Derek Sivers

The Way of the Linguist - by Steve Kaufmann

The Way of the Linguist - by Steve Kaufmann

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Written by someone who has learned many languages, he shares his story and advice. Useful recommendations.

my notes

It was only when I had a genuine desire to communicate or learn something meaningful in a new language that I was able to learn.

Your studies will be much more enjoyable and effective if you read or listen to aspects of the new culture that attract you or subjects that you need to learn about. Seeking out meaningful content is your first step.

To continue to progress in language learning you just need to listen, read, and learn words and phrases every day. It is that simple.

Concentrate on learning the language from content that matters to you and interests you.

Pursue your own needs and interests, rather than an externally imposed program.

If you control your learning, you will learn faster.

Pasqua once said that when an immigrant arrives in France his ancestors become the Gauls.

At least symbolically, as a human being, I consider all ancient people as my ancestors. I can choose to partake of any of the traditions and cultures I see around me if I make the effort to learn them ...
... to make this previously unknown culture a part of me, to explore my human heritage.

Let go of the security of your native language and culture and broaden your identity. Imitate how they act, engage in play-acting. Have fun and pretend that you are what you are not.

Visualize yourself pronouncing like a native speaker and thinking in the language.

Measure your input and measure your output to make sure you are on course to achieve your objective.

You can only absorb the language through massive input. Focus on input first.

Until you are fairly comfortable in the language, correct grammar should be a secondary consideration.

Choose short items of a few lines. Later of two to five minutes in length. Listen to the same content over and over.

The subject should be of interest, the voices pleasing to you, and the level not too difficult.

Get in the habit of listening frequently: in the morning, during the day and in the evening.

When you first listen, only get used to the sounds and the rhythm.
Do not worry if you do not understand all of it.
Listen a few times without reading the text.
Then read the text carefully, look up new words in an online dictionary, and save new words and phrases to a list for later review.

Focus on a small amount of content and get used to it, rather than trying to listen to constantly changing content.

Let the phrases ring in your mind even after you stop listening. Repeat certain phrases out loud.

Imitate the correct pronunciation.

Reading a lot is essential. Seek out the audio version.

Decide which words and phrases will be most useful to you.

Phrases can be any group of two or more words that are useful for you to express yourself.

Make these phrases a part of your daily language.

The systematic learning of phrases is the most effective way to learn to express yourself accurately in a new language.

Focus your efforts on phrases as the essential building blocks of language.

First absorb the language by listening, reading and learning vocabulary. These activities will always account for about three quarters of your effort.

But also allocate some time to work on your skills of expression: pronunciation, writing and conversation.

Pronunciation should be a major area of emphasis from the beginning.

READ sentences and paragraphs out loud, first very slowly and then more quickly, and always in a loud voice. Exaggerate.

RECORD your own pronunciation and compare it to a native speaker.

Learning whole phrases will also help establish correct habits with regard to verb tenses, prepositions and vocabulary.

Heinrich Schliemann was able to express his thoughts orally and in writing after about six weeks of self-study.
His method consisted of “reading a great deal aloud without making a translation, taking a lesson every day, constantly writing essays upon subjects of interest, correcting these under the supervision of a teacher, learning them by heart, and repeating in the next lesson what was corrected on the previous day.”

Make weekly lists of new words and phrases from your learning and deliberately try to use them.

You need to overwork the language processing capability of your brain by constant and frequent repetition during a period of intense learning. This period may vary from three months to twelve months.

Fluency cannot be attained without sweat forming on your brow.

The greater the efficiency of the training methods the more intense the learning experience, and therefore the better the results.

The more you can study on your own, the more you control what you are studying, and the more you follow your interests and inclinations, the faster you will learn.

Measure how much time you have spent on different activities of the “engine” of language learning every day.
How many words did you read every day?
How many words and phrases have you saved for learning?
How many words do you know in total?