Language Learning Tips from Polygots
- August 7, 2019
- Posted by: Tseg Mulugeta
- Category: Hacks from Polygots
A polygot is someone who speaks multiple languages. Below are language learning tips from some of the world’s best language learners. The polygots who contributed to this list speak an impressive amount of languages. Simon Igor for example speaks an astounding 22 languages: English, French, Welsh, Irish, German, Japanese, Scottish Gaelic, Spanish, Manx Gaelic, Esperanto, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Italian, Portuguese, Czech, Russian, Breton, Dutch, British Sign Language (BSL), Cornish, Swedish and Toki Pona.
1. Study Regularly
The first thing to realize when learning a new language is that regular, consistent study is the key to getting results. Studying 15 minutes everyday is far more effective than studying for 2 or more hours one day a week. You’ll go through periods where you lose motivation, or struggle to find the time to study, and that’s okay. What’s important is that stick with it and try to carve out some time every single day to study.
2. Speak and Listen to the Language As Much As Possible.
Starting speaking as soon as possible. Speak for an hour with no English at all. It’s normal to feel timid about your speaking capability when you’re a beginner but it’s important to realize that you will only get good at speaking by speaking – not by waiting until you’re ready. Use what you know and find a way to speak around the words that you don’t know. Don’t wait for perfection! Find a language partner or tutor and schedule regular sessions. I find 3-4 times a week ideal.
Listening to the radio or TV is also useful but it’s recommended that you listen to dialogue as opposed to songs since it allows you to learn how people talk.
3. Use Content that You Like.
You are not going to learn a language by just reading grammar books. Read and listen to content that is highly interesting for you, and everything will be easier for you.
4. Learn Useful Words and Phrases.
There is a ton a vocabulary and grammar to learn in any new language, so make sure you don’t waste your time and energy learning things you won’t use. What do you talk about on a day to day basis? Learn those things. Learn words and phrases related to your interests and your needs.
Just because you CAN learn the words for twenty different zoo animals doesn’t mean you should.
Languages contain hundreds of thousands of words but only a fraction of them are used on a daily basis by native speakers and only a fraction of those are words that you need for your first conversations. I suggest you to learn the following first: the 6W1H (What, Why, Where, Who, When, Which, How) phrases, basic tenses (past, present, future), grammatical structure (SVO or SOV or VOS or others), numbers, day and time, frequently-use verbs, and pronouns (I, you, we, my, your, him, them, etc.)
5. Set Goals
It’s great to say “I want to speak Spanish” but that’s not really a goal – it’s an ambition. Goals are the smaller milestones along the way that help you to make that ambition a reality. A goal for example may be: “Learn 50 Words”.
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