Check out Tim Ferriss’s blog on how to learn a new language quickly.
I can speak 4 languages relatively fluently (Mandarin, Taiwanese, English, Japanese), and can program two more (PHP, C), but I have never thought of learning a language like what Tim Ferriss has suggested. When I try to speak a language, I think in logical blocks. I connect distinct units of language (such as verbs and nouns, in a spoken language, or even variables and keywords in a programming language), and try to construct logic out of the combination.
My first solo backpacking adventure was to Japan, and this was after 3 years of on-and-off Japanese learning. I am still quite rough at the language, but I discovered that it didn’t require much language ability to survive in a foreign country. I learned French for a year, before I embarked on a journey to France. I was totally useless, but still survived. Now I believe one only needs to learn the following phrases in order to survive (please note, I say “survive”, not “get by”) in any country.
- Thank you
- Sorry/ Excuse me
- Help…(with a pathetic expression helps)
- Where is…?
- Do you speak English?
The rest is just sign-language.
Tim Ferriss is an unique fellow. I also recommend his book The Four Hour Workweek. It’s quite inspirational. After reading the book, I realised that my new company, Yabbyland.com is essentially a tool designed to allow people to easily outsource daily chores to make life easier, as suggested by Tim.
Tim, I hope your blog makes it to the Technorati 1000 soon.
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