Hahaha, first off let me start by saying “nice try” to all of the language learner’s looking for a cut corner method to learn their target language by next week. That is without a doubt, impossible – I’m deeply sorry to inform you’ll of that. However, there is a way in which you can optimize your learning methods to increase effectivity and production.
Cut Out Distractions – Learning a language takes incredible precision and focus. You are literally telling your brain to encode another system of communication so that you can use it long-term. The last thing you need is Netflix running in the background of your Duolingo profile! By minimizing the number of distractions, you also lessen the number of mistakes and frustrations to be made during your study time!
Talk To Your Fellow Language Learners – A huge part of language learning is communication, especially if you’re in a group that is learning the same language as you. Each of you may have your own individual problems, but collectively you’ll be able to solve nearly any grammatical riddle and support each other holistically. You are not in the struggle alone, ever. Millions, even billions of people want tot to achieve the same thing you want to achieve so don’t seclude yourself from the rest of the world, learn how to be actively proactive.
Find your interests – Think about what interests you when you’re in your native personality… have you got those things listed down? Now take those same interests and apply it to the personality of the language you are learning. Keep in mind that the average human has an attention span of 45 minutes, so having an interest in a particular niche will guide you through the language learning Journey.
We’ve all done it before…got sidetracked on our language studies only to end up playing hours of Assassins Creed, C.O.D and League of Legends. Let’s face it, we aren’t perfect and we’re only human – boredom is a real thing, and we LOVE to find ways to make up for it.
Whether or not you’re a hardcore, casual or competitive gamer here is 3 ways to learn a language through gaming.
Change your VPN – If you’re playing an MMORPG then chances are that you have the option of selecting multiple servers from around the globe. However, the problem is that a lot of MMO games have their region restricted by geographical location. By using a VPN you’ll be able to bypass the restriction and access your target language’s country – meaning you’ll be able to interact with natives and have a chance to practice your target language.
Subtitles – If you’re accustomed to playing beautiful high def single player stories with glorious dialogue then the subtitle route is for you. If the game you’re playing is really up to standard, in the audio menu it should have the option to not only change the language but also chose whether or not to display subtitles. This is extremely beneficial to languages such as Japanese, Chinese and Korean which use a pictographic alphabet.
Better Yet “No Subtitles” – If you’re really up for a challenge, just turn off the subtitles and set the audio to your target language. There must be a reason you are gaming for hours, right? It could be because the content is just that interesting and engaging. Force yourself to listen to the story behind the game and make notes of things you don’t understand.
You don’t have to game with a sense of guilt, its a fun experience and it should stay that way, but don’t forget that you can always learn MORE!
Slang is without a doubt a major part in language learning, some people call it “colloquialism”, others call it “jargon” – but for simplicity sake, we’re going with “slang” today. Let’s face it, no matter how hard we try to learn a language there are always some things that manage to slip between the cracks. Ever came out of a really intense language class only to hear native speakers of your target language say something you are completely unfamiliar with? You then proceed to search through every dictionary imaginable, only to fail to decipher the meaning…. tragic.
Here are 3 reasons why a language learner (like you) should learn slang.
Don’t be like this guy…it went completely over his head.
Have you ever heard anybody speak with perfect grammar, sentence structure and speech patterns 100% of the time? Think long and hard about it, everybody makes mistakes even in their first tongue. We all grew up in an environment which had a tremendous effect on how we communicate with each other. This is where slang comes in – there are words and phrases for actions and situations that would be otherwise inexpressible if we were to attempt to construct the meaning in perfect grammar.
All languages have something which I like to call a syllabary rate and input frame. What that means is that you have to say a sentence in a certain speed in order to get your meaning across in an efficient way. Languages that have more syllables than average for instance, Japanese will require a much faster output frame in order to string together a coherent thought. Slang dramatically cuts a sentence’s length by reducing the syllabary rate – you can say what you mean in 5 syllables instead of 10.
Here I’ll l give an example in Japanese: 彼女の家に行かなくちゃ ｖｓ 彼女の家に行かなければなりません。 Both translate into “I must go to her house.”. However, the difference lies in the slang usage of the final grammar particle. That’s a difference of 5 syllables! Slang just saved you FIVE WHOLE SYLLABLES.
Outshine Your Friends
Learning a language in a language class is great and all, but one thing a language class lacks is the deliberate teaching of slang terms. You’re not going to go to class one day and learn the impolite, casual way of saying “____must do_____”. Nope, that’s not going to happen- what is going to happen is that you’ll end up sitting in a very structured grammar course in order to drill the proper structure into your head. WHICH IS GREAT! However, most language learners find that when they arrive at the country of their target language they become flustered with the amount of slang being thrown around. Slang helps with this because you become accustomed to the cultural nuances of the language, and it makes you seem MUCH, MUCH, MUCH COOLER than you actually are – not to mention you become a freakin’ Einstein.
Well, you have made it to college in the 21st-century congratulations. Cars are not flying yet but science sure is making some major headway. You wonder if there is any worth in majoring in anything BUT a science. There is a common misconception that every major outside of the sciences is “lesser”. However, that is simply not the case in a world that is quickly approaching a global sense of recognition. Majoring in a foreign language can open a world of possibilities, and if you are wondering what foreign language you should learn, college is the perfect opportunity.
