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Language Learning Secrets Revealed:

How Anyone can Learn a Language


Peter D Campbell
www.PeterDCampbell.com

Herodotus Press

First published 2014


This edition was first published in 2014
Copyright Peter D Campbell 2014
The moral right of the author has been asserted
Published by Herodotus Press,
www.HerodotusPress.com
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any means, without the
express permission in writing by the publisher or author, except in cases where brief extracts are cited
for the purpose of reviews.
Kindle ISBN 978-0-473-30189-7
Published in New Zealand

Table of Contents
Introduction:
Why be a linguist?
Myths about learning a foreign language
The 20 hour challenge
How long does it take to learn a foreign language?
Key phrases and words for tourist level language
Pre-intermediate to intermediate knowledge
The structure of language
Nouns (naming words)
Verbs (doing words)
Regular and irregular verbs
Adjectives (added to nouns)
Adverbs (added to the verb)
Choosing a Language Course
Motivation
Its all about memory: memory tricks
Images, Associations and Stories
Quick steps for memorising vocabulary:
Repetition
Hearing the sounds
Personalise the imagery
Tips
Flash cards
Linking words
Memory palaces
Language towns and countries
Mind Maps
Languages that are dissimilar
Accelerated learning
Perfecting pronunciation
Master a foreign language in six months
Be Relaxed
Make mistakes

Alphabet is only representational


Learn relevant vocabulary
Learn roots and cognates
Immerse yourself in the language
Talk, communicate and use the language
Comprehension leads to language acquisition
Control your emotions
Watch the face
Making friends and talking
Conversations with a native speaker
Girlfriends, boyfriends and the best way to learn?
Immersion
The Wonder of Communication
Social media isnt just social
Taking the next step: becoming a language master
Read, listen, repeat
Enjoy the story
Returning to old favourites
Music
Television and movies
English language films translated
Foreign films
Reading exercises
How to read fluently in three months
Mastering translation and interpreting
Written material
Auditory material
Poetry and Prose
Belief matters
Pavlovs languages
The tricky bits: Spelling and grammar
How to learn to spell a word
How to master grammar
Remembering tenses, conjugations and declensions
Remembering other grammatical rules

Maintaining motivation
Language Blocks
Conclusion
References and other material
Internet resources
Other books on language acquisition
TED Talks on language acquisition and memory
Other works by Peter D Campbell

Introduction:
As a child I wanted to learn foreign languages. I was captivated by my first experiences overseas and the
desire was increased by my favourite books, which led me to want to speak the same languages as my
childhood heroes. Growing up in New Zealand, learning a foreign language was no easy task and even
Maori, the second official language, was not taught at primary school apart from a few phrases and
numbers. My first opportunity to learn foreign languages was when I went to university at the age of 16.
At university I started studying languages. The languages I chose were not easy I chose Latin and
Russian. Latin in particular was a love from childhood and I covered the first year university curriculum
in a concentrated six week course. While many people would say that Latin was a waste of time, it has
helped considerably in learning other foreign languages, and helped me learn Russian.
On graduating from university I was awarded a scholarship to St. Petersburg State University in
Russia, where I threw all my energy into mastering the language. I learnt Russian much better than most
and in doing so learnt and worked out a number of effective techniques for developing the finer points
of language acquisition. In Russia, and after I returned to New Zealand, I worked as a teacher of English
to speakers of other languages. Experience with students from many countries struggling with English
taught me a lot about how to learn and how not to learn.
I became a professional translator and was often mistaken as a second generation Russian or an ethnic
Russian from the Baltic states, but I was nevertheless disappointed that I did not master the language as
well as some others. Despite my success, the effort it took discouraged me from studying additional
foreign languages for almost eight years.
In that time I made occasional attempts to learn new languages. I picked up smatterings of French,
Italian, Spanish and Serbo-Croatian largely because I was visiting these countries and out of a sense of
politeness I wanted to be able to say something in the local language. It is a common mistake when
travelling to assume that everyone can speak your language. Everyone in the tourism industry, it seems,
can speak English when you are travelling in Europe, but often you need directions or some form of
help from locals who have no more than a smattering of English. Talking to them becomes a lot easier
when you have a smattering of their language. You can at least say a few words to them, and they can say
a few words to you, but more importantly it helps break down the lack of confidence which non-English
speakers feel when they are accosted by native English speakers. Its a matter of reciprocity which helps
build trust and rapport.
In 2009 and 2010, I trained as an NLP master practitioner and in the process was introduced to
research by Colin Rose into accelerated learning. While much of what Colin Rose discusses is common
sense to most educators, he developed a series of accelerated learning language courses that are sold to
this day. Intrigued by the claims Rose made I began exploring different approaches to language
acquisition, building on my experience learning Russian and Latin and using additional techniques to
improve my knowledge of these languages and exploring how I could use them for learning others.
Having returned to Russia as a journalist and writer, I continued to experiment with new techniques and
this book is the result of my research and personal experience of learning and teaching foreign
languages.
This book is based not only on my own experience, but includes information on learning foreign
languages taken from polyglots who have been successful learning several languages. It also includes
advanced techniques used by professional interpreters and translators to enlarge vocabulary, develop
fluency and improve accent. I also make use of techniques used by memory athletes, who professionally
memorise huge amounts of information as a sport. Their techniques can be adapted to learning foreign

languages.

