Friday Linkfest: Cool Language-Learning Links of the Previous Week of 3/20/11
It’s back! Friday Linkfest actually got a bit of attention the last time I did it, and I think it’s an excellent idea because, as I stated before, it gives you, the reader, a short little list of interesting language-learning stuff to look at that you may not have seen plus linking out to them acknowledges and rewards people who put good stuff out there and really ought to get credit for it. Let’s see what we’ve got for this week…
Aidan addresses the ever-popular topic among language-nerds of The Easiest Language and his perspective is, honestly, the closest to mine that I’ve read yet. Motivation does matter, but pretending that there’s no difference between languages in terms of difficulty is simply naively denying what reality actually is. Difficulty depends, more than anything, on what your native language is and what languages you already know–Icelandic is generally considered one of the hardest languages in the world, but being a Nordic language it almost certainly would be far easier for a native speaker of Norwegian or Swedish than it would be for anyone else.
Simon over at Omniglot tells us the story of Humboldt’s Parrot, a parrot that belonged to a recently slaughtered Amazonian tribe, the Maypure, and whose language would have been completely lost had it not been for the fact that their parrots learned a large portion of their language and those parrots were subsequently acquired by one Alexander von Humboldt who then did his best to transcribe the Maypure language based on what the parrots said. Very cool
Vincent does a great job of showing us how easy and fun it can be to learn a language and find native speakers of it, especially in a large city, by describing the Spanish and Mandarin-speaking communities in Philadelphia.
Steve addresses a very common problem (among many) with language teaching as it’s normally done in schools in the United States, specifically that the teachers tend to be far too controlling of how their students learn, the material they’re allowed to learn from and are exposed to, etc. I’ve honestly never had a positive experience with any language class I’ve taken, so I’m not surprised to hear that this sort of attitude is common.
And Randy makes it on the list two weeks in a row by nailing a personal pet peeve of mine, namely the myth that children have some sort of strangely magical ability to acquire languages that gives them an immense advantage over adults but really only gives adults a bullshit excuse to use for being lazy and not learning a language properly.
Now, I’m actually going to send you to a blog post from several years ago because it’s one that I think every language-learner should read and I’ve referred people to it so many times I’ve lost count. It’s by Tim Ferriss and is about how he learned Japanese in 3 months in Japan simply by indulging his passion in Judo. It’s a fantastic read that I cannot recommend highly enough. Any blogger out there that writes something about how to learn a language by involving it in something that you already like or are passionate about like a hobby should read this first and be sure to refer to it in their post (I’ve read about a dozen such posts, by the way, seems as though everyone comes up with that one and, worse, thinks they’re the first one to ever think of it).
That’s it, I hope you found something interesting here and if you’ve got any additional suggestions please please please put them in the comments, anything at all interesting you’ve come across recently you’d like to share that you think someone might find useful is more than welcome!
A quick side note: if you’re learning Spanish or thinking about doing so, you need to know about this…
I’ve got an entire book about how to put together your own personal, custom Spanish-learning system that’s based on using online resources (mostly free) and Spanish-language popular media such as TV shows, movies, books, etc. It’s designed especially for beginners and intermediate learners, it shows you how to get started right by learning modern, normal, everyday spoken Spanish (what native speakers actually use to talk to each other in most common situations) so that you’re learning the most useful type of Spanish and not something outdated or overly formal like what you might find in a textbook. The biggest emphasis, however, is having fun because if you don’t do that then odds are extremely good you will fail because the most common reason people fail to learn a language is that they get bored and frustrated and then they quit! If you get to choose whatever TV show, movie, or book in Spanish that seems like it would be interesting and/or entertaining to you, and then use it to teach yourself Spanish, how could that not be fun?! In this guide I even include 4 lists, each in its own appendix at the rear, of all the free online resources you will ever need as well as a review of many of them and information on how to use them. If this sounds like something that might interest you, please check out my book here on Amazon.
Also, I’ve got two posts that I’ve put up that I’m recommending everyone interested in learning Spanish go read if they haven’t already (if you have, ignore this, sorry): How to avoid wasting months learning Spanish the wrong way (basically this is my “how to get started right in learning Spanish” post for complete beginners) and The Telenovela Method where I cover how to use popular media like movies, music, and books to learn Spanish. Additionally you can check out the front page for a more complete list of my best and most popular posts.
Get my list of the internet's top 33 FREE Spanish-learning resources here!I put together a list of the internet’s Top 33 Free Spanish-learning resources, my favorite language exchanges and Spanish chat rooms, and more. I’ve spent a great deal of time putting together a 3-part series of articles for you on the internet’s best free resources for the Spanish-learner that you’ll get when you sign up for my newsletter–in addition to all of what you get below, I’ll be sure to send you any updates about cool new sites, resources, and learning tips and techniques that I come up with (I’m currently putting together a whole series that will teach you in great detail precisely how I go about learning a new language):
Part 1: A very long list of my favorite Top 33 free online Spanish-learning resources (tools, references, sites with free lessons, articles, blogs, forums, etc.) that’s far too long to include here, especially with all the other stuff I’ve got here that’s available just on this site alone, and I’d like to offer it to you (completely free, you don’t have to do anything other than sign up) right now.
Part 2: I explain what language exchanges are (essentially they allow you free access to an unlimited number of native speakers to practice your Spanish with), why they’re absolutely essential if you’re teaching yourself (I’m serious when I say this: it’s impossible to get fluent without them if you’re learning a foreign language on your own), how to use them, and which ones are the best.
Part 3: I cover chat rooms which are specifically devoted to connecting you with native Spanish speakers who want to learn English so you can chat with them in Spanish (and they’ll help and correct you) and then you do the same for them with their English (these are completely free to use, but rather hard to find, but I’ll tell you where the best ones are!). Sign up below!