Foreign Language Learning

Foreign Language Learning

Today’s world has grown much smaller. Many people are learning second languages for travel reasons or to help in securing a job. Never before has foreign language learning been so popular. The big question is what is the best way to learn a language? Of course everyone wants the fastest easiest way to learn.

The first thing to realize is that if you already know a language you understand how language works and all you need to do is learn substitute words in the new language you want to speak.

Consider that when you learned your first language as a child you made mistakes. You did not hear the words accurately as they were spoken so you did not pronounce them correctly. This will be true in learning a second language. You confused sounds that were similar with words that have very different meanings. This will also be part of your learning curve for a new language.

Another aspect of foreign language learning is writing and reading. If you speak English and want to learn Spanish it will not be difficult to learn how Spanish uses the alphabet because it is almost the same as English. Now if you want to learn Mandarin Chinese and read and write in you will have to learn over 2000 characters of letters. This is a big challenge. Another way to deal with the problem is to see the Chinese words spelled out phonetically in English. You already know the rules of English and how to make sounds from the letters so this can be a real time saver.

Foreign language learning of the Asian languages adds another aspect to language learning that many languages don’t have. Asian languages use tones. You can have many words that sound the same to the untrained ear but have totally different meanings. For example in the Thai language “mah” with a constant tone or no change means “come.” “Mah” with a rising tone at the end like asking a question means “dog.” Some languages like Mandarin Chinese use tones that rise and fall in the same syllable. Many people know that hello in Chinese is “nee how.” The real way to say it is to say “nee” with a tone that falls then rises or wavers and the same for “how.” This is where you have to train your ears to hear the same as when you learned English as a child. It is not difficult but it is different.

Many English speakers feel that grammar is important. Grammar is not important to communication in foreign language learning. If you speak “my house” or “house my” either way you will be understood. You will be surprised to learn how simply other languages are spoken. Redundant words like “a” or “the” are not used. What is the real difference between saying “a car” and “the car” when you speak “car”?

Do you want to learn Spanish, Mandarin Chinese or Thai? Visit our new online language learning site. Or sign up now and give it a try, let us know how it goes.

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3 Responses to Foreign Language Learning

  1. Saying that grammar is not important is possibly true if you are a beginner, however without an understanding of structure the level you will achieve is severely limited. That does not mean you need to study grammar. It means you have to pay attention to how people speak, what they write and then you will be able to piece together how the language works.
    Some grammar study can be helpful, but too often it turns people off, rather than on! :-)
    If you would like a free ebook on what mistakes to avoid in learning languages, go to http://languagelearningunlocked.com. You will have to answer a few simple questions in exchange to help me with a book I am writing on language learning.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for your comments and thanks for the guest post “Can we all be great language learners?”

    • Bakardo says:

      It’s the same for me!i was born in Albania, but i moved to France when i was 3 (and then Switzerland). my parents never sent me to alnbaian school (yes, it exists here), and now they are annoyed because i can’t speak alnbaian, or even understand it. They always say i should take the time to learn it, but engineering school takes up too much time for that. besides, to be honest, i’m not very interested in it. what is their deal? if they wanted me to know my native language , they could have spoken to me in alnbaian at home, instead of french. like i had any say in this, at the age of three! it’s kind of pointless to reproach this to me now.it’s true that like you, i don’t feel included in my family, or at least, one part of my family. the good side to being alnbaian is that your family is spread all over the world, and there’s always someone who speaks at least one language you know. good for me, my mother’s family lives in the us, and speaks english

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