You can have your first conversation in a foreign language in five minutes. There is more to a foreign language than vocabulary and grammar.
Although only a few geniuses have ever learned a language “overnight,” for the rest of us it takes some time.
The reason that some learn much quicker in my opinion is that those who learn more rapidly take advantage of more opportunities to speak and to understand than the ones who either learn more slowly or give up altogether.
So the aim of of my report on learning a language faster, Lightning Languages, is to get people to forget about the grammar and vocabulary and to FOCUS ON GETTING THEIR MESSAGE ACROSS.
To start any language you don’t need many words. The myth of not having a large enough vocabulary stops a lot of people.
As you progress, you will naturally add vocabulary and get better with the grammar.
That’s why I don’t spend time with grammar lessons or long vocabulary lists.
Here’s what I recommend to you:
1. GET EXCITED about getting connected to another person through a foreign language
2. FIND A PARTNER: Someone close by is best, but if that isn’t possible, I highly recommend http://mylanguageexchange.com (not an affiliate link — I don’t get a penny if you sign up). Have at least two sessions a week, one in English (or whatever you native language is) and the second session is the target language. DO NOT mix languages. (Ok, if you are starting at zero, mix a little, but it’s important that you both use the same language because you learn a lot by interacting in context.)
3. PRACTICE DAILY: If you are just starting, then you can take a few words or phrases from a source like http://wordreference.com or my favorite Pimsleur – or better yet from your exchange partner from step two.
Keep in mind that “Hi. How are you?” “I’m fine.” IS A CONVERSATION.
Also, to be able to answer yes or no to the question, “Do you want fries with that?” is vital and important to you when you are ordering your dinner.
So just to be able to say two words such as”I’m hungry” is a great advancement in your language skills.
Slow down. You don’t need to have a vocabulary of a thousand words to have a good conversation in a foreign language.
That’s right. Size doesn’t matter.
If I had believed I needed a thousand words — or even 500 — to be able to have a conversation in a foreign language, I never would have started.
I got such a thrill out of saying “Wie geht’s” in German or “‘Ça va?” in French and watching the person’s face light up, that all I wanted was another small phrase to try out.
Keep it simple. And enjoy the interaction. Each new phrase is a drop of honey you should savor.
Remember, studies show that 50-80% (or more) of communication is non-verbal. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother with with the words, but a few words can go a long way.
If you get caught up in the grammar and vocabulary you will miss the main event.
To move from that simple interaction to a review of the movie you saw last night is a gradual process that can be sped up significantly by losing your fear of sounding funny and your fear of imperfection.
Nobody speaks perfectly. If you don’t believe me, count the grammar mistakes the next time you talk to your best friend.
That’s not what makes good or even great conversation.
It’s the connection you have with another person.
If you concentrate on the connection, and let the language loose, practice daily -even by yourself – you will be amazed at how well you speak a foreign language in three months from now.
Oh, and by the way, I get compliments for my language skills all the time, not because my accent, vocabulary and grammar are so flawless, but because the people I talk to can sense my excitement about connecting with them.
They feel my excitement to be speaking to them in a foreign language, my confidence in my own abilities, and my sincere interest in what they say.
That is real fluency in a language.
And yes, that kind of attitude with help you pass the tests.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.