How to learn a language?
Discover some tips for learning a foreign language. Our team of polyglots made a point of sharing with you some little-known tips allowing students to assimilate the language of their choice.
Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto realized during his career that 80% of results were caused by 20% effect. In linguistics and in the field of language learning, the same principle applies. In other words, 20% of the vocabulary words in a language are used 80% of the time. Learning a language should therefore focus on useful vocabulary. Words like “to go, to eat, to say, to want” are used very often while words like “investigate, knee, fingers, bruise, purple” are much rarer. In other words, a study focusing on everyday useful words and phrases will allow you to speak the language of your choice very quickly.
The immersion! Really?
We often hear that immersion is the best way to learn a language. While this principle is true when you have a good base in the language, it is less relevant if you are a complete beginner. It is often best to assimilate useful vocabulary and understand the basic mechanics of the language before going on a travel.
We talk 70% of the time in the past tense
We all know that it is important to know the conjugation of a language well in order to express yourself effectively. If some languages like Mongolian have "verbal modes", others like Chinese has no conjugation. This means that the verb is always in its infinitive form, regardless of the subject of the sentence.
What is less know by students learning a language is that we speak 70% of the time in the past tense.
Knowledge of past conjugations therefore becomes essential very quickly when starting to learn a foreign language.
Same universal concepts
If languages are structured in different ways, it is important to remember that the same concepts exist in all languages of the world (or almost). Thus, in all the languages of the world, we can specify these ideas:
- "There is, there are"
- Intention to do a thing (in English with the verb "to want")
- Ability or inability to do an action (in English with "to can")
- Note possession with possessive pronouns ("my", "your"...etc)
- Note the duty or obligation ("to must")
- Mark the wish that our interlocutor make something (with "the imperative")
Interaction before grammar
This is the element that prevents the actual learning of a language when doing traditional lessons. In nearly 99% of educational establishments, the course is focused on grammar and rote learning. This situation means that interaction is not at the center of the pedagogy. In these circumstances, learning the language is done only with our rational and logical side and prevents any intuitive knowledge of the language. The learning takes place but is much much longer ...
A native teacher?
It is often believed that it is essential to take lessons with a teacher whose language learned is his mother tongue. While it is true that the acquisition of an adequate pronunciation is essential, a English-speaking teacher who has learned the language can be a very important asset, especially to begin the learning of a very different language. Indeed, it is easier to have the structure of an (exotic) language explained by someone who has discovered its peculiarities themselves. After a while, however, it becomes important to converse with a native teacher.
When you start learning a language, assimilating a vocabulary is one of the first steps. This is followed (often at the same time) by the second step which consists in understanding the construction of the language.
With sufficient vocabulary and an understanding of the mechanisms of the language (conjugation, agreement, word order, etc.), we become able to create our own sentences. This is the third step ...
When our understanding of the language is good enough, we are able to develop the fourth step: to create automatisms. In other words, this stage is where we don't have to "think" before speaking. This stage only develops through repeated interactions. This is an element that is too often lacking in language schools.
Not the colors or the parts of the body
A lot of teachers (and students) waste a lot of time learning completely useless vocabulary. Indeed, many teachers spend an entire course (sometimes more) on teaching vocabulary such as body parts or colors. While the words "white" or "black," head "and" eyes "can sometimes be helpful, words like" shoulders "," eyebrows "," brown "and" purple "are much less so.
To start learning (and teaching a foreign language), you have to concentrate on useful vocabulary very quickly. Less used words lose motivation in the student who finds no opportunity to use them.