Why are some people better at learning languages than others are? What is the secret? One of my older brothers can speak English, Spanish, French and Italian. I always thought that he simply possessed a “language gene” that I do not have. However, after watching Lydia Machová’s TED Talk on learning language, I have changed my mind…
In her talk, Lydia says that there are four important components to learning a new language quickly and effectively:
- Enjoyment: The learner must use a method (talking to other people, making lists of new words, watching Netflix in your desired language, etc.) that they enjoy. Polyglots (people who speak many languages) all use different methods to learn new languages. The way in which one person learns a new language may be completely different than how another person may learn. Any method that keeps you engaged and interested is valid!
- Methods: If the learner wants to achieve fluency in a new language, they must use methods that will store new words and information in their long term memory rather than their short term memory. Lydia suggests reviewing the new information every few days. She suggests using apps such as Memrise or Anki to help with this practice. She also suggests looking up different polyglots on YouTube and seeing what their favourite methods are.
- System: Lydia emphasizes the importance of establishing a systematic language learning routine into our daily lives. She suggests waking up 15 minutes earlier than usual to review vocabulary or listening to a foreign language podcast during your commute.
- Patience: Skill acquisition takes time. Whether you are learning to shoot a proper layup in basketball, learning to use Wordpress, or learning a new language, time, effort, and patience are always necessary.
Lydia mentioned that when she was learning German, she watched the TV show Friends on Netflix in German. I think that is a brilliant method! I decided to take Lydia’s advice and change the language on my Netflix to Italian so that I can watch all of my favourite shows while still being productive! After a little bit of research, I found out that there are only 17 movies that I can watch on my Canadian Netflix account in Italian. That’s right, only 17. There may be a way to change the settings on Netflix to make it work (possibly through a VPN) but I am not sure how to do that. If anyone knows how to make this work, please let me know. If I could watch The Office in Italian, I would learn so quickly!
After I changed the language on my Netflix, I thought: why not change the language from English to Italian on all of my social media? I changed the language settings on my Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
That’s it for now, arrividerci!