How to learn any language in six months | Chris Lonsdale | TEDxLingnanUniversity

How to learn any language in six months | Chris Lonsdale | TEDxLingnanUniversity

Translator: Ahmed AbouZaid Proofreader : Anwar Dafa-Alla Who are in the back, can you hear me clearly? Well, excellent. Have you ever been occupied with a question for so long that it became part of your thinking? Maybe even a part of you as a person? Well, I've had a question on my mind for many years is how can we speed up the learning process? It's really an interesting issue because if you can learn faster, you will spend less time in school. And if you learn really fast, you probably won't need to go to school at all. Now, when I was young, school was okay but... I often noticed that school was a barrier to the education process and I had this question in my mind: How do we learn faster? And it started when I was very, very young, when I was eleven, I wrote a letter to researchers in the Soviet Union, asking them about Hypnopaedia, which is sleep learning, where you get a tape recorder, put it next to your bed and turn it on at night while you sleep, You are supposed to learn from this

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Good idea, but unfortunately it doesn't work! However, sleep learning opened doors for researchers in other ways and we had a great discovery about education that started with the first question. From there, I became passionate about psychology and have been involved in psychology in many different ways for the rest of my life up to this point. In 1981, I went to China and decided I would be a native Chinese speaker in two years now, you have to understand in 1981, everybody thought Chinese was really, really hard and a Western person might study for 10 years or more and not even come close to being good at it. And I also thought of a different idea, which was: Take all the conclusions from the psychology research up to that point and apply them to the learning process, which was really cool where I became fluent in Mandarin Chinese in 6 months and it took a little longer to get to the level of native speakers but I looked around and I saw All these people from different countries struggle terribly with Chinese, I've seen Chinese people struggle terribly to learn English and other languages, so the question was: How can ordinary adults be helped to learn a new language quickly, easily, and efficiently? Now that's a really important question in today's world

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We have huge challenges with the environment. We have huge challenges with social disintegration, with wars, all the things that happen and if we can't communicate, we're going to have a hard time solving these problems. So we need to be able to speak each other's languages, this is very, very important. The question then is: How can we do that? Well, it's really easy. Look around and find people who actually do it, find cases that actually work for them and then the principles can be identified and applied. It's called modeling and I've been looking at language learning and modeling language learning for 15 to 20 years now. My conclusion and observations from this is that any adult can learn a second language fluently within 6 months. Now when I say that, most people think I'm crazy, and that's not possible. So; Let me remind everyone of the history of human progress. It's all about expanding our borders

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In 1950, everyone thought it was impossible to run a mile in four minutes, so when Roger Bannister did it in 1956 and from there it just got shorter and shorter. From 100 years ago, everyone believed that heavy things could not fly. But she can and we all know that. How can heavy things fly? We reorganized the material using principles we learned from observing nature, birds in this case. Today we went even further... We went further, so the car can fly. You can buy one of these cars for a few hundred thousand dollars. Now in this world we have cars that can fly. There are different ways of flying that we learned from squirrels, so all you need to do is copy what a flying squirrel does. Make a suit called the wing suit and there you are, you can fly like a squirrel. Now most people, a lot of people, and I wouldn't say all people but a lot of people think they can't draw. However there are some basic principles, five principles, that you can apply to learn to draw and you can actually learn drawing in five days

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So, if you draw like this, you can learn these principles in five days and apply them, and after five days you can draw something like this. Now I know it's true because that was my first drawing and after five days of applying these principles that was what I could do. And I looked at this and I said, "Wow! So that's what I look like when I focus so intensely . My mind explodes." So, anyone can learn to draw in five days and in the same way, by the same logic, anyone can learn a second language in six months. How do? There are five principles and seven actions , there may be more but surely these are the basic ones. And before going into them I just want to talk about two myths, I want to disprove two. The first is that you need talent. Let me tell you about Zoe. Zoe came from Australia, to Holland, and she was trying to learn Dutch, she suffered so terribly... She suffered so much and finally people said, "You're totally useless," "You're not talented," "Give up," "You're a waste of time," and she was Very frustrating

