From the fascinating history of the language to its ridiculously easy pronunciation (English: Economics –– Tagalog: Ekonomiks) to its fairly wacky system of in-fixes (like prefixes and suffixes, just in the middle of the word: graduate + um = grumaduate), it was a fun article to write and research, and it should be a fun article to read, even if you’ve never thought about learning the language.
And…one last reason you may wish to peruse the Tagalog resource page, even if Tagalog’s not your thing: this is the first resource page that matches the content of my book.
In most grammar classes and textbooks, you learn words ingroups. You might learn about animals on one day and fruits the next. This is comfortable, both for language teachers and students. Your teacher gets to have a clear lesson plan (today is about numbers), and you get to accomplish something (today, I learned the numbers!).
But is this the most efficient way to learn vocabulary?
If you look at the research on vocabulary acquisition, you’ll find a surprising result: weirdly enough, learning groups of similar words (apple, pear, banana) is significantlyharder to learn. You’ll be much better off if you either learn words in unrelated groups (apple, dog, red) or in groups that form stories (apple, sweet, to eat).
To learn a language, you need to memorize a lot of vocabulary, and memorizing lots of vocabulary can be tricky. You’re faced with unfamiliar spellings and unfamiliar sounds, which makes foreign words significantly more difficult to remember than words in your native language. In this article, I’ll show you how to remember words more easily with the help of mnemonics.
A few months ago, I realized that I had forgotten a great deal of my French. My book was taking up 40-50 hours of every week, so I didn’t have extra time to study, and I didn’t really want to study French, either. This year is my Hungarian year, and what little time I have, I like to spend on that language. Languages benefit from focus, and so I try to avoid studying two of them at once.
I needed some way to bring back my French without actually having towork at it, and I found it in the form of television. Continue reading →
Alphabets (and syllabaries) are the first barrier of entry to any new language. If you want to learn a language like Russian, you’re basically paralyzed until you’re familiar with its letters. But even if you’re learning a language with familiar characters, like Italian, you’re going to feel uncomfortable and wobbly at first; those familiar characters aren’t particularly familiar in words like “zaino” (pronounced dzaino), “gli” (pronounced ʎi) or “cena” (pronounced tʃena).
I’ve always liked learning alphabets; while I don’t know more than 10 words of Hebrew, my seven years of Hebrew school did leave me with a decent ability to read the Hebrew alphabet. Yay. I had a similar experience in Russian back in high school. For me, alphabets seem to stick in my brain when nothing else will.
But if learning a new alphabet doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend your weekend, what can you do? This article is about one simple idea: How to learn the alphabet in any language quickly, and how to remember it for good.
I’m an Anki nut. In some sense, I owe three of my languages to Anki. One of my favorite things about Anki is its flexibility; you can make flashcards in any way you choose.
Once you’ve created and memorized a lot of flashcards (I recently passed 20,000 flashcards…geesh), you’ll start to notice that not all cards are created equal. Some flashcards are easy to remember, they teach you precisely what you want to learn, and they generally make you smile when you see them. Others make you want to throw your smartphone out the window. Good flashcards can make the difference between sticking with a language until fluency or giving up after a few months, so I’m making this guide to help others learn from some of my terrible, terrible flashcard-related mistakes.