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Method to learn any language

 Language Learning Forum : Learning Techniques, Methods & Strategies Post Reply
jeff_fontaine
Newbie
Canada
learnlanguageso
Joined 1379 days ago

10 posts - 13 votes
Studies: Portuguese

 
 Message 1 of 8
17 November 2015 at 9:56pm | IP Logged 
Hi everyone, I'm writing about a method that helped me to learn languages on my own and I will pass it on to you so that you too can have success. This method involves no need of learning grammar or vocabulary and is focused entirely on practicing the language from beginning to end. I am confident it can be used to learn any language you want.

The method will only be outlined here so make sure to check out the website in my profile for more details.

1. Determine which language to learn
This can sound obvious to some of you, but in fact, it is a detail that is overlooked by many. When learning a language for a specific purpose, it is best to learn the variety of the language best suited to fulfill this purpose. When talking about a variety, what is usually meant is a dialect of a language, although it can be more specific than that. When learning Arabic, do you know if you should learn Maghrebi Arabic or Gulf Arabic?

2. Find out what resources are available to you
When choosing to learn a language, it is handy to research if you are going to easily find native speakers to practice with and if you're going to have access to a lot of websites which will help you learn the language.

3. The time and difficulty
Another factor that is often overlooked, the time factor. To be successful in learning a language, you need to be realistic in the amount of time you have to learn it and the amount of time it takes to learn it.

The time factor is in direct relation with the difficulty factor. During this step, it is important to assess the level of difficulty of a language. This level of difficulty is relative: it has to do with the similarities that are shared between the language(s) you speak and the target language. You need to ask yourself, are the languages related? What features do they have in common and which features they do not which might be difficult to learn?

4. Practice using Google Translate
You might think that Google Translate is a poor tool to learn a language because it is such a terrible translator at times, but you are wrong. If used in a cautious way, it is a great tool, especially at the early stages of learning a language although not exclusively. It gives you instant translations which you can use to communicate with a native speaker of the target language. By communicating what you do is you practice the language and as many people say, practice is the best, most efficient way to learn a language.

Do not focus on what you translate into the target language, since as we know, the translations from Google Translate might not be written correctly. You only use it this way temporarily since you may not yet know how to write something in the language you are learning.

Instead, focus on the way the native speaker you practice with is speaking, since he/she knows how to use the language, at least, most likely better than you. Use Google Translate to translate what he/she says to you, if you do not understand it. Google Translate might not give you a "correct" translation into your language, but that is not the point; all you need here is to understand what he/she is saying and along with the context, you should be able to do that. If you do understand, then you are creating a link in your mind between the two languages and thus, you are learning the language.

I do suggest though that you familiarize yourself with the alphabet of the target language before you use Google Translate, if this alphabet is different than yours.

5. Language exchange, dating websites and games
Language exchange websites are great to find people to practice with since the people on these websites are just like you, eager to learn a language. Dating websites are also great since you do not have to advertise for a relationship, all you need is people to communicate with and there are tons out there who are open to friendship. Games nowadays are a great way to practice a language; whether it's a small cellphone game or a big PC game, the communication element is now huge in games today and it can be taken advantage of by language learners.

6. Ready? Let's practice!
Here is my suggestion. Forget about the grammar and basics of a language and start practicing right away. Read and follow the complete method, find people to practice with and practice with them using Google Translate.

Good luck!

Edited by jeff_fontaine on 22 November 2015 at 1:40am

2 persons have voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3086 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 2 of 8
18 November 2015 at 3:15am | IP Logged 
Welcome, Jeff!

I think you might be interested in Iversen's guide or browsing the forum a bit. (and perhaps you might like to join the new one, where most people from this community have moved forum.language-learners.com as you will certainly get more interaction there)

Some of your points are something most learners around here agree on (such as considering the time requirements, using movies and computer games, exchanges, choosing a language well), even though some are more subject to discussion (sometimes quite passionate ones :-) )

I think the Google Translator advice is a bit doubleedged. It might be good enough to be used as you propose for a few languages, especially not too distant ones. But in other combinations, it becomes deadly. The problems are not just the grammar but as well totally wrong vocabulary, and overall nonsense.

From a quick glance over your website, I suppose there could be some good tips on learning with a low budget, which are always welcome, I'm gonna read it, when I have more time.

But one thing bugged me: too little information about yourself, as I always try to find out who is the person behind any kind of advice and whether their experience lives up to the promises of success. That is something that makes my advice filters either more dense or more easier to pass. And I haven't learnt much about you.

