Translation of an article by Tim Ferris from his blog
(Textbook Judo Okano Isao, which I used to study Japanese grammar)
Learning a language doesn't have to be difficult.
The principles of cognitive neuroscience and time management can be applied to achieve fluency in the language at a conversational level (in this case, defined as 95% + percent of understanding and 100% expressive capabilities) for 1-3 months.
Some tips on my obsessive learning from my previous article on independent language learning
:Starting from the academic environment of Princeton University (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Italian) and Middlebury Language Schools (Japanese) to the disappointing results that I observed while being in charge of the educational process in Berlitz International (Japanese and English), for more than 10 years I’ve I was looking for an answer to a simple question: why do most language lessons simply not work?
The ideal system and process is based on three elements in the following order ...1. Efficiency (Priority)
2. Understanding (Interest)
3. Efficiency (Process)
Efficiency, understanding and effectiveness are, respectively, “what?”, “Why?” And “how?” In learning the chosen language. Simply put, you first decide what to learn based on frequency of use (priority). Then, you filter the material based on the likelihood of continuous use and study (that is, your interest). And finally, you decide how to study this material most effectively.
Now consider each item in detail. This article will focus on vocabulary and subject matter. To study grammar, I suggest you read this short article
. To "reactivate" forgotten languages - for example, Spanish, which you learned in high school - this sequence will look like this.Efficiency:
if you choose the wrong material, then no matter how you learn (if you teach) - in practice, achieving fluency in the language at a conversational level is impossible without the proper tools (material). Teachers depend on the material
, just like cooks depend on recipes.Understanding:
revision and multiple reference to the same material will always bring a monotony, which should be opposed to the interest of the material. Even if you choose the most effective material and training method, if you cannot stick to them, efficiency and effectiveness will mean nothing. In other words, can you stick to the materials and methods you have chosen? If not, less effective materials or methods will still be better. The best approach means nothing if you do not use it.
By analogy, even if a sprint up the side of a hill with a bowling ball in each hand would be the most effective way to lose weight, how long would an ordinary person be able to follow this program?
If you are not interested in politics, can you study the language that focuses on it? Ask yourself: will I be able to work on this material every day and beyond until I reach my goals? If you are in any doubt, change your choice. Most often, the best solution would be to choose materials that coincide with interesting ones in your native language. Do not read anything that you would not read in English if English is your native language (for example, do not read Asahi Shimbun (one of the largest Japanese newspapers) if you do not read newspapers in English). Use your chosen language as a means to learn more about the subject, skills, or cultural field that are of interest to you.
Do not use materials that do not coincide with your interests as a means to learn a language - this will not work.Efficiency:
your training means almost nothing if you use the best materials and diligently adhere to this approach, but at the same time it takes 20 years to achieve fluent language skills. Payback will not satisfy you. Ask yourself: will this method allow me to achieve accurate recognition and memory with the least amount of defects in the shortest period of time? If the answer is no, your method should be reworked or replaced.
An example of efficiency (80/20) in practice.
The Pareto 80/20 principle states that 80% of the results in any endeavor come from 20% of investments, materials or efforts.
We can apply this principle and organize the material based on the recorded probability and frequency of use. It may take 3 months of practical study to understand 95% percent of the language and achieve fluent conversational; reaching a threshold of 98% may require 10 years. This is a point of diminishing results, where it becomes more important for most people to learn more languages (or other skills) than to improve current knowledge of the language by 1% at 5 years.
To see exactly how I am deconstructing the grammar of new languages, I suggest you read "How to learn (but not master perfectly) any language in an hour
Now, the most important thing in communication is words.
If you have studied English (although the list can be applied to most languages), the following English words
will have the highest efficiency per hour spent in the first 1-3 weeks of study:
The 100 most commonly used English words in a letter.
The first 25 words written above make up about a third of all printed material in English. The first 100 contain half of all written material, and the first 300 comprise about 65% of all written material in English. Articles and conjugations of time, which can often be omitted in some languages or studied for recognition (understanding), but not for reproduction.
Lists of frequently used words, presented as “most used words” in English, are erroneous without separation between the written spoken vocabulary. The list of the 100 most frequently used words used in speech is significantly different, and this distinction applies to any language being studied.
100 most pronounced words in English.
- a, an
- (I) can
- (I) come
- either / or
- (I) find
- (I) go
- (I) have
- (I) am
- (I) know
- (I) like
- (I) love
- (I) make
- (I) see
- (I) tell
- thank you
- there is
- (I) think
- (I) use
The individual frequency of words will vary from language to language (especially articles, pronouns and possessive), but the differences mainly relate to the position with the list, rather than the absence or substitution of another term. Surprisingly, the two lists above apply to all popular languages.
The choice of vocabulary in addition to the most frequently used 300-500 words should be dictated by the area of interest. The most relevant questions “What do you do when using this language?”
If necessary, the most appropriate rephrasing will be “What do I spend my time on?”
. And I repeat again - do not read what you would not read in your native language. Use the target language as a means to learn more about the subject, skill or cultural field of interest. Bad stuff will never lead to good language.
Feed your language abilities with food that you like, or you finish your “diet” and stop learning long before you reach at least some significant level of skill.
As a personal example: I used martial arts tutorials to effectively compete in judo competitions, while I was a student in Japan. My main goal was to learn the shots and apply them in competitions. I had a huge motivation to learn the captions for the step-by-step diagrams in each tutorial to avoid pain and confusion. Language development was a far second priority.
Some may assume that the intersection of material with other areas will be minimal, but the grammar is, in general, identical. Vocabulary, can be highly specialized, but I exceeded the grammar skills of students learning Japanese for 4-5 years in just 2 months of study.
My vocabulary specialization was not a communication problem at all. It is important to note that I spent 80% of my free time in training with people who also used the terms Judo and other vocabulary, unique for sports training and athletic development.
As soon as the “backbone” of the grammar is transferred to the long-term memory, vocabulary replenishment will be a simple repetition process, which I will describe in the next post.
For now, don't let tongues scare you.
Original (English): How to Learn Anything in 3 MonthsTranslated by the crowd
If you want to learn more English words, I would pay attention to the excellent mobile program EngCards
. It uses 3,500 of the most frequent words with pictures and voice acting. It is built on the exercises: memorization, dictation and test.