Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Tim Ferriss on Language Learning

Even before reading "The 4 Hour Work Week", I had been keeping up with Tim Ferriss' blog. One topic he touches on from time-to-time that truly interests me is language learning. Today, he explains how to learn (but not master) any language in one hour. At the core, this article is really about how to choose a good target language so that reaching fluency is easier. However, the way he instructs you to break down a language is simple and highly relevant regardless of your suitability for the target language.

So, what does he recommend? He has a series of sentences that he asks a translator to translate for him. They expose important language differences like whether or not verbs are conjugated, how gender is handled, possessive forms, and others. Having learned quite a bit of French and a little bit of Mandarin, I can tell you from my own experience that remembering the basic rules of a language is much easier than learning it through immersion like an infant. So, if you're going to use an immersion product like Rosetta Stone, for example, use Tim's sentences or other resources to figure out the basic rules and save yourself some headaches.



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