How to learn any language in six months

More Strides in Learning Georgian : Principles and actions for learning any language in six months

August is a month where I have very little teaching, it would be good to invest my time learning Georgian rather than wasting my time playing Pool on Facebook, or other such time killing activities. Most of my Pool opponents are Turkish, so I have learnt a few choice Turkish swearwords :/ but Turkish is not currently my target language.

Playing Pool on Facebook

Playing Pool on Facebook

Wasted time is worse than wasted money (Paulo Coelho)

Yesterday, having finished watching the Youtube Georgian Language podcasts, I turned my attention to some TedX talks about language learning, I watched four different clips. They were all interesting, the one I think might be the most useful is this one by Chris Lonsdale in Hong Kong.

His clip entitled “How to learn any language in six months” sounds promising. He identifies 5 principles and 7 actions.

5 Principles

  1.  Focus on language content relevant to you.
  2.  Use your language as a tool to communicate from day one.
  3. When you first understand the message you will unconsciously acquire the language. (Looking at body language, expressions and the like is useful here).
  4. Physiological training – if you can’t hear it you won’t understand. This is a problem I have with Georgian, some letters sound the same to me, like “თ” in “თბილისი” (Tbilisi) and “ტ” in “ნატალი” (Natalie), I have been trying since I began learning Georgian to distinguish these sounds.
  5. Psycho-Physiological State… if you are happy and relaxed you learn much better than if you are sad, angry or worried.

 7 Actions

  1. Listen a lot. This is to pick up on the rhythm and cadence of the language.
  2. Focus on getting the meaning first (it doesn’t matter if you don’t understand every single word).
  3. Use patterns you already know (this is easier when learning a language related to your own, Georgian has little in common with English).
  4. Focus on the core. The high frequency language. In English the most common word is “the”, in Georgian there is no word for “the”, Georgian doesn’t have articles. In Georgian the most common word is და meaning “and”, I tried finding a list of the most common Georgian words, the first list I came across had “როგორც” meaning “as” at the top of the list, but then I also found they’d listed “as” as the most common word in their list of most common Greek Words and most common Galician words… The second list I found was a list of the most common words inputted to the Georgian pages of Wikipedia. This was more useful but had some interesting anomalies, the second most common word was “რედაკტირება“, the Georgian word for “edit” (a common feature of Wiki pages). Georgian frequency list.
  5. Find a language parent. A child often learns their first language from their mother. A language parent is someone who the learner can work with who tries to understand them but without correcting them and using simple words like a mother would to her child. If any Georgians reading this are interested in being my “language parent”, let me know. (We could do an exchange English for Georgian). Apparently spouses don’t make good language parents. I don’t think my mother-in-law would make a good language parent either!
  6. Copy the face. Look at people speaking the language and see how they move their faces to make the sounds.
  7. Make direct connections. Make images related to the word. The Georgian word for tiger is “ვეფხვი“, this looks like it has four limbs.


    More ideas: There is no definitive method to learn a language, nor any tool or teacher that will single-handedly deliver you to the holy grail of fluency. Language is written, spoken, read and heard. Each of these areas is considered a core skill within which there are myriad potential inputs; would you restrict yourself to one in your native language? All too often, people enter their weekly language class to converse with their teacher, but then barely have any contact with other native speakers or the media being broadcast in their target language. Try something new every day. Listen to a cheesy song, read a newspaper article from a newspaper whose politics differ from your own, write a story for kids, attempt some improvised theatre and talk to yourself while cooking.

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