So, this post shares some techniques for learning a new language, from a TED talk by a woman who speaks 8 languages and counting… Lydia Machova likes to learn a new language every two years, and loves the feeling of reaching a level where she can “use the language freely and fluently to express anything.” Her infectious enthusiasm for language is apparent throughout her talk, and she describes herself as a language mentor: “I help people learn languages by themselves”.
The talk shares the secrets of polyglots, people who speak a number of languages, and is about 11 minutes long.
We are no geniuses and we have no shortcut to learning languages. We simply found ways how to enjoy the process, how to turn language learning from a boring school subject into a pleasant activity which you don't mind doing every day.”
Lydia shares four principles for learning new languages:
1) Find enjoyment in the process of learning languages – see some ideas for making learning fun later in this post
2) Use effective methods to retain words in your long-term memory by revising them repeatedly – her talk shares some examples of methods commonly used such as spaced repetition and the Goldlist method
3) Create a system for your learning such that it becomes part of your everyday life e.g. set aside specific time to revise vocabulary or listen to a podcast
4) Appreciate the motivation small successes bring and be patient with yourself: Lydia warns that “it's not possible to learn a language within two months, but it's definitely possible to make a visible improvement in two months, if you learn in small chunks every day in a way that you enjoy.”
Find effective methods which you can use systematically over the period of some time in a way which you enjoy, and this is how polyglots learn languages within months, not years.”
Her talk is also full of ideas of how to make learning a language fun. By nature, this is very personal, and depends on what you enjoy, your personality, and your hobbies. Some examples, including the personal methods of some of the polyglots Lydia has met:
Have you found any additional techniques useful in learning new languages? Please let us know.