Quote:
I am a native speaker of Quebec French who obtained a major in linguistics at the Université de Montréal. Over the years in my life, I have been able to successfully learn a few languages on my own and at very little financial cost (usually with just an internet connection). When I say I learned a few languages, what I mean is that I learned these languages not to the extent of being fluent in them, but at least to the point of being able to communicate with someone using only this language.


a few languages: that sounds good, which ones? Obviously Portuguse is on the list. You mention Arabic on the website, that would be very impressive. And which language is your native one? English or French? Or are you from a bilingual family?

at very little cost: I'd love to see a links page on your website, and I am probably not the only one excited to discover new cheap/free high quality resources :-)

to which level have you learnt your languages? communicate using only the target language, that can mean anything. were you using them during a holiday or an extented stay? or for correspondance? have you taken an exam in the languages?

Thanks for any answers in advance, I am quite curious :-) and welcome!
3 persons have voted this message useful



jeff_fontaine
Newbie
Canada
learnlanguageso
Joined 1379 days ago

10 posts - 13 votes
Studies: Portuguese

 
 Message 3 of 8
18 November 2015 at 3:08pm | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
Welcome, Jeff!
I think you might be interested in Iversen's guide or browsing the forum a bit. (and perhaps you might like to join the new one, where most people from this community have moved forum.language-learners.com as you will certainly get more interaction there)


Thanks, I will definitely take a look

Cavesa wrote:

I think the Google Translator advice is a bit doubleedged. It might be good enough to be used as you propose for a few languages, especially not too distant ones. But in other combinations, it becomes deadly. The problems are not just the grammar but as well totally wrong vocabulary, and overall nonsense.


What I mean in fact is to use Google Translate as a communication tool only, because as you pointed out, the translations it gives sometimes make no sense at all. The learning shouldn't come from the translations themselves, but rather from the interactions that Google Translate allows you to have with the speakers, which you might otherwise not be able to have if you don't speak one word or very little of the language you want to learn. Here's a possible scenario:

Let's say I don't speak one word of Russian and I want to practice Russian? I find some speakers of Russian on some language exchange website and I try to communicate with them. The speaker of Russian, Igor, starts the conversation by saying "hello, how are you?" in Russian. I obviously don't understand what he's saying to I use Google Translate to find that out. It gives me a translation which I understand and which happens to be grammatical for such a simple sentence. I look at his "how are you?" in Russian and associate with the translation in my head. A bit of learning occurred.

Then it's me turn to reply. I write "I'm good, and you?" in Google Translate and translate it to Russian. I have no clue if the translation is grammatical. I could try to find out whether it's grammatical by searching the translation or a portion of it on Google, which should give me a good idea. If it's all over Google, then I can safely assume it is correct. More learning has occurred. Or I might not search it at all on Google and just say it to Igor to save me some time. In either case, let's say Igor understood me. He might tell me that my "I'm good, and you?" was incorrect and gives me the correct way to say it in which case I learned something (that would be the best case scenario). Or he might just continue the conversation in which case, I will assume my "I'm good, and you?" to be correct for now, but I know it may not be. But eventually, I will speak Igor or someone else and the roles will be inverted: I will ask him "How are you?" Russian (since I know how to say this now) and he will say "I'm good, and you?" in Russian and I will now know how to say this correctly.

This can keep on going indefinitely and as a result, you will have never asked anyone to teach you the language and you will have performed your learning all by practice by speaking without learning all these notions of grammar individually. And I think most people agree that practice by speaking is where the language learning really takes place.

Cavesa wrote:

But one thing bugged me: too little information about yourself, as I always try to find out who is the person behind any kind of advice and whether their experience lives up to the promises of success. That is something that makes my advice filters either more dense or more easier to pass. And I haven't learnt much about you.

Quote:
I am a native speaker of Quebec French who obtained a major in linguistics at the Université de Montréal. Over the years in my life, I have been able to successfully learn a few languages on my own and at very little financial cost (usually with just an internet connection). When I say I learned a few languages, what I mean is that I learned these languages not to the extent of being fluent in them, but at least to the point of being able to communicate with someone using only this language.


a few languages: that sounds good, which ones? Obviously Portuguse is on the list. You mention Arabic on the website, that would be very impressive. And which language is your native one? English or French? Or are you from a bilingual family?

at very little cost: I'd love to see a links page on your website, and I am probably not the only one excited to discover new cheap/free high quality resources :-)

to which level have you learnt your languages? communicate using only the target language, that can mean anything. were you using them during a holiday or an extented stay? or for correspondance? have you taken an exam in the languages?

Thanks for any answers in advance, I am quite curious :-) and welcome!


