The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning


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I have 7 months to prepare before I leave. Any tips? Can anyone recommend some effective Russian materials? Great stuff Tim! Great words. Kim and I used your last language post as well as your Pimsleur recommendation to practice our language skills on our mini retirement and last dreamline goal of in Rio for the New Years celebrations. It would be nice to be able to read and write, but a bigger priority is to be able to converse fluently, especially in business situations. On the one hand I realise kanji would help me understand even the spoken the language, on the other, learning kanji I find far more tedious and it would take a longer time to master — but is it essential do you think?

I recommend kanji. Combine the techniques from that book with an SRS, and you can easily learn them a lot faster than traditional methods. Many people learn the in the book in less than a year — it all depends on how consistent you are with your studies. Thanks for this post! I especially like the word list idea and will use it in developing my ESL lessons.

The Vis-ed approach is great for certain languages— the Hebrew ones are terrific since each card gives gives adjective, noun, adverb, and verb variants for a particular root. The Korean ones, however, are full of archaic, obscure, and otherwise infrequently-used vocabulary—and the phonetic transliterations into Latin letters does not match the actual pronunciation of the word. I did French in junior high and high school, majored in Russian in college, did an intensive Hebrew language program in Israel for seven months, and have lived in Korea for almost five years.

At some point or another, I have had conversational fluency in each having gotten rather rusty in each since then. Korean is BY FAR the hardest of them all: it has all the nuance of Chinese pronunciation combined with the sentence structure of Japanese. If anyone wants tips on studying Korean, drop me a line. Thanks in advance! Hey Kate, This is a pretty good free basic Korean course. This Korean alphabet is a better place to start because it includes full audio from a native Korean speaker. Thanks Andrew! I been considering buying the Vis-Ed cards for hebrew.

Any more recommendations for learning hebrew? I live in Taiwan and when I got here my first priority was learning how to read and say food and drink items. I spoke to another guy who learned how to give directions to taxi drivers as his first priority. Second to that, as I teach yoga I learned more chinese from yoga books written in chinese that had been translated from english and I translated back to english to figure out the terminology that I needed. I also study tai ji and that was another source of language learning matierial.

One other thing that helped me is that I am interested in chinese calligraphy and so learning to write the characters also helped me to recognize them easier. Im Trying to be a spanish speaking rep this june. Now which should I start first? Hey Tim, Great blog. Good to hear that you enjoyed Nikko. I live in Utsunomiya, about 45 minutes from Nikko.

There are many cool places to see and things to do around here. Where can we find information about the most common written and spoken words in languages other than English, say Spanish or German? Thanks so much! I used your previous posts in years past to help me tackle some of the european languages while living in Berlin. This is definitely useful for people who are considering taking up a 2nd language. Learning a new language can be grueling and somehow you just make it look so easy.

Kudos to you. What are your feelings on interactive language learning programs? The Rosetta Stone set for example. Let me know if you can! Very interesting stuff. I learned Spanish in about 3 months but it has taken me more than 5 months to get anywhere with mandarin. The only significant difference that I can see in the experience was the fact that when I learned Spanish I was deeply interested in the content and immersed myself in it.

Time to change my tactics.

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Foreign Languages

On a side note, my boss recently tasked me with a program to teach several hundred native mandarin speakers English so that we can do business in China in English. Any recommendations? Other than that usually after 2 years of daily study you can have simple conversations in Chinese language. Not talking about serious stuff, but simple chit chat. On the other hand usually a Chinese person can learn to speak basic English in 3 months, I mean normal, useful conversation.

Relevancy of the material is vital to adherence. If you read the research of Hakuta or look at anecdotal evidence like mine, adults can learn much, much faster than children by using their native language for associations. If you absolutely love Rosetta Stone and enjoy the CDs, you will eventually learn the language. My brother needs to learn basic English in one month and not sure what method is more effective for him right now given that are many websites offers. I bit the bullet and learned all of the Joyo Kanji and then some when I was studying for 1kyu, and it was absolutely worth it.

Kanji really start to pay dividends when you move on to more advanced vocabulary. The more words you learn, the more you start to get amassed in a sea of homonyms. And before you know it, the language just dissolves into a blurb of same-soundiness in your head. Since Kanji retain actual meaning, it becomes much easier to distinguish which word it is. The standard rote method of memorizing each character individually stroke for stroke is not it. Funny, in my own language learning I was always frustrated that I was force fed English transliteration as a method of learning grammar and new words.

