January 25, 2011

Learning a simple language

Listen to MP3

Hello everyone,

as I said many many times, I am very sure that there are people out there who have much more experience with language learning or language tutoring than me and I do not consider myself to be an expert in this field at all. People sometimes ask me, how to start learning a foreign language, but truly, I don't know how to answer and I really don't think that I am the most competent person to do so too. I have not read any book on how people learn or should learn languages, and I have only some teaching experience. The few things that I've read about how we learn languages or new things in general were mostly online and almost everything that I've learned myself I learned by trying and trying until something eventually worked (doing a lot of thinking during the trial and error process of course), so I don't know how many people would be interested in listening to my rants on language learning, since they only might work for me and might not work for the next person.

But, maybe there will be someone out there who might get some new ideas from what I say and I can be only happy about that so I will try to make this small introduction to language learning today, starting with a "how to learn a simple language" podcast. Enjoy.

Continue to Part II.


  1. Hi Vlad!! I only just found your podcast on the Polyglot project with David mansaray, and now have been browsing your blog like crazy. Simply amazing articles!! I'm so happy I have found such a good resource! This is a really standard question, so apologies, but do you focus on one language at a time, and if not, do you have a major language, and one you casually browse? (I'm loving German, but I'm gagging to study mandarin even if just to spend some time relaxing and listening to the language)

  2. Hello. Thank you very much for the nice words and enthusiasm:)

    To answer your question, I think it is best to try to stay with one language until you get to the 'epiphany point/moment' and dab with languages here and there out of interest. I say 'try to' because it is almost impossible :) But try to do your best. If you start losing motivation to learn that one language, you might want to try to find a way to stay motivated until that epiphany point. If you stop learning a language before that point, the next time you pick it up, you will feel like starting all over again. With difficult languages like Mandarin, this is very hard, so if you like to learn a lot from many different languages try to stay within a group that is close to your native language. It will be easier.

  3. Thank you for such a detailed (and fast) response! German is my first foreign language I'm learning, and I'm about 6 months in, so am now loving this new feeling of trying to read novels which seemed impossible before etc. But after listening to podcast's with you, Luca, Richard Simcott and Steve Kaufmann, it is hard to not want to jump onto some other language all the time lol! This is a subjective question, and of course, it depends how much time the individual puts in, but when does this epiphany point come roughly? (since i have never experienced it yet). For example, if German takes 1000 hours to learn to a decent level (lets just suppose this figure is correct), when can I expect to have reached this level of autonomy? (I understand it's not as quantitative as this, but just roughly if thats possible)

  4. Hello again. To be honest, I don't think I can give you a good answer. My guess would be, that If you are talented, motivated and have enough passive exposure to the language at home and then move to Germany, 2-3 month should be enough to reach the epiphany moment, but you have to speak the language daily for several hours. Enough exposure is about 6-8 months of intensive listening, reading and attempts at speaking:)

  5. No, thats a great answer! Its because its my first foreign language, so I'm improving massively with my input since I started six months ago, but I always have that panic that maybe this is all for nothing and won't get me to fluency! Many thanks for all your replies, hope your enjoying Farsi or Polish!

  6. Glad you're enjoying the process:) Wish you the best with your studies.