Thanks so much for that feedback. You know sometimes when you write something it is difficult to see what is missing or what should be different because you are too close to it, you know what I mean ? I completely agree with you, I will definitely provide some updates to the website :)
1 person has voted this message useful



Peetpeet
Diglot
Newbie
CanadaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 1363 days ago

9 posts - 14 votes
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: German, Spanish

 
 Message 4 of 8
29 November 2015 at 8:41pm | IP Logged 
Google Translate is EPIC for watching shows in a language you aren't used to. I have it on my phone and if I am watching something in a language I don't speak yet, and I hear a word I think I might know, I pause it and put in the English word that I think it was and it'll pop up a translation. And you get to see the word and hear it. Then you can confirm whether or not that word you heard was in fact that word by replaying that part of the movie or show again. I love this and it helps a lot. I find words I learn this way stick
out in my mind moreso than any other way. That being said, however, I don't encourage
using google translate for full sentences until you have enough of a grasp of the
language to read it and think "You know what, that doesn't sound quite right." This, of
course, may not work so well if you are new to a language that uses a completely
different writing system. It can be an excellent tool, but you do have to figure out the
best way to use it for you, if you choose to use it. (It can be a bit risky.)

Edited by Peetpeet on 29 November 2015 at 8:48pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



aokoye
Diglot
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3618 days ago

235 posts - 453 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Dutch, Norwegian, Japanese

 
 Message 5 of 8
29 November 2015 at 9:32pm | IP Logged 
For individual words I think that dictionaries (online or hard copy) that actually specialize in that specific
language are significantly more useful than Google Translate. Lets use the example of watching shows
in a language that isn't my first language - if I'm watching a show in German and I don't know the
meaning of a word I'll go to dict.cc and look it up. The definitions are *far* more accurate by and large
than Google Translate. I know a lot of people also like Leo.org as well.
5 persons have voted this message useful



jeff_fontaine
Newbie
Canada
learnlanguageso
Joined 1379 days ago

10 posts - 13 votes
Studies: Portuguese

 
 Message 6 of 8
07 December 2015 at 4:46am | IP Logged 
Peetpeet wrote:
Google Translate is EPIC for watching shows in a language you aren't used to. I have it on my phone and if I am watching something in a language I don't speak yet, and I hear a word I think I might know, I pause it and put in the English word that I think it was and it'll pop up a translation. And you get to see the word and hear it. Then you can confirm whether or not that word you heard was in fact that word by replaying that part of the movie or show again. I love this and it helps a lot. I find words I learn this way stick
out in my mind moreso than any other way.


Although this could not be used if you've just started learning a language (you'd be pausing every second, lol), it's still an efficient way to learn a language when you're at a more advanced level. Thanks for sharing!

Peetpeet wrote:
That being said, however, I don't encourage
using google translate for full sentences until you have enough of a grasp of the
language to read it and think "You know what, that doesn't sound quite right." This, of
course, may not work so well if you are new to a language that uses a completely
different writing system.


You are correct about that point as well, using it for longer sentences increases the risk that a translation will be incorrect, as opposed to using it for a few words or very short sentences.

I agree, this is why I advise people to get familiar with the alphabet of the target language before using Google Translate, because it will be very difficult to read anything that gets translated if you don't know how the characters of this alphabet sound.

Peetpeet wrote:
It can be an excellent tool, but you do have to figure out the
best way to use it for you, if you choose to use it. (It can be a bit risky.)


This is what I attempt doing on my website: come up with a way to use Google Translate that can be used by anyone with little adaptation needed.

aokoye wrote:
For individual words I think that dictionaries (online or hard copy) that actually specialize in that specific
language are significantly more useful than Google Translate. Lets use the example of watching shows
in a language that isn't my first language - if I'm watching a show in German and I don't know the
meaning of a word I'll go to dict.cc and look it up. The definitions are *far* more accurate by and large
than Google Translate. I know a lot of people also like Leo.org as well.


You have a good point there. But the upside of using Google Translate as opposed to a physical dictionary is that you don't need to have anything else on you than your phone (ok sure, some Internet connection as well) and you can get a translation on the go and super quickly. As a means to just communicate (and therefore practice a language) it is difficult to beat.
1 person has voted this message useful



Expugnator
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Brazil
Joined 3243 days ago

3334 posts - 4349 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, Norwegian, French, English, Italian, Papiamento
Studies: Mandarin, Georgian, Russian

 
 Message 7 of 8
07 December 2015 at 12:35pm | IP Logged 
You can download the Google Translate dictionaries to your phone, though each takes some 200 mb (English
is a preset).
1 person has voted this message useful



jeff_fontaine
Newbie
Canada
learnlanguageso
Joined 1379 days ago

10 posts - 13 votes
Studies: Portuguese

 
 Message 8 of 8
23 December 2015 at 12:43am | IP Logged 
Expugnator wrote:
You can download the Google Translate dictionaries to your phone, though each takes some 200 mb (English
is a preset).


That can be quite useful, I didn't know an offline version existed. Thanks for sharing!


1 person has voted this message useful



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