Learning a Second Language

"You can learn new things at any time in your life if you're willing to be a beginner. If you actually learn to like being a beginner, the whole world opens up to you." - Barbara Sher

Just like to share a tip I am using for language learning. I know a lot of us around the region are trying to make our Chinese, Thai etc more fluent.

Here is the very simple approach I was given by a experienced Chinese teacher, Mrs Chen:

1. Listen

2. Repeat

3. Substitute.

1. Listen

Listen to a native speaker to pick up the accent and pronunciation. This is the "IN" part of learning. TV, tapes, music and other media can all be used to help you get familiar with the language sounds. Set up an environment for you to take in the language.

2. Repeat

Ideally with a native speaker, repeat phrases until your pronunciation is accurate and speed is fast. This can take a while and often many repetitions. Sometimes up to 20 times per phrase! Ouch! But who said learning a language was easy for an adult brain. This is the "OUT" part of learning.

3. Substitute

Here you take the phrase and change words as you say it: "My favourite food is rice" could become "My favourite food is noodles" The idea here is to use the pattern of the phrase while substituting words you may actually need to use in your life. This is the "IN-OUT cycle" part of learning. Actually, after talking with an experienced language trainer, I was told this is the method favoured by Berlitz - a prestigious company with over 100 years of helping language learners.

On the down side, it does involve a lot of repetition but then I am not sure there is a quick way to learn a language. This method can be fun, if you treat it like a game. It does work.

Try it and tell me how you find it.

Jia-YO (Chinese for "Come on!")

Have an inspired day.

Warwick John Fahy is an international speaker, seminar leader, professional speech coach and expert in presentation skills, public speaking and communication skills. You can contact him for more information. This blog was first published on ecademy on 18 April 2005: http://asiapacific.ecademy.com/node.php?id=45277.

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