Why be a linguist?

Although many people admire linguists, few people in our society seem to appreciate or understand the
advantages of knowing a foreign language and go to the effort of acquiring one. This is unfortunate as
knowledge of foreign languages brings a number of benefits to both the individual and their society.

What knowing a foreign language tells about you

People who have taken the time to learn a foreign language have shown that they are prepared to meet
other cultures half way. Furthermore, they have spent time developing their communication skills
because speaking or writing in a foreign language requires you to be specific about what you actually
mean. Often when we speak we use words with little attention to their actual meaning and implied
meaning, but when it comes to using a foreign language we need to be precise about what we really want
to say, otherwise the meaning is confused or lost in translation. This means that linguists are better
communicators than people who know only their native language.
Furthermore, learning a foreign language improves the neural plasticity in your brain. It will make you
more creative, and less likely to suffer from the consequences of illnesses such as Alzheimers.[1]
Someone who has lived in a foreign culture and taken the time to learn its language is more flexible and
capable of adapting to new situations. They will be more resilient, self reliant and capable of thinking
outside the square. So congratulations, if you are learning a foreign language, you are becoming a
better, more competent and capable person.
As part of learning a foreign language, you will also watch foreign movies, read foreign books (if you
like reading) and, almost by osmosis, you will start to learn about the culture of the language you are
studying. This may lead to new interests that you never considered before and it may lead to new jobs.
Suddenly you might find that you are not limited to an English language job market but can work
overseas, offering you greater opportunities. Furthermore, because of your knowledge of a foreign
culture, it becomes easier to make friends with people from that culture. This makes you a natural bridge
builder and someone who can help encourage peace amongst people, without even trying. Learning a
foreign language says a lot about you, and it is all good.[2]

What knowing a foreign language means to society


Imagine a society filled with people possessing the skills mentioned above: a society of flexible, adaptable
people, with excellent communication skills and an ability to empathise with others, and build rapport
with people from other cultures. As more and more cities become multicultural, there is a greater need
for people to be able to understand each other. When you arrive in a foreign country it is always good to
be able to assimilate, and this process requires learning the local language. This process of assimilation
becomes easier when at least some of the local population knows your language and culture. It creates a
sense of reciprocity and when people can understand you, they can not only help but encourage you to
assimilate and adapt to their way of life. By learning a foreign language you can assimilate more easily
into other cultures and help others assimilate into your own. The more linguists there are in a society
the better society can adjust to the changes that are taking place in an age of increasing globalisation.

Myths about learning a foreign language


There are numerous myths about learning in general and about language learning in particular. Many

people claim that children are particularly good at learning languages and as we get older, we lose the
ability. This is false. Children take about five years to learn to speak at a basic level; to speak as well as
adults usually takes children until they are about 13 years old. Adults can become fluent in a language
within about a year. However, many of the techniques children do naturally, are helpful for adults when
learning a language. People also claim that as they get older language acquisition becomes harder, Colin
Rose claims that this is also incorrect, although adults above the age of 40 seem to take a little longer to
learn.[3] When I was studying Latin, the person who topped our six-week intensive course was retired.
Age is no barrier to learning foreign languages.
What about accent? It is said that in order to be able to speak without an accent you need to start
learning when you are a child, no later than about seven years of age. Referring to Colin Roses research,
he claims that the single most important factor for learning to speak without an accent is feeling
empathy towards the culture and the people whose language you are studying. [4] There are cognitive
explanations for why children can naturally learn to speak without an accent, but this book will include
techniques which will enable you to acquire a language with the appropriate accent and Ill explain how
this works when we get to it.
Another popular myth is that you must go to a country to really learn its language. Although this can
help it is not a guarantee, and most expatriates go abroad and dont learn. Furthermore, nowadays there
is so much foreign language material available, that you can learn to speak fluently without leaving your
country or even your own home. One of my students who I taught many years ago, started learning
English when she was in her twenties and after a couple of years had mastered the language well enough
to be a tour guide in the State Hermitage Museum, one of the worlds largest art museums. She learnt
the language while living in Russia. You can learn to speak a foreign language, at any age, in any
location.
Another complaint that people have is that they have a bad memory and therefore cant learn a
foreign language. Although this might make the process slightly slower its effect is greatly exaggerated.
Poor memory does not stop people from learning their mother tongue, and the solution is simply
applying memory techniques, which will enhance your memory in general. This has positive benefits
elsewhere in life, and many people find that learning a foreign language improves their memory. So if
you think you have a poor memory, this is a good way to start if you want to improve it. The final point
about language learning is that most people believe that learning is only for intellectuals yet everyone
has skills which were learnt; learning is a natural process that everybody does. The barrier is not
intellectual, it is emotional. Learning is easy, whether it is a language, a skill or a subject, you just need to
know how to do it, and become comfortable with the learning processes required. Once you learn to do
this, learning a language is no harder than learning to play a new computer game, a sport, or to learn to
drive a car. This book will teach you how to learn a language, how to learn in general, and how to
overcome your emotional obstacles.

