Polyglots. Gods or mortals? Sometimes I can’t tell the difference. Jokes aside, the polyglot label is one that comes with pride for the intelligence, hard work and dedication that these people have applied to learn several languages.
What can a simple Australian girl like me learn from them?
Here are some common themes I’ve noticed among the different polyglots on the internet.
#Find Your Learning Style
What engages you? Why are you learning this language? How do you learn?
Find your learning style.If songs are your thing, make a playlist and print out the lyrics. If you love studying grammar, buy grammar books and make time to study.
# Try to follow up language learning with Skype sessions or an extended trip to the country
Benny Lewis of fluentin3months.com studies a language extensively for six months or more then spends six months or so in the country only speaking in that language.
If you are truly serious about learning a language to fluency as soon as possible, then I recommend you make a similar decision if you are also living in the country. If your English speaking friends understand even a little of the language, then tell them that from now on you are only going to speak to them in it.
If they respond in English, or if a local suggests an English word for what you are trying to say, then that’s fine! But you must only answer them in the language you are learning, or maybe occasionally use the word in English, or a quasi-mixture of English and their language if you must, but don’t actually speak in English.
Stop depending on those English speaking friends and make new ones. In that month I lost a few friends; I realized that some of them were only using me to practise their English, and some of them just simply didn’t have the patience for me and my crazy project.
# Have fun with words
A common word learning technique that polyglots use is word association.
How will you remember the words that you learn?
Maintain the languages you have learned by creating a routine in which you practise each language you’ve learned. It might be a phone call to your French friend, reading a blog post in Arabic or watching a YouTube video in German.
#Start speaking straight away
Go to the neighbourhood in your town that speaks the target language. Start a conversation with the Greek bookshop owner or become a local at the Italian coffee bar. Ask people at parties if they speak the target language. Make videos trying out what you have learned so far and ask for feedback. I met a teenager who is learning English at school but practises listening and speaking through an online gaming community with a microphone. Say what you can in the target language with a mix of your native language
#Figure out what words and phrases you actually use
You can do this by writing a language script (link coming soon) for yourself and learning it off-by-heart. Read through your messages to friends and family to see what words and phrase you use most often.
# Don’t worry about perfection
Even native speakers make mistakes. Think about the mistakes you and your friends make in English.