These people know five languages: advice from polyglots on how to master a foreign speech
Pulling up on English for work, learning French from scratch to communicate while traveling, or mastering Chinese as a new hobby is all possible if you have a goal and choose the right learning methods. Edition The Village asked people who are fluent in four or five foreign languages and a few more at a basic level to share effective language learning techniques and useful life hacks.
Ekaterina Pustovit - financial crime expert
Fluent in four foreign languages: English, Polish, French and Turkish; at a basic level knows eleven more, including Spanish, Hebrew and Finnish.
“The first language I started writing in was English. When I was 5 years old, my parents and I moved to Israel, where I studied English. Therefore, the first language that she began to write was English, says Ekaterina. - When I returned to Ukraine at the age of nine, I corrected the mistakes of the teacher, for which I constantly received low marks. In addition, my parents and I lived in the USA (about four years) and in Finland. During this time, I improved my English and learned a little Finnish. However, the second one was much more difficult, because at school we were taught perfect Finnish, which the locals don’t really use.”
She began to study Turkish at the university. The reason for this was academic interest and a boyfriend from Turkey.
“And now I live in Poland and over the past four years I have learned Polish to perfection thanks to courses, as well as independent work,” says the polyglot. “Now I’m getting my doctorate at Lancaster University and I’ve come to the point where I don’t know which language is easier for me to communicate in. In England they think I'm English. When I speak Polish, I do it not with a Ukrainian accent, but with English. At A2 level I speak eleven languages. This is the basic level that helps me communicate with foreigners on everyday topics.”
Good job and decent income
“At work, I get paid extra for knowing foreign languages, so I have the highest income in the crime department where I work,” says Ekaterina.
Before learning any foreign language, in her opinion, you need to:
Set specific goals
“For example, I want to learn French, because it is one of the languages of the European Parliament. I also want to work for a year in Belgium, where this language is very much appreciated. Without a goal, there will be no motivation to move on.
You should not immediately sign up for many language courses, as there is a chance of getting confused and not studying any of them. Better to focus on one or two languages.”
Be disciplined and systematic
“It is very important not to take long breaks in learning the language and practice systematically. Best of all, one hour a day three times a week. On other days, set aside fifteen minutes for reading, listening to podcasts, or watching the news.
However, it is not necessary to set yourself the goal of passing the A1 level in a week, and getting A2 next Tuesday. Because in fact there is no exact distribution into levels, and such goals can only confuse. According to Ekaterina, it is realistic to learn a language in a year, and in a month you can master only basic knowledge.”
Don't Focus on the Rules
“Often there are more exceptions than the rules themselves. For example, an unreadable letter h in English. You can remember the rules before which letters h will be read, but before which - not. However, this is an inefficient method as there are many exceptions that are not subject to this rule. Therefore, you need to focus on speaking in order to remember the pronunciation of words.
Tips for learning languages
“When I studied foreign languages, I identified methods that help me maintain a high level of knowledge. Here is some of them.
Chat with native speakers
The best way out of the situation is to communicate with native speakers. To do this, there are various applications in which you can select languages.
American stand-up comedians joke that the Slavs are rude. In fact, this is not the case, we just learned the language incorrectly.
In addition, you should choose a native speaker tutor who does not speak your first language from the start. Our brain copies the teacher, so if he speaks with a terrible accent, then we will also speak the same way.
Read books in the original language
Reading makes a person think in the language in which the book is written, so it helps not to forget the language and to keep oneself in good shape.
First of all, you need to choose a book of the level that you want to study. You can borrow books that you have already read in your native language to make it easier to understand the topic.
When reading, it is important to highlight incomprehensible words and phrases and immediately look for their meaning. However, you do not need to translate everything into your native language, because each language is special, and the translation does not always show the true meaning of the word.
Watch films and TV shows in a foreign language
The main mistake when watching movies is to watch them with subtitles in your native language. It is much better to include subtitles in a foreign language. Movies and series also choose your level, besides, pay attention to American and British English.
Learn synonyms and phraseological units
Phraseologisms help to diversify our speech. Each language has its own unique phrases that cannot be literally translated, so you should always pay attention to phraseological units.
Think in a foreign language
For us, the word "generous" means that a person can spend his money on others. And in the UK the word generous("generous") indicates that a person, in addition to money, can give you his time. Therefore, in order not to lose the additional meaning of the word, you need to think not in your own language, but in a foreign one.
Listen to podcasts
There are many podcasts for different levels of language proficiency.
Improve your pronunciation
To improve your pronunciation, you need to read aloud. It will be more productive if at the same time listen to its audio version and repeat incomprehensible words. This is how the brain perceives information both audibly and visually.
