Often in the process of studying Japanese I’ll hit a point where I need inspiration and advice to get me motivated again. The best thing for that are videos about learning languages. This post looks at some of the best inspirational and useful videos for learning languages and a breakdown of their core lessons (an idea I got after Japan Therapy posted one on her facebook page).
These videos mostly talk about learning a language through speaking it to the point where you can have conversations in a foreign language. I’ve written down their core tips but do watch every video, they’re all fantastic and have some wonderful advice!
Hacking language learning: Benny Lewis
Learn a language because you enjoy it! Benny Lewis is great, he breaks down the myths and lies people tell themselves that stop them from studying, practising or learning.
- No Language Talent – “No point doing something because I don’t have the talent.” If you don’t put the effort in of course you won’t get anything back. Even if someone is ‘talented’ if you work 20% harder to catch up you will find yourself overtaking them.
- Too Old to Learn – No one is too old, Benny started at 21. One study found adults learn better than children, and if you live the language rather than study you’ll pick it up faster.
- Can’t Travel – The world is smaller, you can connect and talk to people online, or find people in your city/town.
- Have a Bad Memory – He goes over spaced repetition and mems for learning which help you remember language so much more.
- Scared of Getting Things Wrong – Make mistakes! Don’t be afraid to use the language and make mistakes and embarrass yourself. It means you’re using the language and you learn from your mistakes.
How to learn any language in six months | Chris Lonsdale
The core of his argument is you can learn a language in six months if you put yourself in situations where you have to learn to survive. This is a little hard if you’re studying for fun because you’re not putting yourself in a situation where you need to use the language to survive. All of his stories are of him being in the country and putting himself in situations where he needed to use the language.
When I’ve gone to Japan my Japanese ability has shot through the roof and this wasn’t because I studied at schools there (although that helps), it was because I went out and found myself in situations where I had to talk to people. The first time I went I did WWOOF (see A Cheap Way to Visit Japan – WWOOF) which is working on organic farms, and my speaking ability was really bad, but the host families I was with couldn’t speak very good English so I was forced to communicate in Japanese, which boosted my Japanese ability exponentially.
One Simple Method to Learn Any Language | Scott Young & Vat Jaiswal
Don’t speak any English – This is their main tip and I found this to be true. When I was studying in Japan I would speak Japanese even with my foreign friends and my Japanese improved a lot more compared to those that only spoke English with foreign friends.
They also suggest you visit the country and force yourself to speak with native people and put yourself in situations where you are forced to learn. But do not speak any English even if you think it’ll be faster or help you learn.
- Find someone learning or native you can talk with in that language.
- Commit to the no-English rule with them.
- Start speaking.
5 techniques to speak any language | Sid Efromovich
- Make Mistakes
- Learn the Correct Sounds – He suggests not using the foreign alphabet to learn but the foreign sounds.
- Finding a Stickler – Someone who will not let you get away with making mistakes, someone who will correct you while encouraging you to make mistakes.
- Shower Conversations – Practice a language in the shower (or anywhere) by having a conversation with yourself. Forced to have both sides of the conversation and highlight gaps in your language.
- Buddy Formula – Find a friend who’s strongest language is the language you’re learning and practice with them.
The first 20 hours — how to learn anything | Josh Kaufman
Josh found that the research revealed it took you 10,000 hours to learn something to an expert level, but this is only in ultra-competitive fields (athletes, musicians etc). People mis-understand that it and take it as 10,000 hours to learn anything.
He suggests you can go from learning nothing to learning the basics of something from 20 hours of focused, deliberate practice. Or 45 minutes a day for 1 month. There are 4 steps to practice efficiently:
- De-construct the skill – What do you want to achieve (understand anime, read manga)? Break this down into what will help you get what you want (speaking, listening, reading, writing) and focus on learning those first.
- Learn enough to self-correct – Learning becomes a way to getting better at recognising when you’re making a mistake, then do it differently.
- Remove practice barriers – TV, the internet, basically stop procrastinating and put distractions out of the way.
- Practice for at least 20 hours – Overcome the frustration barrier to reap the rewards.