Best Language Learning System For Everyone

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Language Learning

Being able to learn and hold a conversation in a new language can seem like a daunting task to anyone. When you think back to the years spent learning a foreign language in high school and college, you realize you’re lucky you can remember more than five words. I spent four years in high school learning Spanish, and then added another two years in college. Think I could turn on the Spanish channel and tell everyone what was going on? Hardly. A year after classes ended, I couldn’t remember anything. This wasn’t because I didn’t try in these classes, or that I wasn’t good at retaining information. The educational system for foreign languages in schools is flawed. The books weren’t geared towards someone becoming a foreign conversationalist. And a teacher is only as good as the materials being used. After doing a lot of research a few years ago, I came across a system to best develop my foreign language skills. I adapted this system to use the best resources available. The result – I was able to achieve conversational fluency in two languages (Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese) in only a few months of studying each. This system is comprised of the four factors, which determine the speed you’ll achieve fluency in the desired language:

1. Category – Languages are grouped into one of three categories, which are determined by how close they are to the English language. Before picking a language to learn, finding out the category it is in will give you an idea on how hard it will be to learn. Languages in Category 1 take much less time to learn than those in Category 3, which have major grammar and vocab differences from English.
Category I: Languages closely related to English – Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.
Category II: Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English – Greek, Russian, Polish, and Turkish.
Category III: Languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers – Arabic, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.

2. Method – This is where the learning system is flawed in high schools and colleges (a lot of them anyways). Teachers can only be as good as their methods and materials. You can become fairly fluent in a manner of a few months if you’re choosing the right subset of material to learn. Teachers try to get us to learn a plethora of vocab and grammar we will never need to use. This is why I like the Pimsleur Approach so much.  The Pimsleur Approach uses memorization techniques with question and answer prompts to keep you involved in the lesson and help you retain what you learn. The program uses 2500 of the most common words to teach you the most useful conversational phrases in the desired language. Ask yourself what you’re going to spend your time doing with this language. If you’re going to use it to try to pick up girls or to just get around comfortably, learn the words and phrases that mirror the ones you would use in English.
Here are a few other great methods:
Rosetta Stone – is a software program using a full media immersion approach that gives the user a variety of options to use. The software is fairly expensive but is excellent and available in an impressive variety of languages.
– Traveling and living in the country – nothing is as good as totally immersing yourself in another country and forcing yourself to learn everything about the language.
My Happy Planet – This site connects language learners around the world and allows you to practice foreign languages with native speakers.  You can also check out Livemocha and eduFire.

3. Level of Interest – Even if you select and use the best language learning methods out there, if you don’t adhere to them with repeated study, you’ll never retain anything. If you’re not very interested or you don’t have any motivation in learning, you’re out of luck. It’s not hard to find motivation – you can impress that foreign girl you always had a crush on, find that international dream job, or get the most out of your travel experiences. I like to listen to at least one lesson of the Pimsleur Approach on a daily basis to keep the momentum going.

4. Productivity – Now, if you’ve decided on the language you want to learn, found what you thought is the best teaching method, and are very excited to learn the language, you have to keep reevaluating whether or not you’re achieving your goal in a decent amount of time. If your goal is to become conversationally fluent in Japanese, Russian, and Arabic in a couple of years, it’s not going to happen no matter what method you use, or how excited you are to learn. If you’re trying to learn Spanish for an engineering job, but the method you’re using caters to those who are going on vacation, you probably aren’t getting the best bang for your buck with the amount of time you’re investing.

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