I often found it easier to just think in terms of the native grammar. In my own mind I conceive of language as a serious of modular blocks that connect to each other to create meaning. Once you figure out something like Japanese uses SOV word order, it seems like a gigantic step backwards and a whole lot of extra work to start with an English sentence as reference and transliterate it into Japanese.

Starting from very basic word order, not even advanced grammar. Do you have any suggestions for our particular case?

Also, I always try to do languages exchange with people speaking the language I learn, and learning the language I speak. Thanks for your post. Can you recommend any specifc programs or materials for Japanese, from which we can find one we love? If you have sometime next time, why dont you stop over to my restaurant in Tokyo would be honored to serve you, offcourse if you like Turkish food! You keep on impressing me; I love your style of accomplishing anything with a more time efficient system; you seem to be able to accomplish anything; I am so impressed and have been using your principles in my lifes mission of giving anyone and everyone a simple proven system to not only get the best body of their adult life; but lifestyle and life;.

So that they can be fully engaged and reach their true potential in all the major areas of their life with the most time efficient, results orientated program on the planet. I love to do the same as you; please keep the vision of the better school systems; I would love to see a post on that topic to start to round up your team that may be able to help you. Keep up the great work; You have won me over as a fan, Tim. Darin L. Steen the Chicago Kid. By picking a subject matter, I browse websites and documents that are improtant to me.

Personal motivation goes a long way towards adherence and efficiency. Great content. It is important to remember that learning a language when you are a adult should not take years of theorical studies. Efficiency: The greater the efficiency, the greater the intensity of the learning experience. Massive listening, reading and word review is the most efficient way to learn.

Classes, grammar explanations, Rosetta Stone, and even having conversations before you have much of the language, is not efficient. The classroom is a low intensity language learning environment. Effectiveness: Which I understood to mean focusing on important things first. To me this applies mostly to making sure that the content you are learning from is interesting and meaningful. I would not worry too much about prioritizing words and structures to learn. The brain will figure that out, and shelve the odd low priority word that pops up.

The point is that if you want fluency you need a lot of words, a lot, and you need a lot of input. Adherency: Absolutely important. It is best to stay with interesting content and you will learn, because you will be motivated to continue listening and reading. You cannot learn from boring content. I agree wholeheartedly with Tim. If his previous one about mastering a language in one hour served more to attract the attention of people to the opportunities of learning languages, this article offers more concrete advice for the long haul. I would caution people about the 3 months.

I am a good language learner. I have been studying Russian for over 2 years, and I have a ways to go yet. But it does not matter, I enjoy the process. That is the most important thing. The Michel Thomas and Pimsleur approach appear to be the most interesting. What advice can you offer, as a linguist who has spent 2 years with this language, to learning to read and understanding Russian.

Thank you for any advice you can offer and hopefully you can assist me with any curve balls you wish you had known when you started. Gives you a nice study list to practice. Actually, it would not be very helpful to translate the English word list for use in other languages. Because language is so culturally bound, each language will have a different word frequency list. So… if you are learning English as a second or foreign language, then by all means make use of the list of most common words in English.

It will not be so helpful for learning other languages. Here are the results:. Shared words: 57 Of the shared words, 46 were unique. Of the shared words, seven appeared twice. Of the shared words, two appeared three times. Most remarkable, of the shared words, three appeared in the exact same position of frequency: positions 1, 27 and Both lists were based on written frequency.

Another important consideration is that both Modern English and Yiddish have a common ancestor in Middle German. This shared origin may help to explain some of the high proportion of shared words. However, when faced with less commonly used languages, such as Yiddish, finding a list of frequently used words, even when compiled from a mechanically translated English frequency list, may not be the worst idea for self-learners. Shared words: 55 Unshared words: 44 This totals 99, I know. It is a shared word of the two lists and so I removed the duplicate from the total.

Otherwise, the shared words would total Interesting that it is so close to the earlier ratio of Yiddish to English shared frequency words. Here are those results:. I am making these comparisons out of curiosity and I think Kiki is right to be cautionary about generating these frequency lists from mechanically translated English alone. As a teacher of Yiddish as a second language, I have never warmed to mechanical translation.

