Why the textbook is only the beginning

In my first two articles I told you about my story how I became a succesful polyglot and how I managed to learn so many languages. I also told you about the so called synaesthesia which enables me keeping grammatical structures and new vocabulary in mind. In this article I will tell you why studying the textbook is not everything. To be honest it is nothing but the start and the first step of your hard work when beginning to learn a new language. Maybe I will first tell you how I begin to learn a new and completely foreign language. The first thing I try to get in a book store or on the internet is a dictionary or phrase book for travellers. I look up the basic nouns, verbs and adjectives. This has two advantages for you. On the one hand you learn the vocabulary and on the other hand step by step you get a feeling for how the grammar of the language works. The more words you know the more you will notice the same endings and grammatical forms. Doing each lesson of the textbook is a training of the vocabulary and the grammatical structure for you. Some of you will need more and some of you less time to get through the textbook. It depends a little on how good you are in learning the grammar, a new prononciation and how well you are able to keep in mind new words and names. It also depends a little on how much time you have at your disposal and how many other commitments you have. Once you got through the textbook the work is not over. On the contrary! I would even claim that this is the beginning of all work. You need to increase your vocabulary and learn such things like the slang or some typical characters of the languages dialects. There are languages like for instance Russian which almost don’t have any dialects. This has to do with the political influences on the language in the former Soviet Union. But there are also languages like German, Italian or Arabic where dialects can differ from each other almost like independent languages. I also recommend you to learn new vocabulary by using visual dictionaries where the vocabulary is separated in different themes. For example one day I learn all vocabulary which has to do with animals, the next day I take medicine, illnesses and parts of the human body and the other day computer and technology. If you meet a native speaker of the language you are learning you should stay in contact with him for example through social media. Native speakers are the best teachers! Furthermore you should use Youtube by watching short soaps and movies in the language. And believe me you will hear many words you already had in your textbook. When I was learning Welsh I have watched some parts of the popular Welsh soap Pobl y Cwm (‘People of the Valley’). And of course I usually listened to Welsh music. My favourite singer from Wales is Ceredwen. Studying Croatian and Serbian I have been listening to former Yugolsavian bands and singers like Bajaga & Instruktori or Lepa Brena. My experience is that through the melody it is easier to remember the lyrics and through the lyrics you learn some new vocabulary but without learning it by heart as you did it geting through the textbook. After the textbook you will have some more work to do … but also some more fun!


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