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Then I discovered those five principles, moved to Brazil and applied them, and within 6 months she was fluent in Portuguese , so talent doesn't matter. People also think that immersion in a new country is a way to learn a language. But look in Hong Kong, look at all these Westerners who have been there for 10 years, and they haven't spoken a single word of Chinese. Look at all these Chinese people who live in America, Britain, Australia, Canada, they were there 10 to 20 years ago and they never spoke English. Indulgence in and of itself does not help. Why? Because a drowning person cannot learn to swim! When you don't speak a language, you are like a child

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And if you put yourself in the middle of a context where all the adults are talking about things that are above your level, you won't learn. So, what are the five principles that you need to pay attention to? The first: the four words, attention, meaning, relationship, memory, and the connection between them are very important. Especially when you talk about learning. Come with me on a journey through a forest. You walk through the woods and you see something like this... little marks on a tree, maybe you care, maybe not. You walk another 50 meters and you see this... You have to pay attention

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After another 50 metres, if you don't pay attention you see this... At this point, you will pay attention. And I knew that... important, it's relevant because it means that, and whatever's relevant, any information about your survival are the things that you'll pay attention to and therefore remember. If it is related to your personal goals, then you will pay attention to it. If it is relevant, you will notice it. So, rule one, principle number one for language learning focus on the language content that is relevant to you. Which brings us to the tools. We master the tools with them and learn the tools faster when they are relevant to us. So let me share my story with you. The keyboard is a tool. Writing Chinese a certain way there are ways for that. This is the tool. I had a classmate of several years. she went to night school; Tuesday nights and Thursday nights, two hours at a time, practicing at home, she spent nine months, not learning how to write Chinese

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And one night we had a crisis. We have 48 hours to deliver a training manual in Chinese. And she got the job, and I can assure you in 48 hours, she could learn to write Chinese because it was relevant to her, it was meaningful and important, she was using some tool to create value. So the second principle for learning a language is to use that language as a tool for communication from day one like a child does. When I first arrived in China, I didn't speak a single word of Chinese, and in my second week, I decided to take the train. I spent eight hours sitting in the dining car talking to one of the guards on the train, for some reason he took an interest in me, and we talked all night in Chinese and he was drawing pictures and making facial expressions and hands and little by little I understood more and more. But the cool thing was, two weeks later, when people were speaking Chinese around me, I understood some of this and made no effort to learn it

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What happened, I drank that night on the train, which brings us to the third principle. When you first understand the message, then you unknowingly acquire the language. And that's really documented now, and this is called perceptual input. There's 20 to 30 years of research on this, Stephen Krashen, a pioneer in this field, and he's published all kinds of different studies and this is just one of them. The purple bars show scores on different language tests. The people in purple are the ones who learned by grammar and formal study, the people in green are the ones who learned with perceptual input. So, perception works. Perception is key and language learning is not about accumulating a lot of knowledge. In many, many cases it is a matter of physiological training. A woman I know from Taiwan did well in English during school. She got honours, all the way through to college, she got honours, she went to the United States and found that she couldn't understand what people were saying. And people started asking her, "Are you deaf?" And it was! Deaf in English

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Because we have filters in our brain that filter out sounds we are familiar with and filter out sounds from languages we don't know. And if you can't hear it, you can't understand it, and if you can't understand it, you can't learn it. So you have to be able to hear these sounds. There are ways to do this, but they are physiological exercises. Speech uses muscles. You have 43 muscles in your face, you have to organize them in such a way that you can make sounds that others can understand. If you do any new sport for several days, you know how your body feels? hurt? If your face hurts, you're doing it right. The last principle is status. The state of self-organic. If you are sad, angry, anxious or upset, you will not learn! I finish

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If you are happy, relaxed, in the alpha state of mind, and curious, you will learn really fast, and specifically, you need to be tolerant of uncertainty. If you are one of those people who need to understand 100 percent of every word they hear, you will be weary, because you will always be very upset, because you are not perfect. If you are understanding with knowing some and not knowing others, just pay attention to what you already understand, you will be fine, relaxed, and you will learn quickly. So, based on these five principles, what are the seven actions you should take? Number one: listen a lot

