February 11, 2011

Learning a simple language - Part 3

Hello everyone,

last week I did a recording on how I would learn a simple language (Slovene) and because the recording got a little bit too long, I divided it into two parts. This is the second part of the recording. Enjoy.

  1. The reason for doing all of this listening work is to be able to understand 95% of everything that is said before you go to Slovenia. Like I said in the earlier recordings, speaking is something that you can only learn well in the country where the language is spoken (for the most part) and so you eventually will have to go there anyway but this way you will save lots and lots of time and energy.
  2. I would continue listening to the newscasts until I get to a point where I would not need a dictionary anymore, because I would understand the words that I hadn’t heard before out of context. And I would just keep listening to the newscasts for the pleasure of listening and information itself and get deeper into the language. Understand how some of the more complicated wordings are used, under what circumstances and so on.
  3. Once I’d be more comfortable with all of this, I would either find a language exchange partner or go to Slovenia for at least 3 weeks which is not such a bad idea to do in the summer.
  4. Once in Slovenia, I would spend a lot of time with Slovenians but this is a little tricky and I think it is necessary to say that the friendships should be honest, since I have seen a lot of people here in Taiwan make fake friendships or get into relationships just to practice Mandarin which is so not fair. Going into Slovenia is finally the point when you start improvising and see what happens :)
  5. If you have trouble with pronunciation just work on and think about it anytime you have the chance. Try reproducing the sounds on your own by always changing the position of your tongue a little and listening or recording yourself all the time. Ask your friends to mock you and make fun of your accent for 10 seconds, that’s when you will realize what you are doing wrong.
  6. I heard Stuart Jay say that a good trick is to listen to the speakers of the language that you are about to learn speaking English and see what mistakes they make in pronunciation while they speak English, because those are exactly the sounds that you need to learn in their language. You can also extend this to see what awkward sentence constructions they use in English because these are quite possibly the ones that you will need in the language you are learning as well.
  7. While you’re in Slovenia buy a lot of books. Detective stories worked best for me as they keep me attached to the book even though the reading is a pain because I want to know how the book will end. As I said, reading is something that will take your language knowledge to a different level.
  8. When I get back home, I would use MSN or skype to voice chat, but text chat as well with friends in Slovenia. By text chatting you can work on your grammar, spelling, written language and so on.
  9. After getting home, I would also read the books that I bought in Slovenia. The text should not influence my pronunciation anymore. Because revision is so important, what I usually do, I circle in the words that I don’t understand, look them up, draw a line to the side of the page and write the translation over there. The logic behind this is, that after I read 10 pages I flip back and revise, the circles around the words make the words easy to spot on the page and the translation far away from the word makes the revision possible, because if you write the translation right next to the word itself it’s useless.
  10. When it comes to writing, I would first start writing short essays. I would first start by writing them in my native language with a subsequent translation into Slovene. This is quite important, because if you write something directly in Slovene without having any previous experience with writing in Slovene, it will be extremely incoherent. You will concentrate on details rather than the message. After the first 4-5 translated essays, I would start writing directly in Slovene and have it checked by a friend.
That’s what I would do anyway. Learning a simple language, if you have enough time and devotion to a very good level should be relatively easy and should take a relatively short amount of time. If you listen to me speaking Russian in my recording, it took me 2 and a half months of listening back home and one month in Russia to get to that level. I think this could be achieved under 2 months but you would have to be in Russia all the time, but than again it is no race, I would only do this if I had time restraints because of employment requirements or the like.

The above only would be a general scheme, I never learned Slovene and because every language is different of course the system would have to be adjusted on the way.


  1. " I think it is necessary to say that the friendships should be honest, since I have seen a lot of people here in Taiwan make fake friendships or get into relationships just to practice Mandarin which is so not fair. "

  2. Thanks for the tips.

    I'll use them to improve my spanish/italian (as a french speaker)