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Sometimes it is useful to record yourself on a tape recorder. Because it may seem that you have a perfect pronunciation, but in fact it is not.
Anna Kulchinskaya - translator and linguist
Fluent in five foreign languages: English, Spanish, French, German and Polish; knows three more at a basic level: Italian, Portuguese and Romanian.
“My parents work as English teachers, so they instilled in me a love for languages as a child. Already at the age of three, I could speak a little English, and at school I began to be interested in foreign culture, because I wanted to receive information from primary sources, says Anna. - From the seventh grade I studied Spanish and Polish, because I tried to understand why bullfighting is so important for the Spaniards, and what kind of relations existed between Ukraine and Poland. And I learned French, because it is one of the main UN languages.”
The environment did not understand why I was learning so many languages. However, knowing them helps me to go through international volunteering and go to study abroad. I was able to visit Poland several times under the Erasmus+ program and take part in cultural exchanges. Last year I was a simultaneous translator from English at the embassy.”
Language learning tips
Learn a language comprehensively
“A big mistake is to study only grammar or vocabulary. It makes no sense to know a lot of words, but not be able to form a sentence. And it’s just as pointless to study a bunch of grammatical constructions if a person doesn’t know the words.”
You don't have to learn everything from a book
“Everything has to be very balanced, and you shouldn't favor one aspect of the language. It is very important to have a confident command of grammar at the A2 level and to start studying the present, past and future tenses, and then build on the need. If a person just needs to go on vacation and order cocktails, then you should not study, for example, Future in the Past or other difficult times. It’s better to focus on specific vocabulary and a few grammatical structures.”
Start individually, continue in a group, finish on your own
“A very good method of learning a language is to start individually, continue in a group, and finish on your own. When a person is just getting acquainted with a foreign language, he needs individual lessons so that the teacher can develop a special study plan and help with basic grammar. A person with a C1 level needs to learn languages on their own and make great efforts, because tutors and courses will no longer be as effective as they used to be.”
Put up stickers
“It’s easier to remember how “spoon”, “cup” and other used words will be in a foreign language. You can make sentences with new words - this helps to remember them in the early stages. And then, so that the studied expressions do not lie in the passive vocabulary, you should start using them during speech.
It is very important to find your own norm of words that you can learn per day. To do this, you can increase the number of words daily - and this way you will feel your maximum.
Don't push yourself
“If you understand that a certain technique does not suit you, do not be upset. It takes time to figure out your preferences. Before learning languages, you need to understand which group they belong to, how many tenses there are, and why certain constructions exist. So we will know why to study, for example, articles in German or why there are seventeen tenses in Spanish.
Subscribe to foreign accounts and YouTube channels
This helps to stay in good shape and learn new words daily. YouTube videos help improve listening skills much better than academic resources that sound too perfect.”
Watch memes and read non-fiction
“Scientific articles, research and non-fiction literature help to enrich the vocabulary. What's more, funny quizzes and memes in the language you're learning will be far more useful than any fiction. Because memes usually write about current events in easy language.
Keep a personal diary
"A personal diary helps to use words and grammatical constructions in writing."
Talk to yourself
You should always practice your speaking skills. You can talk to yourself or translate advertisements aloud. It is also worth going to language clubs and chatting with native speakers.”
Elena Yuvkovetskaya - accountant
Knows four foreign languages: English, Polish, German, Italian.
“I started learning English while still in school, and then improved it with tutors. I became interested in Polish when I learned that I have relatives in Poland and can make a “Pole's Card” in order to live in this country. So, having studied this language in courses, I was able to move to live in Poland, - said Elena. “A few years later, I had the opportunity to go to study in Germany, where I improved my English and learned German in intensive courses.”
Later, Elena returned to Poland, where she met her Italian husband, through whom she also learned his language.
On the subject: Not Books Alone: Eight Out-of-House Ways to Learn English
Language learning tips
Watch foreign TV and news
So you can hear the real language and understand what is usually talked about in a particular country.
Listen to podcasts
They tell interesting stories, explain grammar well and train conversational speech on various topics.
Don't be afraid to speak
There is no need to be afraid to say a word incorrectly: everyone makes mistakes, and foreigners are very positive about this, because you are just learning.
Test different methods and choose your own
To consolidate grammar, you can write a lot to get your hand in hand. You can create your own texts on a specific topic and enter the learned grammatical constructions into the sentence.
It is important not to stop and keep working, because languages help you expand your worldview and help you get a better job. In addition, Elena advises to travel, because in other countries where no one speaks your native language, it is much easier to practice speaking skills.
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