How to learn a language?

Sup doods?

I’ve finally got serious about learning to read/understand Afrikaans, and this is the language learning method which I am trying.

There are only three requisites:

Firstly: that you know a few hundred words of the language.

Secondly: you have a vague idea of the grammar or how the language hangs together.

Thirdly: you have a high tolerance of uncertainty.

Assuming you satisfy these  somewhat arbitrary requisites then you are ready to start.

Find a book that you want to read (in your target language), and its associated audiobook. I chose Kobra by Deon Meyer because I’ve enjoyed some of his other books in English.

Each day you listen to and read a set number of pages. The audio book that I bought is split into about sixty sections, and each day I listen to one and at the same time read the associated pages.

Naturally, I don’t understand much at the moment, and obviously if I look every word up in a dictionary the process would take forever.

So what do I do?

I’m only allowed (I treat this like a game) to look up words that I have learnt previously and then forgotten. This isn’t as stupid as it sounds.

I’m using memrise to learn words, and each day learn or begin to learn around twenty new Afrikaans words. Some of these words I remember immediately, and others not at all, but later when I see them in the book, I tend to know that I have tried to learn them previously, and then (and only then) I allow myself to look them up.

This is a surprisingly effective process. It is only when I see a word being used in a phrase that it starts to sink in, regardless as to the strength of my memory according to Memrise.

I am using the Memrise App constantly in spare moments, for example I learnt seven new words (which I have now forgotten) when eating toast (with marmalade) this morning. It is probable that I will remember one or two of them when I read tonight, and recognise one or two others.

Grammar. If you want to learn a language when reading, it is helpful  to try to recognise patterns within the language, and without a basic knowledge or outline of the grammar this is difficult. Afrikaans grammar is in general not complicated for English speakers, and understanding the structure of  Afrikaans sentences has in the main been straight-forward.

I’m just playing around with this, but if it works, and once I can read Afrikaans, I’ll return to Polish (which is unfinished business for me)  with vigour sometime later in the year.





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