Our motivation is what determines success or failure in language learning. So what motivates us to learn different languages? For myself over the last few years, I can see a variety of different motivations. I am learning Romanian, a language that had not interested me before, simply for the reason that I will be visiting Romania in June. So now I am putting in an hour or two a day into learning Romanian.
I decided to learn Russian because I wanted to read Russian novels in the original. I also wanted to prove my approach to language learning, which focuses less on grammar, would work with Russian. I decided to learn Czech because my parents grew up in Czechoslovakia. I wanted to learn more about the country and it’s history.
I am also motivated to learn languages that are related to languages I already know. I learned Czech after Russian and Portuguese or even Romanian because I know other Romance languages. My reason for learning Korean has many motivations. Yes, it is easier because I already know Chinese and Japanese. But my short-term motivation for learning Korean is my golfing buddy Mr. Choi. Sharing language learning with friends is a great experience. It is a great way to practice and keep you inspired. It’s those initial motivations that get you going in the language. I find that once I start learning a language the motivation becomes to reach fluency. The pleasure of discovering a new language and culture becomes it’s own motivation and reward.
I have been learning Romanian for past three weeks. I can understand newscasts and interviews. I can even speak, although with regular pauses. Never have I progressed so quickly in a language. Of course, Romanian is related to French, Italian, and Spanish, which I already know. But then Portuguese and Italian were not this easy, and I was younger.
The reason is that I now know how to learn. Before we had Romanian at LingQ, I bought Pimsleur Basic. Three days of listening on the way to work and back. I gained a few phrases and broke the ice with the language. Then I went through Teach Yourself for Romanian.
Lately, I have been listening to two things: about 20% of the time have about 150 or so sentences that I have written in English and have translated and recorded in Romaninan via Elance. I then am able to import them into LingQ where I can study and share them. The other 80% of the time consists of listening to and reading content of interest. I have imported anticles in Romanian about Romanian history from Wikipedia into LingQ. Then I discovered Radio Romania. At first I imported a great number of articles into LingQ and listened to the radio broadcasts separately. But then I discovered the podcasts.
I have had them transcribed and study them at LingQ. I have created almost 5,000 LingQs in three weeks. I now know over 10,000 words!
Now, I am able to understand most of the interviews and radio broadcasts in Romanian. I still have a month to go before I visit Romania. The snowball is picking up speed. The more words I know, the more interesting content I can listen to. The more interesting content I listen to and read, the more I see the structures of the language in use, and the more they stick. And the more new words I know, the more I can learn.
This is the fastest I have ever learned a language. It really makes me want to learn more languages. Of course, much depends on how much common vocabulary there is with languages you already know. I may try Dutch or Polish next, or should I attempt Turkish or Arabic. But first I had better complete my Korean project.
I like the grazing approach, nibble on a bit of grammar, then read and listen, and then go back to a bit of grammar. Work with examples, in the grammar book and then from real meaningful context, and above all avoid drills and exercises. Here is a video on the subject.
I am often asked to comment on, or to mention, or to promote, different language related websites. I usually prefer not to do so. However, this dictionary, with a new approach to using context, or what the linguists call “corpora”, is really quite unique. Have a look. Linguee.fr.
Every year I travel with my family to Big White for skiing and even some evening time hockey in the open air. Almost all of the cabins and apartments are on the hill, so that it is truly a “ski in ski out” resort.
We have been doing this for almost 10 years, and now my oldest granddaughter, Annie is 15. She is interested in photography. Here are some pictures she took. I hope you enjoy them.
Students take 14 years to pay back their student loans according to this Financial Post article, and that is after the tax-payer has paid for the larget part of the tuition fees. How efficient are universities at delivering their knowledge? If students were given the opportunity to acquire their degree by being tested on what they knew and could do, and if they were encouraged to acquire their knowledge wherever and however they wanted, how many would choose to take on 14 years of debt? I would certainly explore other ways of acquiring the necessary knowledge.
In a comment to a previous post, Stefan asked me how many words I thought I could learn in a day. We had quite a discussion on this, and I have given it some more thought. If I take my own Czech studies, I have been at it about 6 months. It is all…
Can we even learn the basics first? I find that I cannot do it. I just forge ahead and learn words and get used to the language? I think we need to cover a lot of ground, some new, some old. We need to explore new things, pushing the boundaries, w…
Today was an eventful day, in a way. I played hockey this morning and we lost. Then I stopped for a dim sum brunch on my way back home. Once home I was able to leave my hockey equipment out in the sun to dry, since we play again tomorrow and the n…