus.  Don't worry about actual vocabulary.

3.  Once you acquire a few verbs, nouns, adjectives, mix them up:  "I Tarzan, you Jane" - style. Get creative!  You are working toward being understood, not being grammatically correct.

4.  Acquire your Tool Box.  Know that in English, 1000 words cover 85% of your daily communication needs; 300 words cover 98%.  You're almost there!  But be systematic:
  •     First weeks, focus on basic nouns; greetings.
  •     Next weeks, add simple pronouns and verbs.
  •     Then, add "Glue Words" (conjunctions; but, and; although, however, therefore, well, then...)
5.  Find a Language Parent, who will listen carefully to you for meaning and feed back words you know already, without correcting mistakes.

6.  Copy the faces of people who speak the language -- so that you can get the sounds right, and therefore be understood.

7.  Compile your learning through "Direct Connect" process, whereby you keep layering more vocabulary on top of what you already know, devising new paths for using words you acquire.

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