Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to KNOW a Language not Just Learn a Language Part 2

You can read part 1 here.

As you could see from part one this is an in depth language learning strategy. One with no frills and a lot of commitment. It’s not for everyone, but it’s the one I follow to reach my goals. I do believe you can get a lot from self-study and that’s what this program, for the most part is. I do however, think you should seek out conversation times with others who speak the language to practice some of what you’ve learnt and to practice common colloquial phrases. Part one was really just there to introduce you to the sounds and give you some speaking practice right away, while at the same time giving you an intro to the grammar you’ll be getting in depth with in the future. The second part is where we start getting really serious. The recommendations here should be followed pretty closely, there’s no fudging here. By finishing certain things in step one you open yourself up to more serious things in step two.

First though lets go over some quick notes with step one. If the language has multiple Pimsleur parts, go ahead and get through them all if you’d like. Pimsleur again is really just something you’re doing in the shower or while washing the dishes, but it couldn’t hurt to do the lessons when you’re getting other things done. Also, and reading the grammar are perpetual, meaning you keep doing them. When you’ve finished the grammar book, start it over and continue to refer to it whenever you need it. It makes great bathroom material.

I know this stuff is expensive and I know some people just download these programs, but I recommend buying them though, because these people have worked hard to make these tools. The last note: Stay balanced, you want to do about an hour a day but make sure you’re not doing one thing way more than everything else.

Let’s get started.

The First Workbook Step 2 Part 1

After you’ve got through twenty to thirty percent of the grammar book, you can buy a work book. I prefer to buy something a little lighter. We don’t want the difficult grammar workbook yet. Normally, for workbook number one I look for something with a lot of vocabulary, some dialogues on CD and some light grammar. We’re trying to supplement your conversation skills and ease into the grammar. I recommend something from the Teach Yourself Series.

The Second Workbook Step 2 Part 2
After you’re about 20 percent done with the first book it’s time to find yourself another workbook. Your best bet is to find something that specifically sells itself as a grammar workbook. Sometimes this means buying a college textbook, sometimes it doesn’t. Once it's been bought, dive into it, refer back to your grammar book as much as you need to.

Assimil Series Step 2 Part 3
The Assimil series is your best tool to really know the language. I would start Assimil after finishing the first level of Pimsleur. The problem with it, is that it’s mostly for language learners from France. If you’re language doesn’t have an English version it’s no problem, we can easily adapt it. Assimil, when it’s time to start is something you do EVERYDAY. The other things you need to just keep balanced, finding time in the shower, or while on the toilet. Assimil though: EVERYDAY. If at this point you can devote two hours a day on your new language you’ll be in the best position. One full hour of Assimil and another hour with the other tools.

If you were able to buy an English version then go ahead and follow the course, do the exercises and follow the ‘layered strategy’ I describe below. If you get stuck with the course for French native speakers, you’re going to have to sit with a dictionary and your grammar book to figure out what’s happening and why it’s happening. After translating and understanding the grammar it’s time to shadow.

Shadowing is done in 15 minute bursts. The super polyglot who moderates this


is more or less the creator of the system of shadowing. Here’s basically what it entails, you walk at a fast pace in the woods or in your home and you listen to the dialogues through earphones the whole time, repeating what is said out loud. At first you shouldn’t hold up the text, you want to try to get it down without it and after a few tries without the text start periodically shadowing while reading the text out loud. That’s the gist of shadowing, it sounds stupid but with Assimil’s dialogues, which are short but contain a lot of new grammar and vocabulary, it’s helped me greatly. Also, you can’t argue with the guy who developed it, he knows give or take 20 languages.

Assimil needs to be used in a layered fashion, meaning do a new lesson everyday, repeat yesterday’s lesson, do a dictation of the lesson from seven days ago, shadow the lesson from 21 days ago, and dictate the lesson from 28 days ago. I like to shadow a random lesson every other day, whether it’s new or not, to keep me on my toes. If you decide to do a random lesson periodically and it’s old don't worry it’s okay you get extra practice and then if it’s new that’s okay too, you get to get a feel for the language and some of its sounds without having your nose in a dictionary.

So that’s the second layer of steps. The stuff here should keep you busy for up to a year, but keep at it! Keep charts and keep track of your progress, not only in language learning but in everything involving becoming a polymath. I’ll post something here after this language tutorial is done about keeping charts and some of the strategies I’m employing.

No comments: