Quick Ways in Learning to Speak a Language

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Your Income, Jan 23, 2012.

  1. Your Income Registered Senior Member

    Californian English speaker here.

    I grew up passively learning Tagalog from my folks. I can understand most phrases, and the language just seems to come out from me without thinking. Whenever I'm home with my folks, they have the Filipino Channel on, and I'll get my Tagalog on.

    I learned Spanish in high school and since u-grad have listened to Spanish TV and radio, can do fairly well conversing, throwing a bit of Spanglish in there.

    Been listening to CD audio of Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, German, French...all kind of the same, don't feel like I've learned much.

    Latest language I've really tried to learn to hear and speak is Khmer to communicate with a group of senior citizens. There were some translators, but they weren't always around, so I had to say something to them. Also helped that I had a Cambodian girlfriend for a bit who happened to be fluent in the language.

    I think what I've been doing to learn Khmer has been kind of effective as far as quickly picking up a language, but I'm not all that sure.

    After learning greetings and point out some objects in another language, the novelty wears off. It gets kinda dull and you don't know really know how to say anything or learn how anything is said, least that's how I felt about the CD audio of all those other languages.

    First, learned the pronouns, I, You, He/She/It, We, They.

    Then, with a short English-Khmer glossary, I circled the verbs, I figured that I needed to learn those verbs first. I've come up with a big list of verbs, and have been trying to figure out how to categorize the most used verbs. Like verbs of the senses, verbs of movement, verbs of travelling, verbs for school and work, verbs of possession, verbs of organization, etc.

    Then I learned some adverbs and adjectives: fast, slow, big, small, tall, short.

    Then I'm gathering some phrases that they always use.

    Wondering if there's any other tips, studies of more efficient methods...
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  3. SgtSalamiPants Registered Member

    Wow, this was really insightful! Thank you! I've been teaching myself isiNdebele for almost a year now, but I felt myself nearing "the wall" of discovery and study because the methods I had been using were outgrown by the increase in complexity of the things I was moving on to in the overall understanding and grasp of the language. This is an organized and creative method you've just shared!
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The easiest, fastest and most painless way to learn a language is to be exposed to it as a child. After all, this is how we all learn our native languages!

    Unfortunately, it works both ways. Children whose parents and siblings spend more time away from home don't learn their native language as well as those who are surrounded by family members, staff or nannies. Smaller vocabulary, difficulty following long sentences and a host of other problems.

    Anyway, you were lucky to be exposed to two languages in childhood. Your brain was trained to understand that there is more than one way to put words together to express an idea, and in fact that the two versions are not exact duplicates. I know nothing about Tagalog, but I can assure you that the way time, relationships, gender, and many other features that we take for granted, are astoundingly different in Chinese from the English way.

    Apparently you've already made the discovery that once your brain has learned that there are at least two ways to communicate, learning a third way is a lot easier.

    When I lived in Arizona (this was back in the Bronze Age

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    ), Spanish was taught in the 7th grade--which is still barely the age when our brains are flexible enough to deal with it. I am so grateful for that.
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