Do You Speak Their Language?


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Learning a new language is a skill that often can be helpful.

No matter if it is a programming language or a normal human language.
If you speak it, you might understand a lot more.

But if you don’t know what is your motivation to learn it, you will struggle a lot.

Motivation always asks for the WHY.

WHY should you learn another language?

Since the purpose of each programming language might be different so are aspects of human language as well.

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Some little facts about several languages

  • Human languages have a different focus.
  • Different grammar.
  • Different vocabulary.
  • Different structures.
  • And different ways of using these components.
  • They assemble it differently.

Thai: 
If you speak Thai you have to learn about the male and female particles.
The male has to use the masculine ones.
The female has to use the feminine ones.

Spanish:
If you learn Spanish you have to learn about two different forms of to be.
Be (at the moment) -> estoy cansado
Be (always) -> soy Alemán
And the forms of the adjectives: cansado (masculine), cansada (feminine), determining who says it or to whom is spoken to.

Japanese: If you learn Japanese the language itself might not even be that difficult per se. But the usage makes it different.

Hungarian: If you learn Hungarian and Finnish you will notice that the grammar is very similar, though the languages are completely different.

For example, if you got a girlfriend or will move into another country where a new language is spoken, for sure you have a reason and motivation to learn it.
Maybe you are one of those who struggles a lot learning a new language.
So it is very handy if you get some valuable tips.

Pay attention if you want some helpful advice.

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1. Decide why

Just forcing yourself to learn another language will not work long term. Your gasoline fueled by your motivation will run out.
Impressing someone could fill it to a certain extent but also not for a long time.
If you decide to do so: Stay with your decision.

One very good reason for example is:

If you speak the language of your girlfriend/boyfriend it helps to get to know them on a more personal level.
Because of skills lacking they will not be able to express fully in another language, considering just words.
This is a reason why certain aspects of their personality might not be perceived as they are.
Because they can’t express it fully.
Different usages of language can distort how you perceive them.

If you’ve decided to learn a language take action on it and add it to your self-image.

Do as much until you can say to yourself:

“I am a language learner”

And you feel your subconsciousness does not resist anymore.

2. Just start

Learn consistently. Immerse yourself in the language.
So you’ve committed to learning the language. Use the language.

Take every chance you can to increase your language skills. Listen to the radio, try to understand the lyrics of “El Perdón” (Julio Iglesias) you like so much.
Watch some movies you like in Hungarian, with and without subtitles. If you want to learn that language. Especially if you already know the movie.
You will notice it is much easier then.
Listen to the radio. In Thai or Japanese.
If you got a short wave receiver tune in into a station of the country speaking the language you want to learn.
Read the newspaper in Finnish.

Some languages like Georgian also have different signs, letters you have to learn. For sure it will not be the best advice to try to read Japanese and Chinese first, for example.

Denk dran: Letztlich ist das Beste daran, eine Sprache zu sprechen, mit Leuten ins Gespräch zu kommen. Allein eine simple Unterhaltung führen zu können, ist eine lohnende Erfahrung an sich. Wenn man früh solche Erfolgserlebnisse hat, ist es wesentlich einfacher, motiviert zu bleiben und weiter zu lernen:

„Ich habe immer im Hinterkopf, dass es darum geht, die eigene Denkweise an die Denkweise in der anderen Sprache anzupassen. Natürlich denken nicht alle Spanisch-, Hebräisch- oder Niederländischsprechenden auf die gleiche Art, aber es geht darum, die Sprache als Mittel zu nutzen, um sich eine eigene Sprachwelt zu erschaffen.“

3. Work Together

Search someone as your partner to learn your language.

And learn not only those languages.

Learn the connecting language and the empathic language, too.

If you search for a partner that wants to learn another language too, for example, you might be the native speaker of the language you want to learn.
Someone of Mexico asked me a long time ago if I want to improve or learn Spanish. In return, I helped her learning German.
This keeps your fuel of motivation.

No matter who it is. Search for someone online or make yourself findable. And then you motivate each other. Even if you’re not motivated so much anymore,
your partner might ask you some questions where you have to understand her more.

This is another step to immerse you in that language.

4. Stay focused

If you focus to be able to converse quickly in another language you will not stick to some books teaching you grammar or stuff.
Because when you can talk to people you can also learn about their culture. Keep an open mind and you get much value out of this. Always.
You can speak that language and use it. And if you’re a musician you can write lyrics for your texts in that language, if you’re an author you can try to write a book.
Use that language!

You don’t have to start in a foreign country. Just use the restaurants, bars and locations around you where that language is spoken anyway.
Go there and just start.

5. Have Fun

Do things you would do in your language as well. Create enigmas. Make drawings. If you just can’t think of anything you might have skipped another part.
Look for step 1 and 4 again.hast.

6. Childlike

Did you ever consider learning like a child again?
Childs repeat just what they hear. They don’t get embarrassed about that and it’s a big amount of autocorrecting.
To learn faster watch some children. How do they learn? What keeps you from learning like they do?
Put your embarrassment and proud away and just talk. Who cares if you make 1000 or a million mistakes?
I won’t. 🙂

Speak it aloud. Don’t just say it in your mind. When I found out about that myself, I noticed this does two things:

  • It helps to remember better. (this is an exception if you’re the auditive or visual type or whatever, in this case, it works to the same amount for any type)
  • You practice the pronunciation
  • It might feel weird in the beginning – especially doing this alone – and this is why it takes away some level of embarrassment
  • It helps to increase your active words in that language.