The 20 hour challenge

In order to be good at something you need to spend 10,000 hours doing it. This is a rule which is
applied to musicians, You must do 10,000 hours of practice before the age of 10 to be a prodigy, to be
good at a sport you must do 10,000 hours of practice to be a national champ, etc. For some sense of
perspective on this number, 10,000 hours is the equivalent to working a full time job for five years. Like
the myths discussed above, this is one of those pieces of research which has been taken out of context,
misunderstood and exaggerated. The 10,000 hours myth is an old one, which has been doing the rounds
for years. In 2008, it was popularised by Malcolm Gladwells book, Outliers, a study of the most
successful people in the world and found that they needed about 10,000 hours to be world class in a
particular activity. The rule is irrelevant to us and is best forgotten anyone who has worked a full time
job for five years will tell you that it hasnt made them a world class authority in their particular field.
Focus, attention and using the right approaches are more important. Furthermore, when learning a
language we are not aiming to become world class linguists; to begin with we want to acquire basic skills
in communication and be able to talk to people. However, even if we did want to become a world class
expert in a foreign language, 10,000 hours is only an average. Some people become world class athletes
in substantially less time, just as some people appear to gain mastery in foreign languages much faster
than others. By using the right study techniques you can acquire knowledge and fluency much faster
than the average and you can become fluent in a few months of focused, regular study.

How long does it take to learn a foreign language?


The amount of time it takes to learn a foreign language depends on how much effort you put into the
language. If you study a little bit each day it should be possible to get to a reasonable level in about three
months, depending on the complexity of the language.
Languages tend to have a basic vocabulary of around 1000 words which is sufficient for basic everyday
activities. To have a basic vocabulary for each additional subject seems to require an additional 200
words. Most native speakers have an active vocabulary of 6,000 to 10,000 words with a passive
vocabulary of about 17,000 to 20,000.[5] A survey of Shakespeares works indicates that he used
approximately 15,000 different words.[6]

What should I aim for?


If you want a basic tourist knowledge of a language sufficient to ask directions, buy a tickets or a coffee,
you need to focus on functional language with a vocabulary of about 100 to 200 words and this will be
mostly learnt in key phrases:

Key phrases and words for tourist level language


Hello
How are you?
Goodbye
Excuse me, do you speak English?
How much is that (accompanied by a finger pointing to what you want)?
I would like that (accompanied by a finger pointing to what you want).
What is that called (again finger point)?
I would like
How do I get to?
Left

Right
Straight ahead
Is this the bus for?
Numbers 1 to 100, 500, 1000 (usually follow a pattern which is easy to learn).
What is your name?
My name is
Excuse me, can you help me?
Where is the toilet?
Is there are toilet here?
Is there a MacDonalds nearby (ie. Where is there a clean toilet?)?
Where is?
Where is the nearestSubway / underground / train station / bus station?
Stop here, please.
ATM
Could you please stop the bus?
Bus station
Train station
Where is there a taxi stand?
I understand.
I dont understand.
Could you repeat that please?
Can you speak more slowly please?
Restaurant
Caf
Hotel
Bus
Train
Car
Taxi
Breakfast
Lunch
Dinner
Wine
Beer
Bread
Cheese
Chocolate
Meat
Vegetables
Fruits
Yes
No!
This is an outrage!
That is too expensive!
I am calling the police!
I need an interpreter.

Learning these words you will have more than enough of the local language to be able to speak
confidently as a tourist. Most people can learn these phrases within a few hours. If you are travelling to a
country which has a different alphabet, take the time to learn it especially if the numbers are different.
Learn the numbers. It can save you a lot of money!
When I began learning Russian alphabet it took me an entire semester to master the alphabet. When
friends and relatives have visited me in Russia I usually took them for a walk through the central city
and as we walked I pointed out street signs and taught them to read in two hours. A foreign alphabet is
only six sets of five letters. Use the techniques outlined below to quickly develop associations for the
new letters. You should be able to master tourist level foreign language skills within five to ten hours
and it really is worth it. You might not be able to talk to the locals very well, but they will respond more

positively to you because you have made just a little effort to get to know them. To develop tourist level
skills you dont even need to do a course go to a library or go online to an online dictionary or
phrasebook and find these phrases and learn them. Dont use Google Translate or other online
translation software as it could lead you embarrassingly astray, but a phrasebook will teach you all you
need to know very quickly. Online dictionaries often have pronunciation guides or even voice
recordings so you can hear how words sound.
Developing tourist level skills is quick and easy, so my challenge to you is to spend 20 hours learning
your new language and increase your skills to a pre-intermediate or intermediate level. To achieve this,
build on your tourist know-ledge but extend it.