The idiomatic and collocated phrases of language give richness and meaning more easily finessed by people than software programs at present. Also, idioms and collocations have never been sufficiently documented for the number of languages people are interested in learning. Thus, immersion within the native country of a language remains the fall back recommendation for rapid successful acquisition for committed learners such as Tim. But based on this initial comparison of lists, mechanical translation of English frequency may have some value for language learning if approached knowledgably regarding its limitations.

Tim, your writing style seems great for getting applause, but it clutters your message. Listen to yourself — quote:. Fair enough, F. The first version of this was written about two years ago, long before I adopted a more comfortable tone. The next will be more conversational. I totally agree that learning the Japanese language without learning kanji alongside your vocab will hamstring you later in your studies. It is also a cultural thing. Here again, Tim is right on. Learning the basics of kanji, the radicals, and the reasons for them will go a long way than rote memorization methods of the 70s.

BTW, Leeds University has produced large frequency lists, running to many thousands of words, of several major languages based on a variety of corpora. Still would like to know Tim what you recommend then as the best materials for learning Spanish I had been told Rosetta Stone as well. Or would you just say get the word list and learn some basic grammar and practice?

Wanna get that materials thing right and then go for it. I want to get to proficiency at the ability to teach in Spanish.


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Sorry to ask what a totally unrelated question, but something has been bothering me for a long time and I was wondering if you might be able to help. I recently quit my job at a fairly secure financial firm yes, I did just put the words secure and financial together because I realized that it was not meant for me. I now have my own website that presents eco-innovations and tips on how to recycle stuff creatively. It is my dream to be able to live off of my writing and I love talking to people about it…with strangers.

Some people have told me to find new friends, but I feel the issue is within myself, and that I can somehow make the change I want to see happen. Any thoughts? First, this advice applies to every skill, not just language. It took me four years of high school to learn Spanish because I was in the US. It took me two months to become just as fluent in Italian when I was living it Italy. And finding the Interest will be easier because you can easily seek out your Italian-speaking judo schools or whatever.

Ewan Sinclair: mnemosyne is an option for spaced recall. This worked well for knocking gender into my subconscience — I found I started to visualise the nouns as different colours when writing. When I was playing around with ancient greek I extended this to using colour with tense for memorising the basic forms of verbs.

In three years of studying mainly on my own I have gone from basically scratch to having just read my second German novel Treffen sic zwei by Iris Hanika. Tim, Glad to see you considered my comment! Even though I think you got it, allow me to clarify. See this as constructive criticism from a reader who is really interested in what you write and eager to apply it — but who finds that an overabundance of 1. Think of a soccer game broadcast on TV; just as someone is about to score, electricity falls out. We all have various learning styles, it happens.

Also, to answer your question, I would tell my friends to apply effectiveness, adherence, and efficiency to create a realistic learning model for a new language. The trick is to find success with a set of proven fundamental models to get the most out of our creativity. And that is exactly what Tim has demonstrated. Great job Tim! I have always struggled with foreign languages but this post give me a renewed motivation to finally give it another stab. Something that might interest you: A couple of college kids talk themselves into a conference and ask Branson to fly them to DC, they went to DC with Branson on his private jet a few hours later.

Some additional resources: I found the most frequent words in the correct order : from the Brown Corpus googling for brown corpus wfk2. These lists are also good for testing purposes. The fact that you spoke Japanese on your pilot and made absolutely NO reference to your own linguistic abilities was deeply cool. One idea came to me while reading this post and its comments: what if we collect hundred most frequent words and combine learning them by rosetta stone method?

I used to learn words a day using Rosetta, and those will be devoured easily…. With those properly learned words and basic grammar one can do everything in different country but teach…. Using method how to define most frequent words, it will be useful to have it for every language…. I have also recently started learning Japanese. I currently use simplified characters when chatting with friends, because I hang out with mostly Chinese Mainlanders, but I know that Kanji and traditional hanzi are written just about the same.

Thanks a lot! I use similar methods in teaching at North Carolina Central University. One of my courses is Statistics and I use many non-traditional techniques to inspire and capture my students attention this led me to author a non-traditional Stat book to aid in student learning and comprehension. I have found however, that collaboration is the greatest teaching method. Similar to your judo experiences, I dare to say that the collaboration between you and your Japanese colleagues greatly aided in your level of interest, intensity to learn, motivation, will to compete, and coherence of the material.

If you add this factor one of interpersonal interaction and collaboration to your 3 initial components I believe that you will find that your instructional methodology is even more effective. Great Article! Works in all alphabetical language. Count frequency of word in any given text. I listened to one of your videos.