When I found out about that, I could increase my speed in learning tenfold.

Write it down.

make-notes

It is important to take notes.
What I also did is write everything down I didn’t understand but heard again and again and again.

First I heard for example:

“Aquelao.”

I didn’t understand. Was it a sentence or a question? I didn’t know. It was like some expression, but to fluent to split it into separate words.
When I learned more I could distinguish which were the words.

“A que lao?”

And then I could write down. Sometimes it wouldn’t match with the phrases written in a dictionary and google translate may not always be a great help.
But then someone talked slow and I heard:

“A que lado?” (at which side?)

Only now I could write it down AND understand and so I learned more and more.
After three weeks I’ve increased my Spanish skills like crazy.

And when I talked with the human of Mexico again, she said:

“Wow, Holger. What happened? You improved so much. Incredible. How did you do that?”

I’ve immersed myself in Spanish for three weeks.

We learn by masking mistakes. Children are allowed to mistakes. Adults not. This is a big misconception learning languages.
Admit you can’t do it properly right now and take massive action. That’s it.

7. Face the Fear and Do It Anyway

Like Susan Jeffers says.

Feal the Fear and Do it Anyway*

Face some embarrassment and humiliation. Yes. You heard right. It might definitely scare you, but you have to face a little bit of fear to make progress and improve.
You don’t learn if you don’t risk something. At least not above a certain level.
No matter if you want to talk someone, ask for something, telling a story, buy something in a grocery store. Whatever.
You will feel the urge to correct yourself. Accept that you will talk like a little kid first. You just have to start.
Everything is good as long as you try it.

8. Listen

If you want to learn an instrument you have to hear the notes. And to learn to read the notes.
Watch people, listen to them. This is why hearing audio books or listening to another conversation helps a lot.
You can pronounce everything you here. But you have to get used to.

9. Close Up – Watch Their Face

group-talking-foreign-language

Yes. Don’t stare like you’re a serial killer. That will come across very creepy.
But you might be put on the spot. If they ask why you watch thoroughly, tell them.
You want to learn their language, this is why you watch how they move their head, eyes, mouth, lips, throat or jaw.
And then try to imitate. It’s not really difficult.
You need some practice though to master that skill because, for many of you, it will be the first time doing this.
If you can’t find any native speaker watch some movies in the language you want to learn.

10. Creepiness Level Two: Talk To Yourself

Still alone? No movie at your fingertips?
Then let’s practice some self-talk. Yes, you heard right.
Talk to yourself to learn a language.
In front of the mirror, for example.
Yes, it DOES sound strange, but hey, why not? No one is there to judge you and if so, who cares?
And it does something for your confidence as well because you get used to it.

Put your Politeness Away

I don’t mean to start arguing with people you want to learn the language from. No.
I mean don’t think you get on someone nerves because you don’t speak their language very well.

Mostly people will even get excited because you’re trying to speak their language. And happy to talk back.
Maybe the met no native speaker some time as well? Good for them, good for you.
Both sides win.

And don’t run away from certain situations. Immerse yourself in them. Dive in. Deeper. Learn to handle any situation in another language.

Again: Why you should learn another language?

Like Mark Twain said once:

“Nothing helps more to eliminate prejudices and develop yourself and grow as a person than travelling.”

Why did he say that? Because he learned that by experience.

Everything you learn can give you insights about certain things of another person thoughts, epiphanies, cultures and languages.
And even if the languages can be similar you will learn that they have different constructs and require different ways of thinking.
This is even a way to explore your inner self more as a person to grow.

I will definitely learn more languages.

If you speak only one language and I may add English, you didn’t “see” the world yet.

And it even helps at work, because I can spot mistakes in Spanish others won’t find because they don’t speak that language.

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Bonus Advice

There is another advice from Matthias Pöhm (German) I think is very good. And it is a child-like approach in my opinion, too.
He calls it the

Simulgan Technique

It’s similar to simultan(eously).
And the GAN at the end meaning:
GGleichzeitig (at the same time)
AAufnehmen (record)
NNachsprechen (repeat after)
If anyone has an idea how to re-interpret this in English, I’d be very happy for any advice.
How does it work?
If you hear someone talk (Audio Book, TV, Radio) just repeat after. Emulate everything: Intonation, Pronunciation. Everything you can perceive.
You need no additional time to do this. I guess you watch TV and listen to the radio anyway.
When your brain receives these words and those mouth movements and body movements you execute, then it is really recorded into your active vocabulary.
You change your passive vocabulary more and more into an increased active one.
You increase your precision when pronouncing words. And your intonation a lot. Even in one day, the changes are drastic.
You imitate professional speakers. After some time you are able to speak like them.
And you’ve just imitated what they did!
And you don’t need one Cent to be able to do so.
You become faster.
You think faster.
The reaction time your brain needs to compute between listening and speaking skills gets optimized a lot.
This is why you can access your words much faster.
You memorize more of what you repeat “simulganeously” and keep it longer in your brain and active vocabulary.
~Holger
P.S.: Don’t miss out on learning the language of connection and empathy. Stay tuned.

___
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