Pre-intermediate to intermediate knowledge


In addition to the words and phrases covered above, to increase your knowledge to an intermediate
level you should know the following:

Days of the week.

Months of the year.

Yesterday.

Today.

Tomorrow.

Time: how to tell the time, ask the time, agree on a time to meet.

Time: present tense, past tense, future tense. Some languages have a lot of tenses English,
for example has 12 tenses but most are never used in conversation. You need only know how
to talk about things that happened, things that are happening and things that will happen.

Connecting words: and, but, then, therefore, why, because, of course, really, however, perhaps.

Agreement and disagreement: I agree; I disagree; could you explain that? I am not sure I agree
with you; I think that ; it is more important that

Necessity: I must, it is important, it is necessary, I should.

Important verbs: these verbs will mostly be irregular, and you will need to learn them all in
past, present and future tenses. This can be done quickly though. Verbs you should know are: to
be, to go, to have, to eat, to drink, to speak, to read, to travel, to arrive, to leave, to meet, to
work, to study (know the names of several common subjects), to do sport (know the names of
several common sports).

Yourself: learn how to talk about yourself, what you do, what interests and hobbies you have,
your family. Then think of people you know and describe them, what they do, what interests
they have, what family they have, so that when talking with people you have a broader
vocabulary which is relevant not only to yourself but to other people.

Sightseeing vocabulary: learn the names of typical site-seeing locations and key events in your
countrys and their countrys history. You might want to know words like museum, church,
cathedral, square, road, boulevard, world war, revolution, types of music.

Natural environment: weather vocabulary (rain, sun, snow, hail, hot, cold, pleasant), the

seasons, river, plains, farmland, mountain, sea, coast, forest, tree.

City environment: people often like talking about their cities, so learn words appropriate to
the place (lovely historic centre, charming squares, nice parks, good shopping, nice restaurants).

Think about what conversations you might have with people based on your interests and the
places you are likely to visit and learn words and phrases associated with them.

Basic medicine and health: common illnesses, head-ache, stomach-ache, broken-arm, toothache, sharp pain, discomfort. Know enough basic words so that if you or a friend needs to see a
doctor you can say what the problem is.

Parts of the body: arm, leg, foot, nose, eye, ear, head, neck, lungs, stomach, back, finger, toe,
ankle.

Current events: look over a paper and take words that interest you from current events.
Choose an equal number of verbs and nouns nouns describe objects but verbs are the key to
being able to talk both are necessary. You might make a list of a hundred or so words and
phrases.

Learn the endings for regular verbs (in past, present and future tenses) and nouns.
Once you have done this you will probably have learnt a few hundred words. Well done! It should
only take about 20 to 30 hours if you follow the techniques described in this book. Once you have this
knowledge, you are well on the way to achieving competence and will be able to start reading papers
with a dictionary or books, and ultimately watching movies without sub-titles.
If you spend an hour a day, five days a week on this programme, within a month you could have an
intermediate level of skill in a foreign language. If you could keep that up in one year you could have
intermediate language skills in 12 different languages. Or you could be fluent in a couple of languages, if
you follow the guidelines and principles set out in this book. Accept the challenge and surprise yourself
with what you can achieve.

The structure of language


Before you begin a proper study of a foreign language there is some important information about how a
language is structured and the terminology used. Understanding this will make learning your foreign
language much easier and I include a brief explanation so that if the reference material you look at
doesnt explain it, you can check the information here to make sense of it all.

Words can be simply broken into four main groups:


1. Nouns: these are naming words; we use them for objects (cat, dog, fish; spoon, knife, fork) and ideas
(justice, freedom, philosophy).
2. Verbs: these are action words; we use them for activities such as reading, running, watching, talking.
3. Adjectives: these words describe nouns and include such words as good, bad, black, white, fluffy, sleek,
cunning, dense.
4. Adverbs: describe how an action is done; they give additional meaning to the verb and include
such words as quickly, quietly, angrily, suddenly.
For each group of words there are certain rules to guide you how to use them correctly. These rules
are called grammar. English has a simplified grammar; it has dispensed with many rules that are still
used in other languages, so it is important to have a basic understanding of what to expect with foreign
languages.