You discussed Public School System and requested contacts. I am highly interested in what you would plan. I work in schools as a speech-language pathologist. I love reform and change… So I am interested learning more about your ideas. Master simplified and learning traditional and kanji will be so much easier. The more characters you learn the easier it is to learn additional characters. The tricky problem with learning Chinese and Japanese is making sure you correctly pronounce the character using the right language.

You might find yourself reading a Japanese text and every time you see a character you pronounce the Mandarin instead of Japanese. This can make reading very interesting!


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It has Cyrillic and Latin spellings of words. It may help you out with some simple stuff quickly. Post reading time: 15 minutes. Some background on my language obsession, from an earlier post on learning outside of classes : From the academic environments of Princeton University Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian and the Middlebury Language Schools Japanese , to the disappointing results observed as a curriculum designer at Berlitz International Japanese, English , I have sought for more than 10 years to answer a simple question: why do most language classes simply not work?

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The ideal system — and progression — is based on three elements in this order… 1. Finding the Perfect Office Chair: Aeron vs. Swiss Ball vs. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:. Email required Address never made public. Name required. Regards, Nick Like Liked by 2 people. Thanks, Bman Like Liked by 2 people. Just my take, thanks. Anne, Thanks for the comment. I really agree with your point of view,looking for more! I want to try that book now: Thanks Like Like. There are many reason to learn a dead language.

Cheers, Adam Like Like. Hey Adam, This is a great goal and although it is from several years ago I would highly recommend busuu. Can I learn other languages through this site? Tim, glad you linked to the digital crib video. Enjoyed it, rated it, commented on it. James Bressi Like Like. An attractive teacher will definitely help with Item 2. Not politically correct, but too bad. Great post Tim, I always enjoy a good post on learning a new skill. Hey Tim, Thanks for your reply and advice.

It will take quite a time to review it and tell you a proper thanks for that… To tell you the truth, my friends and your russian fans said that your book is like a Bible for Entrepreneurs for the people in their s. I am 31 myself, live with my girlfriend, and I am always thinking which bachelor things I want to keep no matter what influences marriage and kids can bring on me, and very interesting if you thought of that and have any answers for yourself… Thanks for what you are doing, sincerely, Vadim.

Tim, I have now established two of your posts into my everyday life. Thanks for the ideas. Hey Tim, Great words. Hi Tim, I have a question specifically about Japanese study. Should I bother with Kanji, if so, to what degree? H Roark, I recommend kanji.

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So, in short: yes, I would recommend learning to read kanji. Good luck! Tim Like Like. But that explanation increasingly appears to be inadequate, since studies have shown that bilinguals perform better than monolinguals even at tasks that do not require inhibition, like threading a line through an ascending series of numbers scattered randomly on a page. The key difference between bilinguals and monolinguals may be more basic: a heightened ability to monitor the environment. Costa and his colleagues found that the bilingual subjects not only performed better, but they also did so with less activity in parts of the brain involved in monitoring, indicating that they were more efficient at it.

The bilingual experience appears to influence the brain from infancy to old age and there is reason to believe that it may also apply to those who learn a second language later in life. In a study led by Agnes Kovacs of the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, 7-month-old babies exposed to two languages from birth were compared with peers raised with one language. In an initial set of trials, the infants were presented with an audio cue and then shown a puppet on one side of a screen.

Both infant groups learned to look at that side of the screen in anticipation of the puppet. But in a later set of trials, when the puppet began appearing on the opposite side of the screen, the babies exposed to a bilingual environment quickly learned to switch their anticipatory gaze in the new direction while the other babies did not. Nobody ever doubted the power of language. But who would have imagined that the words we hear and the sentences we speak might be leaving such a deep imprint? The Gray Matter column on bilingualism last Sunday misspelled the name of a university in Spain.

It is Pompeu Fabra, not Pompea Fabra. Tell us what you think. Please upgrade your browser. See next articles. Newsletter Sign Up Continue reading the main story Please verify you're not a robot by clicking the box. Invalid email address. Please re-enter. You must select a newsletter to subscribe to. Sign Up. You will receive emails containing news content , updates and promotions from The New York Times. You may opt-out at any time.

The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning
The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning
The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning
The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning
The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning
The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning
The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning
The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning
The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning The world brain : a short guide to fast language learning

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