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Here, ten Assimil authors — each with a different native language, or L1 — offer advice and tips on effective and enjoyable ways of picking up a new language. All of them are specialists in the languages they teach, not only through Assimil publications but also face-to-face in classrooms or lecture theatres.
As such, they have experienced the same difficulties as you; been prey to the same doubts as you; and, like you, been disheartened from time to time. Forget your own language and throw yourself headlong into your new universe. What you discover about that culture will make learning both fascinating and rewarding. Everyone makes a fool of themselves when they speak a foreign language for the first time.
And by the third time —and from then on — it becomes truly enjoyable! At the beginning, obviously, you will have to content yourself with understanding the person your are talking to, without daring to say anything yourself. Get over this initial hurdle, which prevents you from speaking, as quickly as you can.
Seize every opportunity to speak the language. Like with everything, continuity is as important when learning a language. Set yourself a target, or at least some specific milestones, before setting out. Then take it from there! You need to work at it on a regular basis — or every day. Choose a reliable method preferably Assimil , of course, but also surround yourself with all the media you can think of in order to get some extra depth. Use anything and everything that comes to hand — books, movies, songs, social media, blogs, whatever takes your fancy.
Forget your inhibitions and wake up your inner child! Plunge right in, even if you come a cropper the first few times. To learn a foreign language you have to speak it. Making mistakes goes hand in hand with making progress. Grammar is a live tool for learning, understanding and speaking a language. Quite the contrary: like the assembly instructions for a Meccano kit, grammar shows you how all the new words you have learned can be put together in different ways.
Progress is not always smooth, so accept the ups and downs and learn at your own speed. You learn in stages, some of which are harder to get through. And some people have more aptitude than others. Success will hinge largely on your persistence and motivation.
Insist on speaking to them in their own language, even if they answer you in yours out of politeness. You will always find similarities between the two in terms of both vocabulary and grammar. Have the nerve to make mistakes. They will point you towards near perfection. Create a personal relationship with your target language and transform the relationship into a passion that will give you very special access to your own way of learning.
For that, you will have to immerse yourself totally in the language: listening to music, watching movies and reading simple texts, such as comic books. Set concrete goals and achievable timeframes in which to reach them.
As in anything, practice makes perfect. That may sound silly, but given the wide variety of multimedia options available to us, you can start by getting used to the sounds of a language from a distance. Music can also be part of this learning process.
Babies learn the sounds of a language before starting to speak. Do as babies do: listen, listen and listen. It prevents your brain from trying to understand the logic of the foreign language. Learning means trying first to understand the general meaning of a sentence; the syntax will follow gradually. Be patient. Languages learned but now rusty or fossilised, to use the linguistic jargon : Arabic classical and Moroccan , Hebrew biblical, what else?
Talk, even if you know only a handful or words and a couple of rules! Laugh, sing, have fun — in short, enjoy yourself in the language. Have faith in yourself! All human beings have the natural ability to learn languages. Wake it up! Organise yourself so that you can be in contact with your target language on a daily basis, even for just ten minutes. Anything will do the trick — movies, the radio, TV, books, courses — because no one has yet found a way to prevent you from learning a language.
But an extended lack of contact quickly becomes irreversible. An extreme example is the case of Victor of Aveyron, the feral child found at age 10 by Dr Itard. Despite five years of effort and teaching, Itard was unable to get Victor to remember a single word! Start by learning a few humorous expressions or slang words. Conversing directly with other people is what learning a language is all about. Translated from the French by Anthony Bulger. Site web. Enregistrer mon nom, mon e-mail et mon site web dans le navigateur pour mon prochain commentaire.
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