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Unusual Ways to Learn Any Language: Polyglot Tips

Фото: Depositphotos

The translator and writer Kato Lomb knew 16 languages, learned almost everything independently and constantly got acquainted with new ones - for example, she took up Hebrew already in 80 years. At the same time, she was sure that it is impossible to divide people into those for whom new languages ​​are given easier, and those for whom it is not available. "Theories and Practices" published its universal method: where to start, how not to quit and not die of boredom in the process and what should not be done in any case.

“Suppose I want to learn the Azilian language. Such a language, of course, does not exist. I came up with it at this very moment to generalize and emphasize the unity of my approach.

For a start, I start searching for a fairly thick Asilian dictionary. I never buy small dictionaries: experience is not only mine! - shows that they quickly become unnecessary, you still have to look for a large dictionary. If I cannot get the Azilian-Hungarian dictionary, then I try to get an Azilian-English, Azilian-Russian, etc.

First I use this dictionary as a textbook. I study the rules of reading on it. In each language (and, therefore, in each dictionary) there is a fairly large number of international words. And the larger the dictionary, the more of them. The names of nations, countries, cities (mainly those that are smaller, whose names are not distorted by the so-called tradition, that is, frequent use), as well as the "supralinguistic" terminology of science reveal to me all the relations between letter and sound in Asil. (I remember that in the Russian-English dictionary I bought in 1941, I first of all found my name, Ekaterina.)

I don’t teach words, I’ll only consider them: I count letters and sounds, measure their length, as if it were a crossword puzzle.

While I understand the rules of reading, the dictionary reveals to me other "secrets" of the language: I begin to notice what means form various parts of speech from one root, how a verb becomes a noun, a noun - an adjective, an adjective - an adverb, etc. just a test of language, taste, touch. The first rapprochement with the language, then to make friends.

Together with the dictionary or immediately after it I buy a textbook and fiction in the Azilian language. Since I am an average student, that is, I have to train myself, I buy textbooks with a key, such that contain the correct solution of problems. I read the lessons one by one and do all the exercises. I am writing "spacious" to leave room for corrections. I look at the “key” and write down the correct one over my incorrect variations. Thus I get a clear "story of my stupidity."

I scold myself for the mistakes made and immediately forgive myself (this is very important: see below the tenth commandment!). In the notebook, I always leave so much space to write five or six correct words along with the wrong, distorted words and phrases. It helps to assimilate the correct forms.

Since the study of a textbook is a rather boring lesson, entertainment, as they say, is below average, at the very beginning I begin to read Azilian plays or short stories. If I managed to get the adapted texts, then I read them. If not, take any literary work. I always get at least a couple in the hope that one of the two will be more understandable. I try not to read too modern literature, because sometimes I don’t understand it in Hungarian either.

So, immediately accepted for public access to the presentation and content. The path from misunderstanding through semi-understanding to full understanding for an adult is an exciting, interesting tourist route worthy of the development of its spirit.

After reading the book and saying goodbye to her, I praise myself for endurance and perseverance.

When reading for the first time, I write out only those words that I understood, that is, those whose meaning I could understand in context. Of course, not in an isolated form, but creating a small context for everyone. Only when I read a book a second, or even a third time, I write out all the other unfamiliar words. However, no, not all, but only those that are akin to me, my personality, which I use in my native Hungarian speech or which I understand well (after all, we don’t use all the same words and not all - to confess! - well we understand). And to all the words that I write out, I necessarily add a “bush”, “family” (the material for the “bush” can be found in the book itself or in the dictionary).

However, all this still does not teach the most important of the four language skills already mentioned many times - “understanding oral communication”. Having worked and diligently rewritten the textbook, I still have not gotten a sufficiently correct idea of ​​pronunciation. Therefore, at the very beginning of my acquaintance with the Azilian language 1-2, I dedicate an hour to “air mapping”. I learn when and on what waves I can listen to radio broadcasts in Azilian.

Then - not immediately, but through the 1-2 of the day - the vocabulary derived from the ether, I write down in the final vocabulary. I recommend this arrangement in time because in this way I force myself to brush up, to repeat the beginners have already eluded knowledge from memory.

Фото: Depositphotos

Once a week I record a program on a tape recorder and keep the record until I scroll through it several times and squeeze everything possible out of it at the moment. Usually I focus primarily on pronunciation. And often there are words that I already know from books, but which I did not recognize right away, because I had a wrong idea about their phonetic image; occurs, thus, re-acquaintance.

I strive, of course, to find a teacher who can give me the basics of Azilian. Good luck if you can find a professional teacher. But if not, I am looking for an acquaintance with a native speaker.