Nouns (naming words)


In many languages nouns come with a specific gender. In French, all nouns have masculine or feminine
gender even though in English they may be neither male nor female. In Russian, German and Latin
there are masculine, feminine and neuter genders. The word gender is misleading as grammatical gender
does not necessarily reflect the actual sex of an object man usually is masculine and woman is usually
feminine but even this is not guaranteed. To speak correctly you will need to know the gender of the
noun and learn it while learning the word.
In all European languages nouns usually have different endings to indicate one (singular) or more
than one (plural). eg. The dog sleeps outside, but the dogs sleep outside. In English the plural of the
noun is usually created by adding an s to the word, but notice that the form of the verb has also
changed.
The relationship of a noun to other words in a sentence is called its case. In English, case is
indicated by words accompanying the noun, called prepositions, such as to, for, of about, above, below, in.
This makes word order important in English but other languages, which do not have Englishs strict
word order, indicate case by changing the words ending. So the relationship of a noun to other words is
indicated not by a word in front of the noun, but by the way that the noun ends. This occurs in German,
Russian, Slavic languages in general, Latin and Ancient Greek among others. The key cases you will
come across are described below:
Nominative: This is the standard form that you will see in a dictionary. When it is used in a sentence
it indicates that it is the subject of the sentence, ie the word which is doing the action. In the sentence
the dog chased the cat, the dog is the subject and is therefore nominative case
Accusative: The accusative is used to indicate the receiver of the action of the verb. In the sentence

the dog chased the cat, the cat is the object of the sentence and is accusative case.
Genitive: The genitive indicates belonging and is often translated using of . In English this is called
possessive case. In the sentence the dog of my brother chased the cat, in a language such as Latin or
Russian of would not be used, Instead, the genitive form of the word brother would be used and
would read more like my brothers dog chased the cat.
Dative: The dative is usually used to indicate a giving action, known as the indirect object, in a
sentence such as I gave a present to my brother, to my brother would be dative case.
Instrumental: The instrumental is used for showing the instrument used and is usually translated
using by or with. In the sentence the dog chased the cat with a pitch-fork, with a pitch-fork
would be instrumental case.
Prepositional/Locative: The prepositional/locative is used to indicate that a word is connected to a
preposition. Often it is used for indicating where an object is located. For example in the sentence the
dog chased the cat around the house, the house would be in the prepositional or locative.
Each language has its own variations of these rules, for example, having groups of nouns that take
different endings to indicate case. These categories are called declensions, and you will learn more about
these when you start learning your language. This is a basic guide as to the sorts of grammar and
grammatical terms you can expect to encounter when studying foreign languages. This is not difficult
but is something you need to be aware of.

Verbs (doing words)


Verbs and nouns are the most vital elements in a language. Nothing can happen without a verb and a
noun. In most languages verbs take different forms to show how they are being used and whether the
action is in the past, present or future and also according to whether the subject is singular or plural and
the relationship of the subject to the speaker (this is called person). Verbs belong to groups called
conjugations which reflect how the verb is used and each conjugation has its own tenses. This is not
easily demonstrated in English, but in other European languages, different endings (called inflections)
are used to indicate number (ie singular or plural) and tense (past, present or future). A basic example in
English is:
Singular
Plural
1st Person
I run
We run
2nd Person
You run
You run
3rd Person
He/she runs They run
The following table shows what the same verb would look like in French and Russian.
French (present tense):
Singular
Plural
1st Person
Je cours
Nous courons
2nd Person
Tu cours
Vous courez
3rd
Person
Il/Elle court Ils/Elles courent
(m/f)

Russian (present tense)


Singular
1st Person
Ya begayu
2nd Person
Ti begayesh
3rd Person (m/f) On/Ona begayet

Plural
Mi begayem
Vi begayetye
Oni begayut

In most languages there is a slight variation on how a verb is conjugated depending on the tense. For
example in English run becomes ran or was running or had run in the past, and will run in
the future tense. When learning a foreign language there are usually only three or four tenses that are
crucial to learn. Pay attention to these first. For basic conversation you will need to use the present
tense, a past tense and a future tense.

Regular and irregular verbs


Verbs are broken down into a few common, regular conjugations and once you have learnt how a
conjugation is formed you can apply it to all of the other verbs in that group. There are a number of
verbs that are almost always irregular and need to be learnt separately. These usually include the most
frequently used verbs: to be (I am, you are, he/she is etc.), to do, to go, to have and a few others. Most
grammar books have lists of irregular verbs. Check the ones which seem to be most common and most
useful and use the techniques described in the following chapters to learn them. Knowing how to
conjugate verbs is something that can be quickly learnt and helps create the impression of competence
and ability when speaking.

Adjectives (added to nouns)


These words describe the nouns. In most languages in order to clearly demonstrate which noun an
adjective is attached to it will use the same grammatical form as the noun. Sometimes there are slight
variations to how an adjective is declined in comparison to its noun but in general, they follow the
same principles and patterns.

Adverbs (added to the verb)


Adverbs are usually the simplest words, they usually change their form with tense or gender, and it is
clear that they relate to the verb. Sometimes adjectives can be altered to form an adverb, as is the case in
English. Adding -ly to an adjective converts it into an adverb: sudden / suddenly, quiet / quietly, and
so on.
For advice on learning grammar please view the following chapters: Its all about memory and The tricky
bits.

