About LLS:

Throughout my career, I have received thousands of questions regarding languages and I have finally decided to answer them objectively with no strings attached. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave your comments below.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Essential language learning tools!

If you wish to learn English or any other language of your choice, there are some essential tools which I personally find more than helpful. Some of them save me time, whether I am running a busy schedule or waiting for my bus. Those tools come in handy so much that it makes me wonder why I would ever go back to the traditional text book methods.

1- Anki:

It’s free software which allows you to create your own flashcards without much effort. The cool part is that you can set it up to go over the things that you need to review rather than being subjected to downloadable content and pre-prepared sets. Anki can be used in multiple ways; from random shuffles to more ordered displays. Just prepare your sets of flashcards and whenever you feel like doing a review, click start the program and do it. Also available for Android.

Download Anki (for free) from their official website at: http://ankisrs.net/

2- The Rosetta Stone:

I had the chance to stumble upon a very expensive yet clever program which allows you to learn a foreign language without actually using a translator. According to the description on their official website, scientists have designed "Rosetta Stone" based on how newly born babies learn their mother language. After viewing a set of pictures, you are able to guess what every single word and sentence might mean. It’s not always accurate, but it saves you a lot of time you would easily spend glancing inside the dictionary. Don’t expect to find any grammatical explanations there, because apart from teaching vocabulary and useful expressions, there's nothing else.

The Rosetta Stone is very expensive, but can be downloaded (ilegally) from torrent websites at www.piratebay.org or simply bought from their official website: http://www.rosettastone.eu/

3- Pimsleur Audio Tapes:

Pimsleur doesn't offer much more than your typical audio tape recording beside the fact that it covers a lot of the basics step by step while repeating the essentials as you move on. What I like the most about Pimsleur is that they don't throw in random sentences out of the blue. Those audio tapes offer a gradual progression with ample review time in order to make sure that you don't get lost or forget what you have listened to in the first place. They usually start slowly with some useful words and build up on that as you go. By the time you are at your 30th recording, all you have done before will sound boring and repetitive. The downside is that is uses English as your reference language which might not suit non-English speaking individuals. Nevertheless, as far as I remember, some versions could be available in your native language.

From my point of view, Pimsleur is a must when learning languages which have a different alphabet such a Russian, Arabic or Chinese. It often helps to get started with speaking without forcing yourself to go through the long process of learning new symbols from scratch.

More info about the Pimsleur system available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pimsleur_method

The pimsleur system can either be downloaded from torrents at: www.piratebay.org or bought from their official website at: http://www.pimsleur.com/

Stuck in traffic? Use Pimsleur.

4- Your own notebook with essential grammar points:

Instead of buying big grammar books with tons of grammar, go over the main essentials first. Surprisingly, those elements are the same in every language. The only way to truly make a perfect grammar revision booklet is to make it yourself. Take the most essential grammar aspects with examples and compile them into a few pages in order to carry it around with you wherever you go.

I consider the following to be "the essential grammar key elements" for any language. After covering those basics, the sky is the limit. Why those basics? So you can start speaking as soon as possible. 

1- Active Tenses
2- Passive Tenses
3- Elements of Speech (Nouns, Adjectives, Verbs and Adverbs)

4- Modal Verbs
5- Conditionals
6- Articles
7- Nouns (Plural, Singular, Neuter)
8- Relative Clauses
9- Reported Speech
10- Comparatives and Superlatives
11- Word Formation and Word Order
12- Questions

Your own notes will always surpass anything you can buy.

5- A notebook with basic phrases, essential verbs, adverbs, nouns and adjectives:

If you think about it, we can break a language into the following elements. The best part is that there is a limited quantity of those elements unlike nouns and verbs which are endless.

Ask yourself these questions:
  • How many articles and determiners are there? Maybe 20? (The, a, an, many,some)
  • How many prepositions are there? Maybe 30? (in, on, at, under, between)
  • How many adjectives do you need to be able to speak? Maybe 50? (blue, big, quick, nice)
  • How many adverbs do you need to be able to speak? Maybe 50? (tomorrow, yesterday, now, yet)
  • How many personal pronouns are there? Maybe 15? (I, you, he, she, it)
  • How many introductory phrases should you know? Maybe 20? (Goodbye, Farewell, My name is)

How many words should you know in order to speak?

If you exclude nouns and and verbs, you can learn the infrastructure of a language with merely 200 words; add to this more or less 300 basic nouns and 30 basic verbs and you should be able to keep up a basic conversation.

My belief is that the intermediate level can be reached in a matter of months. There is no sense in chasing exotic nouns and verbs in the very beginning. Cover the basics, the infrastructure and gather words left and right as years pass.

Make a list of the following essentials, write them down in your notebook and repeat them wherever you are. Make a habit of carrying it around. As for verbs and nouns, start with the everyday ones without getting too much in dept.


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LanguageLearningShortcuts! by Peter Masalski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://languagelearningshortcuts.blogspot.com/.
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