Friday Linkfest: Cool Language-Learning Links of the Previous Week of 3/13/11
This is something new I’m going to start doing if for no other reason than to make myself start posting more frequently and consistently, plus I read all sorts of cool language-learning related articles every day on the dozen or so blogs I’m subscribed to, plus people I follow on Twitter are always posting interesting stuff on there, and I really ought to share them with my readers who may or may not have seen them plus linking out to them acknowledges and rewards people who put good stuff out there and really ought to get credit for it.
Benny teaches us about St. Paddy’s day and the Irish language – St. Patrick’s claim to fame in Ireland was bringing Christianity to the Irish when so many others had tried and failed. Know why he succeeded? Because he spoke to them in their own language when every other preacher before him talked at them in Latin. Pretty cool, huh?
Jennie teaches us how to curse in French, and explains the French confusion with certain words being bleeped out on American and British television, which I particularly liked because I, like the French, find that sort of behavior to be shamefully stupid, I hate that we’re still so prudish and backwards even in this day and age.
Pete explains the subtleties of learning a language, how implicit learning works, and why you can really only learn by doing. This is something Benny has talked about repeatedly and is why he emphasizes speaking so much: you can’t learn how to speak a language by any means other than speaking it. What makes this post special is that Pete actually goes into detail explaining precisely why this is the case and how it works.
Aaron talks about putting in the time necessary to learn a language and how Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule in his book Outliers applies just as much to truly mastering a language as everything else. I’ve talked before about how important motivation is, and the reason it’s so important is because it’s necessary to succeed in a language because of the amount of time and hard work you have to put in: my favorite way of phrasing it is to say “You have to be consistently persistent.”, and that applies to succeeding in anything, not just learning a language. By the way, if haven’t read Gladwell’s book, I highly recommend you do so (Amazon link), it’s excellent.
Randy learned Polish in 8 days…well, not really, but what he did do is demonstrate just how much you can learn in such a short period of time and how fantastically effective and important it is to just dive right in and go! Eight days of plowing through a book on basic Polish got him to the point where he was chatting (not well, but he was speaking and they could understand him!) with native speakers. Also, he talks about how understand the basic grammar to some degree was helpful, and I’m actually not surprised, I’m not quite on the side of some my fellow language nerds who insist that learning formal grammar to any degree is useless, though I would definitely say that you shouldn’t be emphasizing it, you should be emphasizing actually speaking with people.
And Cracked (yeah, I know, but they’re generally funny and not too horribly inaccurate) tells us about the 5 stupidest ways that movies deal with foreign languages. The bit about Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October is dead on, it sounded like a Scotsman making a very poor attempt to imitate a Russian accent, which is because that’s precisely what it was.
And a new study has come out showing that speaking a second language can delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s by 5 years. If you don’t use it, you lose it, I’m not surprised to hear about this.
That’s all I could come up with for now, this was kind of an impromptu thing that I thought was a good idea and would provide some value to my readers, so if you like it let me know, and if you’ve got anything else you think should’ve been included or is just interesting, don’t be afraid to post it in the comments.
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!