Choosing a Language Course


By following the 20 Hour Challenge outlined above, you can teach yourself a new language without using
a language course. Language courses are useful although if you are aiming only at gaining a tourist
level of knowledge, you might find it faster and easier just to follow the guidelines listed above.
However, if you do want a language course, and I generally recommend it, you can usually find a
language teacher or a language school that will teach reasonably common and well known languages.
Not all of these schools will be equally suitable for you. Sometimes the level or the speed of the class is
inappropriate, sometimes the teacher doesnt inspire you or you find the coursework uninteresting.
Sometimes there are too many classes a week or too few. If you are serious about learning a language
and want to learn it the most efficient way possible, you will probably study almost everyday, whereas
most other people probably wont study at all. This can be frustrating and quickly leads to
disillusionment with language schools in general. Sometimes, if you are interested in learning an obscure
language there is no one available who can teach it to you.
So where do you go to learn a foreign language? The local library is often a good place to start as
you can look at the textbooks, listen to the audio material and decide whether the course is appropriate
for you. You may find that some courses are good for explaining the grammar, while others have a
greater focus on vocabulary. Others will place more emphasis on audio materials and pronunciation.
Have a look at what courses you like and either just borrow the books, or possibly buy them either
online or at a local bookshop. Whatever course you get, if you want to be able to have conversations in
your foreign language, the course must have audio support. While you can get additional materials from
the internet to improve your ear and your speech, the key element is being able to train your ear
immediately to hear your new language and get your mouth accustomed to making new sounds.
When evaluating a course, check that it does have a structure and that you can understand the
structure and the terminology it uses.
The next port of call for language courses is the internet. There are numerous websites that provide
free information and material for learning foreign languages. Do a search for the language that interests
you with keywords such as free course or language learning material. When you come across free
ebooks, audiobooks and songs (which you like) download them: you will be able to use this material at a
later date when you know your new language a little better. A good source for finding free educational
material online currently is www.openculture.com/freelanguagelessons.
The United States Foreign Service Institute has put a large amount of foreign language material on
the internet, including audio material, student books and work books. The courses seem to be well
structured and have enough material in several languages to get you to intermediate level which is
sufficient for you then to continue your studies independently. The courses present 1960s functional
language but their content is dull and a little old-fashioned. If you are curious about a language it can be
a good place to start, but you may find that you want to move onto a different course quite quickly. If
you stick with it though it will give you a good solid grasp of the basics. If you do a web search for
Foreign Service Institute and language courses you should find the website easily. The web address
at time of writing was www.fsi-language-courses.org.
The BBC also has basic language courses which provide you with a basic introduction to tourist level
languages this site is best viewed as providing supplementary material. Do a web search for BBC
foreign language materials to find the website. The current address is www.bbc.co.uk/languages.
Whatever language course you settle on, make sure it has audio and is structured. It should gradually

introduce you to new vocabulary and grammar. It should give you set phrases which are useful, such
things as My name is, How are you?, Where is the nearest bar?, Where can I buy pirated
software which doesnt have viruses on it? and other essential phrases that the inquisitive visitor cannot
live without. Such phrases are generally referred to as functional language and perfecting them is a key
to feeling confident in your new language.
Other courses which you might consider are the Accelerated Learning courses produced by Colin
Rose. These courses for French, German, Italian and Spanish use accelerated learning techniques which
are covered in this book to get beginners to intermediate level in about three months. I have found these
courses to be a good starting point. They have the additional advantage of being relatively cheap as well
as effective. The internet address at the time of writing was www.acceleratedlearning.com.
Another course is the Pimsleur Language Course which is a thorough and staged approach focusing
largely on correct pronunciation. The vocabulary instruction for the different languages follows the
same pattern, focusing largely on teaching people to chat up foreigners. This course can be a little slow
but I recommend it as an additional course to improve speaking abilities after doing a course that is
based more on written or auditory approaches. The current web address for Pimsleur is
www.pimsleur.com. Rosetta Stone and the Berlitz language courses also have good reputations for
teaching languages effectively.
Although on-line courses have the advantage of being responsive to your particular needs while
studying, I recommend using traditional textbooks, and printed materials, simply because you are less
likely to be distracted by Facebook, news, YouTube, emails and the dozens of other temptations which
direct internet access offers at the click of a mouse. Language learning is one activity that requires monotasking! You will make more progress, feel a greater sense of achievement, enjoy it more and
consequently, be more motivated.
Remember when choosing a course the key points are:
1. audio
2. structure
3. graduated grammar and vocabulary
4. interesting material
Use the techniques taught in this book and you should very quickly achieve a basic to intermediate
knowledge of your foreign language. This is sufficient to then start learning the language using
immersion techniques, talking to people, watching movies, listening to songs and reading books.