I entered college as a Numerical Computation, Computer Science double major, switching to Art/Computer Science, then switching over to Natural Science… and finally, I settled down with an Asian Studies major with a focus in Japanese. In about my Junior year of college, I decided that I also wanted to major in Japanese. So, with a little bit of schedule adjustments and I had a double major in Asian Studies and Japanese. People always ask me just what in the hell am I planning to do with that. More specifically these three questions:
How are you going to pay your rent?
How are you going to pay your student loans?
Where are, you going to work?
The Reality of Majoring in a Foreign Language
Just for the record, foreign language major jobs are in huge demand…I mean HUGE demand. To give you a quick fact check, the total number of Mandarin Chinese speakers in the world equates to 14.4%. The international value placed on a language is PRICELESS. The globe is quickly becoming more tight nit. The amount inter-cultural exchange that will take place within the next decade will be unprecedented.
20 Foreign Language Job Opportunities
UN Interpreter, UN Editor, UN Translator
Court Room Interpretation (Providing you have some background in the law of course)
Medical Interpretation (Providing you have some background in medicine)
October 2020- 2022: Obtain Master’s Degree in International Communication (Japan)
October 2022-24: Obtain Doctorate’s Degree in International Communication (Japan)
October 2024- 25: Translation / Interpretation School (Japan)
October 2025- 2027: Freelancer Translator/ Interpreter (For Experience)
October 2028 – Join the United Nations as either an Interpreter or Translator for multiple languages (Japanese, Spanish (Mexican), English, Swahili, Mandarin Chinese, French, Portuguese)
With all the jobs listed above, you need to have a pinpoint accuracy and comprehension of the language. There is little to no room for mistakes, as this is your SPECIALTY of course. So, practice, practice, practice and answer your calling!
Here is a video from one of my favorite polyglot channels Langfocus, here he explains just exactly what you can do with a foreign language.
There are advantages and disadvantages regarding learning a language in a classroom versus attempting to pick up a language on your own with independent study. To ensure that you choose the most efficient process for language learning, here are some pointers!
With a classroom experience, you can get the same type of structure that you might be used to from school. There is also a dedicated time slot focused on language learning. If you tend to have problems staying motivated, organized and focused this may prove to be a worthwhile investment. The classroom experience can also make sure that you have the assistance of a teacher. Classroom experiences can often be a more expensive way to learn the language. On the other hand, if you are someone that prefers solo learning or learning at your own pace, it may not be the best idea.
With a solo learning experience, you can use a variety of free materials and applications. These same applications may mimic a classroom experience. Independent study is also incredibly flexible and you can take on a language whenever you have time. There’s no need to wait for a particular language to come up with a course offering at a local college or attend a specific session each week. You can also pick a learning strategy that works best for your mind. For individuals that have problems dedicating time regularly, this may not be the ideal strategy for picking up a new language.
Remember some of these top ideas when you are picking out the ideal way to learn a language for your needs.
Ever wish there was a method for learning kanji that didn’t involve hand cramps and migraines? Well, you’re in luck if you’ve stumbled upon this post…provided you have a bit of imagination. RTK stands for Remembering The Kanji, it is a learning method designed by James Heisig. It’s designed to be a fully loaded series designed to help you memorize all two thousand essential kanji in a short span of time (3 months even!). He preaches that memorization is not about the repetition but rather imagination, so he came up with this unique utilization of mnemonics to introduce different radicals and “memes” to learn kanji.
Putting The Pieces Together
Each kanji introduced is given a unique story based on its radicals, your job is to piece together this story in your head as graphically as possible and keep it with you as long as you live, every time you draw the character for 猿 you, must remember the wild beast cloaked in a yukata standing in the soil, what animal could pull off such a feat? The monkey of course, what else? Heisig holds your hand throughout the first half of the book with his stories but then you have to start making your own, that’s when the going gets tough. The stories will begin to look something like this; animal…soil…clothe. You have to fill in the blanks 🙂
However, since the book is in a series you won’t learn all the kanji components at once. For example, you have to go through the first book first with only English meanings for the kanji in order to get to the second with kunyomi and onyomi pronunciations. If you are an avid learner you can run through both series in a matter of months, but it gets increasingly demotivating as you realize you are only learning the English of said kanji, and you may want to stop, and we all know what happens once you stop anything in a language learning journey …bad …unspeakable things.
Another thing the series doesn’t do is show them in context, in Japanese, there are several words for what you think would be one definition. For example 顔付き (facial expression), here you can see the characters for face and attach…imagine this; in RTK these two characters can be separated by pages and pages of other kanji. You’d be learning kanji and then wondering “I wonder what would happen if I added this to another…?”
*If you are curious as to what learning platform can do this check out WaniKani. ⇑
Overall, RTK does teach you patience and shows you just how fun kanji can be if you’re creative enough that is… I find that the negative reviews on this series usually come from hardcore learners who don’t have the time or patience to comprehend that they are only learning a kanji piece-by-piece and not in its entirety.