Now, if you’re thinking “Hey I have to learn the language before I can use it,” then pay close attention – once you learn a few words and phrases you can still start using them! This is the strategy professed by most omniglots. They got to where they are not by purchasing Rosetta Stone and sitting in their room for two months straight, but they actually used the language they were learning – most often with native speakers if they could.
If you’re looking for some inspiration then I definitely suggest checking out the Speak From Day 1 Language Hacking Guide ebook and course. It’s not technically connected to any specific language – it’s more of a study technique and philosophy that can be applied no matter what language you are trying to learn. It’s written by Benny Lewis, a language enthusiast and omniglot, and speaker on TedX.
His main strategy is to make obtainable, specific goals (such as being able to understand most of what’s spoken in a TV series, or being able to converse at least 20 seconds with a native) and break this down into a plan of action. Usage is his main tool – his mantra is that you must use a language to acquire it. He explains how he doesn’t really pay too much attention to grammar at first. Grammar comes later and is often more easily grasped because by then you’ll be at least a bit familiar with it and it’s not an entirely new concept.
Benny’s enthusiasm rings through each sentence in this ebook, and if this doesn’t set you on the path towards a greater acquisition of any language then I’m not sure what will. This book is an excellent addition to a language learning course such as the Rocket Languages series. The two together would make an excellent team. Even if you have another language learning program this book would benefit you greatly and would probably help you make use of any programs that you already have.
Since reading that ebook and implementing the strategies involved I’ve become a much more able learner. Instead of looking at a language at an enemy to be conquered, with difficulty and strife, you must learn to look on the bright side: see the language as a friend you want to get to know better, with many positive aspects that may make it easier (such as similar sounding words in English).
All in all, the point is that learning a new language doesn’t have to be painful or hard. However, you must actively participate and make the learning of a language less of a want and more of a need. This is something that Benny preaches, and it’s utterly true. If you just “want” to learn a language, that is too vague! However, if you make a goal and you NEED to be able to learn how to buy an ice cream cone – in the language – in two weeks, then you’re well on your way to success.
It’s ideas like these that enable Benny Lewis to learn any language he wants, and it’s how you too can learn any language. Maybe you won’t be able to pass a grammar test, but if you can communicate and understand, then that’s the main goal of a language anyway. Most native speakers don’t care if your grammar is less than perfect – if they can understand you they are thrilled! Think about it – when a foreigner is genuinely trying to communicate in English and gets his point across but speaks in broken grammar, do you get upset? I doubt it.
Anyway, if you want some of the best motivational and practical material on how to learn any language, I definitely suggest Benny Lewis’ Speak From Day 1 Language Hacking Guide.