Motivation

So why do you want to learn a foreign language and how well do you want to learn it? If you want to
succeed you need to know your goals and you need to be inspired by them, otherwise on Wednesday
evening when tired from work, instead of sitting down to spend the half an hour you promised yourself
to spend every day, you end up watching Reality TV.
Set a goal for yourself that is realistic and inspiring. It is always good to have some reward attached to it.
For instance, you have decided that you want to visit the Inca monuments in Mexico next Christmas and
decide you want to learn Spanish before you go. The trip to Mexico is a goal and a reward for learning
Spanish. Sit down and decide how much Spanish you want to learn. If you are new to learning
languages, this might consist of attending six months of language courses at the local Spanish language
centre. Or you might decide that you want to work through two language courses at home using CDs
and MP3s. Another goal might simply be to get as good as you can by doing 30 minutes language
training a day.
If you have a goal of simply studying a certain amount of time per day, you must have a good reason for
doing it. So you need to be clear about why you want to study the foreign language.

Motivation task

Spend five minutes writing why you must achieve this goal and why this is crucial for your life:
This task enables you to motivate yourself to undertake the effort of learning your foreign language.
The process of writing down why you must achieve your goal, requires the use of your subconscious
mind, so this little exercise helps you to focus on what you want and why you want it. Consequently,
your goals motivate you more. When writing the goal, specify what it is, when you want to achieve it and
how you will achieve it. Include as many reasons as possible why you want to achieve it. These reasons
could be linked with your personal development goals, personal life, or career development. If the
language is linked with the sort of life you want to have, and the sort of person you want to be, it will be
much more motivating than if it remained as something which would be kind of cool to know.
This will help with motivation and if your subconscious believes that learning your foreign language is
important and necessary to you, you will find it easier to learn.
Remember that learning a foreign language requires a time commitment, but the time spent can often
be fun: it can include watching movies, meeting new people and making new friends, eating nice food,
travelling either to learn or to reward yourself, listening to music and reading books you like or
information you find interesting. The more enjoyable things you do with your language, the easier it
becomes and the better you learn it.
Write down your goal:
Why you want it:
To be achieved by (date): ....
How to do it: ..

How to learn a foreign language: Basic Principles

Before looking at the specific techniques that can be used for learning foreign languages, it is worth
going over some basic learning theory so you know how to apply the techniques and know what to
expect.
Any form of learning, whether it is a skill, hobby, sport, academic subject or language requires
application and consistency. Ideally you should decide how many hours you want to commit to learning
and stick to this. Planning a specific time for language learning is helpful. If sometimes you miss this,
then you can make it up at another time or if you are unable, breaking the routine once in a while
wont hurt, just make sure you maintain regular language study.
When studying, avoid distractions. Turn off the computer and the cell phone, study at a time when
other people are less likely to demand your attention and when you mind is recovered early morning
works for some people, while late at night works for others. People learn best when focused and engaged
in learning.
Unless you are thoroughly engaged, concentration can take effort and after a certain period the mind
starts to wonder. To make your study more focused keep your study periods to sessions of 45-60
minutes and take a break in the middle, so that you are only concentrating for 20-30 minute blocks at a
time. You might even want to take a break every 15 minutes.
The learning process is often portrayed as a four step process going from unconscious ignorance, to
conscious ignorance, to conscious ability to unconscious ability (otherwise referred to as mastery). This
model of learning has become very popular as it provides a nice trajectory of skill acquisition. The
model doesnt really reflect the language learning experience. When learning a language you are liable to
experience learning curves and plateaus. The concepts of ability and competence become very specific.
When we talk about fluency people often think of someone who can speak a language like a native, that
is, quickly and easily, but someone can speak fluently ungrammatically. Similarly, fluency depends on
familiarity with subject matter, on mood and on tiredness.
When you first start learning a language the first stages are likely to seem very difficult especially if
the language is substantially different from your native tongue. This creates a steep learning curve where
you need to become familiar with a large quantity of new information (alphabet, pronunciation,
vocabulary, and grammar). The techniques in this book will help you achieve this more easily and
quickly but it is best to be forewarned: the initial stages of learning a foreign language can be
intimidating. This is when learning a foreign language is hardest. Study in short bursts, avoid mental
fatigue and be persistent. You will break through the difficulty.
After each steep learning curve you will reach a plateau where you seem not to be advancing, but in
fact are consolidating what you have achieved in the recent steep ascent, and before you being the rise to
the next level. With time the steepness of the learning curve reduces and the energy and time required to
learn the new information reduces.
While the steep learning curves can be discouraging, the plateaus can be just as risky. With a steep
curve, you can feel that you are learning something, but when you start to plateau you no longer have a
sense of reward that you are learning something new and consequently can lose interest. If the plateau
represents a level of ability with which the learning feels comfortable people might sometimes stop
learning. Their knowledge is sufficient for what they need and therefore they dont try to improve it.
If you find that you are at a plateau and dont seem to be making any improvements, then that means
it is time to find a new challenge and perhaps change the techniques you are using to some of the more

advanced techniques mentioned later in this book.

