Language Learning: 4 Important Factors

Inspired by the Canadian program on hyperpolyglots, I decided to make this video.



6 Responses

  1. Thanks! I think that your section on different talents that help learn languages is great. At first I was worried. The notion of language “talent” often dissuades people from learning languages. But since you show that the multiple talents that can contribute to language learning, you are able to present the idea of language-talent while holding back the cop-outs.

    • Even when someone has many talents that facilitate language learning if they don’t have the right state of mind, many opportunities to be exposed to or use the language, or have a good method then that person will not be very successful. Conversely, a person with a personalized method, a great attitude and lots of opportunity and exposure will almost certainly become bilingual, if not learn three or four languages. This is why most people in India and most places in Africa are at least trilingual. Are they ALL talented? Not likely. Thanks for reading!

  2. I think that communication is the point of language. If language-learning is not based on communication, you will not learn it well. This is why folks in multilingual societies, like India and Africa as you mention, have success. They need their languages to get through the market or hang out with their friends.

    Here’s the opposite situation. I just ran into a Japanese guy yesterday–an important corporate-type–who had some very creaky English. He told me that in Japan they have the same problem as the US: languages are from books, not people.

    • Yup! The brain is kind of like a computer with an almost limitless hard drive but somewhat limited RAM. In order to avoid overload the brain selects what is important. The important details are usually easy to recall and the unimportant ones seem to be haphazardly filed away. Using the language regularly signals to the brain that the it is important.

      I also find it easier to learn languages with people. The number one best part about language learning, to me, is making connections with cool people.

  3. Very well done, I especially agree with your first two points about attitude and motivation, those actually matter far more than the things people tend to focus on (techniques, programs, systems, pimsleur or rosetta stone, how many words do I need to know, should I use flashcards, etc. etc.).

    You’re very good on camera, keep up the good work.


  4. I really liked your post. I’m just starting to do research on language learning because I have always wanted to be bilingual but have never had a chance to learn another language coming from my super small town (my high schools study body was only 250 students).

    Anyway not sure if this is the best way to go about it but I wanted to ask you a question. I know that it is easier for children to learn languages than adults. But does our natural talent to pick up on a new language suffer as we get older? I am only 20 years old and I’ve been told that the human brain isn’t fully developed until we reach 25. So does that mean I would be more receptive to a new language at 20 then say one of my friends who is 28 would be?

    I want to learn Greek, I know it is a lot harder to learn than say Spanish or French but I live near a very Greek community and it’s the language I feel most passionate about wanting to learn.

    Thanks for your post and your help!

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