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I call it a brain dip. You put yourself in context where you hear tons and tons and tons of a language and it doesn't matter if you understand it or not. You listen for rhythms, for patterns that repeat, you listen for things that stand out. Bao Nauzé So, just dip your mind into this. The second act is to know the meaning first, before even knowing the words

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Try it: "Well how do you do that? I don't know the words!" Well, you understand the meaning of these different situations. Human communication is body language in so many different ways, a lot of body language. From body language you can understand a lot of communication, and therefore, you understand, you gain through perceptual input. And you can use the patterns you already know. If you speak Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese and you go to Vietnam, you will understand 60 percent of what they tell you in everyday conversation, because Vietnamese is 30 percent Mandarin, and 30 percent Cantonese

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Third act: start mixing. You may have never thought about it but if you know 10 verbs , 10 nouns, and 10 adjectives, you can say 1,000 different things. Language is a creative process. What do young children do? Well, "me", "bathroom", "now". Well, this is how they communicate. So start mixing, get creative, and have fun with it, you don't have to be perfect, the important thing is that it works. And when you do, you focus on the heart of the matter. what does that mean? Well, any language is high frequency content. In English, 1,000 words cover 85 percent of anything you will say in everyday communication. 3000 words give you 98 percent of anything you would say in everyday conversation. If you get 3000 words you speak the language. The rest are additional improvements. And when you start with a new language, start with your toolbox. Week one, in your new language you say things like, "How do you say that?" “I didn’t understand” “Return that please” “What does that mean?” In all of your target languages you use it as a tool, make it useful to you, it's relevant to learning other things about the language

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By the second week , you should be saying things like: "I", "this", "you", "that", "give", "you know", "hot" Simple pronouns, simple nouns, simple verbs, simple adjectives You communicate like a little kid. By the third or fourth week, she begins to "paste words." Although, “but,” and “therefore,” these are the conjunctions that connect language, allowing you to make more complex meanings. At that point you are speaking. And when you do, you have to get a language parent. If you look at how children and parents interact, you will understand what this means. When a child speaks, he uses simple words, simple structures. Sometimes they sound so weird, sometimes they sound so weird, other people outside the family don't understand them

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But the parents understand. Thus, the child has a safe environment, and gets confidence. Parents talk to the child using body language and with simple language they know the child understands. So that you have a safe perceptual input environment, we know that works; Otherwise, none of you will speak your mother tongue. So get a language parent , someone who cares about you personally and who will basically communicate with you naturally, but is interested in helping you understand the message. There are four rules for a language parent. The couple are not good at this! Okay? But the four rules are, first of all, that they will work hard to understand what you mean even if you are wrong. Second, they will not correct your mistakes. Third, they will let you know what they understand from what you are saying so that you can respond appropriately and understand their observations and then they will use words you know. The sixth thing you have to do, is copy the face

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You have to make the muscles work properly, so that you can make sounds in a way that people will understand you. There are some things you do. One is to hear the feeling, feel the sound which means you have a feedback loop going on in your face, but ideally if you can look at a native speaker and notice how they use their faces, let your subconscious mind absorb the rules , then, you will be able to use them . And if you can't look at a native speaker of the language, you can use things like... sing , song- king, heard, commented. And the final thought here, the last act that you have to do is something I call "direct contact." What does this mean? Well, most people learn a second language in some way

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They take the words of their mother tongue and the new language and cycle between them over and over in their mind to try and remember those words. This is not effective at all. What you have to do is realize that everything you know is an image in your mind, it's feelings, if you're talking about fire, you can smell smoke, you can hear the crackling, you can see the flame, so what you're doing, is you go inside these perceptions and all that memory You get off another path. So I call it "same box, different path"

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As you get out of this pathway and build up over time, you become more adept at connecting new sounds to these images that you already have, in your inner mind. Over time you become naturally better at this process, as it occurs unconsciously. So, there are five principles that you need to work on, and seven actions that, if you do any of them, will improve. And remember that these things are in your hands as a learner. Do them all, and you'll be fluent in a second language in six months. Thank you .