24 April 2010

Expert Language Learning Techniques

Technique #1: 10,000 Sentences

Use computer-based flashcards to learn vocabulary and grammar. But instead of memorizing individual words, memorize entire sentences. The goal is to memorize 10,000 sentences, hence it is called the 10,000 Sentences Method. By learning entire sentences, recall is improved and you learn words in context so you can use them later.

Finding Sentences

You need places to find sentences. Look for sentences in any place you experience the language: film subtitles, books, news websites, etc.

Creating Good Flashcards

It's important to learn how to choose good sentences to make your flashcards. See Making Sentence Items (Antimoon.com) for simple advice on how to do this.

Flashcard Software

Use a computer program which uses a spaced repetition algorithm.  Spaced repetition software ensures that you see each card at the right time to help you remember it most efficiently. Any spaced repetition system will do, but I use Anki. Anki is a great program that is cross-platform and supports synchronization over the internet.

Tips for Studying
Additional Information
Technique #2: Shadowing

Use Assimil, Linguaphone, or a similar course. See Professor Alexander Arguelles' Foreign Language Study.

Technique #3: Scriptorium

Use Assimil, Linguaphone, or a similar course. See Professor Alexander Arguelles' Foreign Language Study.

Technique #4: Listening-Reading Method

Listen to an audio recording of a book while simultaneously reading the text of the recording aloud. Optimally, you will also have a translation of the text to refer back to immediately.  Even better, is to have the texts in parallel.

Materials needed:
  • Audio recording in target language (L2) of a book (novels are best)
  • Text of the book in L2
  • Text of the book in L1 (a translation from L2)
  1. Read the L1 text. This ensures that you understand the story.
  2. Listen to the L2 audio while reading the L2 text.  This gets you used to the speed of talking and helps you learn to hear the word boundaries
  3. Read the L1 text while listening to the L2 audio. Refer back to L2 text when necessary.  Do this from the beginning to the end of the story three times.  This is where learning takes place.
  4. Repeat after the recording as many times as necessary to become fluent.
  5. Translate the L1 text to L2 in writing... use the L2 text to crosscheck your work.
Additional Information:
Technique #5: Positive Reinforcement

Keep a log of all your language studies and award yourself points for studying every day and deduct points when you miss studying for a day. When you reach a certain number of points, you can reward yourself by buying an album of music in the language you are learning, a book in your language, or something else fun that is related to your language.

Technique #6: Cultural Immersion

  • Podcasts and Radio
  • Television and Online Video
  • Books
  • Monolingual Dictionaries
  • Websites (Gmail, Facebook, etc.)
  • News
Additional Information:
  • Khatzumoto is the king at cultural immersion. He learned Japanese fluently in a year by completely immersing himself in everything Japanese: film, video games, books, television, the internet, and more. His website is full of great advice: Guide to All Japanese All The Time.

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