I take great pleasure in taking lessons from women than from men. Probably because women hang their tongues better - it is easier to talk with them, as it is easier to find and contact. (In fact, what is the reason for this from time immemorial famous phenomenon?).

From my teacher of Azilian language, I am waiting, in turn, for what I cannot get either from books or from radio: 1) an opportunity to agree on a slower pace of speech in order to catch as many words as possible; 2) the possibility of correcting my own Asilian on the basis of the tasks I diligently carry out for each lesson.

First, I write what comes to mind, because it is easier. Often there are separate phrases in which I introduce new words that have been seen or heard, grammatical forms. Corrections allow me to check whether I understood the meanings of words, their role in the sentence. And then I start translating. In advance, this text in one way or another compels us to use not well-known words and forms, but less definite ones, to which the harsh, implacable setting of the translation forces me. In contrast to many professional teachers of the language, I share the opinion of István Pongo, who, in translation, more precisely, in translation into foreign languages, sees the best and most effective tool for consolidating knowledge.

An uncorrected error is dangerous! Repeating irregular shapes, we remember them, and it is very difficult to get rid of them later. Translation, as an insect entomologist, punctures our mistakes on a pin, puts them under a microscope. And what he heard, as they say, flies into one ear, and flies into the other.

Many people are mistaken in thinking that staying in the country will automatically give knowledge of the language of this country. In the language environment, a couple of conversational turns might be attached to us, 2-3 a dozen words, expressions, but no more.

In any case, no more than we can learn at home in the same time. Neither casual conversations with Azilians, nor a comparative study of shop windows, nor mere listening to speech will open the way to Azilian language.

But listening with the dictionary in hand is yes! In addition, local newspapers always contain announcements about where and when an exhibition opens, an excursion is organized, and a lecture is given at the local branch of the Azilian society for the dissemination of knowledge. Whenever I go abroad, I try to go wherever possible. Especially good tool for learning the language - going to the movies. During one of my visits to Moscow, I set a record: in 3 of the week I went to the 17 movie once. It would be ideal, of course, to constantly and closely communicate with Azilians who have a kindred or the same range of interests. Especially with those who agree to take the trouble to correct the mistakes of our speech. Only in this case, a trip abroad would be useful for learning the language.


Kato Lomb - a famous Hungarian translator, writer, one of the first simultaneous translators in the world. She gained wide popularity due to her abilities in the field of learning foreign languages. Photo

I summed up my experience from traveling across the expanses of foreign languages ​​in the 10 commandments or recommendations to those who really, rather than flirting, without flirting, want to master a foreign language.

  1. Study your language daily. If there is absolutely no time, then at least 10 minutes. Especially good to do in the morning.
  2. If the desire to engage in too quickly weakens, do not force, but do not give up. Think of some other form: put the book down and listen to the radio, leave the textbook exercises and look through the dictionary, etc.
  3. Never bother, do not memorize anything separately, apart from the context.
  4. Write out of turn and memorize all the "ready-made phrases", which can be used in the maximum number of cases.
  5. Try to mentally translate everything what is possible: flashed advertising board, the inscription on the billboard, scraps of accidentally heard conversations. It is always a rest, even for a tired head.
  6. It is firmly to learn only what is corrected by the teacher. Do not re-read your own uncorrected exercises: with repeated reading, the text is remembered involuntarily with all possible errors. If you practice alone, then learn only the obviously correct one.
  7. Prepared phrases, idiomatic expressions write out and memorize in the first person, units. h For example: I am only pulling your leg. Or: Il m'a posé 'un lapin (He did not come to the appointment).
  8. A foreign language is a fortress that needs to be attacked from all sides at the same time: reading newspapers, listening to the radio, watching non-dubbed films, attending lectures in a foreign language, working out a textbook, correspondence, meetings and conversations with friends - native speakers.
  9. Do not be afraid to speak, do not be afraid of possible mistakes, but ask them to be corrected. And most importantly, do not be upset and do not be offended if you really begin to correct.
  10. Be firmly convinced that by all means you will achieve the goal, that you have inflexible will and unusual abilities to languages. And if you have already lost faith in the existence of such - and rightly so! - then think that you are just a smart enough person to master as little as a foreign language. And if the material still resists and the mood falls, then scold the textbooks - and rightly so, because there are no perfect textbooks! - dictionaries - and this is true, because exhaustive dictionaries do not exist, - at worst, the language itself, because all languages ​​are difficult, and the hardest of all is your native one. And it will go. "

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