Learn anywhere
When it comes to studying new material it is best to find a quiet place where you can focus without
distractions or interruptions. However, revision can be done anywhere. If you make flashcards or
vocabulary lists you can revise these when travelling in public transport. You can listen to audio material
when travelling too. However, revision is a mental process and you dont need to have any resources
with you to do it. Mentally recall vocabulary, have conversations with yourself. Recall the last
conversation you had with someone and see if you can have the same conversation in your foreign
language.

Its all about memory: memory tricks


With any luck most of the vocabulary you learn when studying will be learnt almost as a process of
osmosis, from context, much like you learnt English as a child and how you continue to add words to
your vocabulary without really noticing it today. However, there may be times when learning words
quickly is really useful and maybe even critical: before an exam, or before going to a doctor, it can be
useful to swot up on the words you need to know. Lets do a small test:

Task: Remember this list of foreign words


English
Cat
Dog
Bird
Horse
Elephant
Wolf
Cow

French
chat
chien
oiseau
cheval
lphant
loup
vache

Russian
koshka
sobaka
ptitsa
loshad
slon
volk
korova

Images, Associations and Stories


Test yourself on these words. How long did it take you to learn them? And how did you memorise
them? If you are like most people you simply repeated the words over and over again until you could
recite them without looking. Some words like chat and lphant you learnt more quickly because of their
similarity to English. The Russian words were probably harder for you to remember than the French
words too. However, despite these difficulties, you probably learnt the list quite quickly.
This is because repeating the words over and over again has loaded them into your short-term memory,
which only retains 5 2 things at any one time. If the list consisted of twenty words, it would take
substantially longer to remember, as it overloads short-term memory. So when learning vocabulary, it
helps if you break long lists down into short lists of about five words. However, there is more we can do
to simplify learning these words.

Quick steps for memorising vocabulary:


1. Find associations which are easy to remember, similarities between languages can make this easier.
2. Learn small lists of up to seven words
3. Create funny and amusing images that you remember see below
The most common approach recommended for learning vocabulary now is to come up with very
clear visual images for each word. Visual memory has been demonstrated to be much more accurate
and reliable than other forms of memory even for people who are not visual people. While the
technique can be difficult for some to learn to do initially, it becomes easier with practise until it reaches
the point that it becomes second nature and happens automatically.
People tend to remember things better when they are relaxed and when they are having fun, so come
up with a scene that is funny, absurd, perhaps slightly sexualised to attach to the word or words you are
learning. It helps if you have a little story to accompany each of the words.

For example: with the words above


Chat: Imagine Andrew Lloyd Webbers famous musical Les Chats, and you can imagine the chats sitting
on the rooftops slinking from roof to roof and singing.
Chien: Think of a black, lean, hungrychien traipsing around after a rotund, cigar smoking, whisky
drinking Winston Churchill, and le chien howling whenever Churchill refuses to let le chien follow him to
Parliament a reference to Churchills description of depression as a black dog (le chien noir) following
him about.
Oiseau: Here perhaps you can think of an oiseau sitting on a rooftop while un chat and un chien stealthily
creep up on it. However, the oiseau hears them coming and with a shout of wazo! flies into the air.
Cheval: Here we might have a hunchbacked, malignant looking Richard III running after un cheval and
crying out un cheval, un cheval, my kingdom for un cheval!
Elephant: Here, you might have an Indian-looking Richard III with a turban falling off his head running
through the jungle crying un lphant, un lphant, my kingdom for un lphant!
Loup: Have you ever seen a wolf performing the loup the loup in a bi-plane being chased by Red Ridinghood dressed up as the Red Baron? Or perhaps being chased by Snoopy?
Vache: The cheval and the lphant were whispering to each other and laughing, and la vache looked on
uncomfortably eventually la vache came up and asked them what the joke was, but le cheval gave la vache
a haughty look and said, you would not understand, you are only a cow.
The stories and images suggested above work similarly for the Russian. However, if you have the
inclination to look at the etymologies of words, this will give you a deeper under-standing of the
language and also will tell you true stories behind the words, which will help you remember them. For
example, the Russian word for elephant is slon. This word is derived from the Turkish word aslan,
meaning lion. It is clear that some traveller got his words mixed up when he came back from the Orient
and ever since, lions have been elephants in Russia!
One of the things about creating lists and stories is that you can include other words in the list to act
as reinforcement. As your vocabulary and knowledge of the language increases you can include more of
the descriptions and exclamations in your foreign language, so Richard IIIs phrase would become un
cheval, un cheval, mon royaume pour un cheval! This has the advantage of adding additional words to your

vocabulary and as it is a famous quotation from Shakespeare it sticks in the mind, so if ever you need to
refer to a kingdom you know that it is un royaume.
You might be inclined to think that devising such stories and images is hard and a waste of time. It is
easier for some people than others, but it is a skill and with practice it becomes quick and easy.
Furthermore, it is a very effective way of memorising words and bringing them into long-term memory.
Having thought of the story you only need to repeat the word a couple of times to remember it. Because
the stories are in their own way a little amusing, it brings a lightness and levity to the language learning
process which is more fun than writing lines and repeating words. If the images also amuse you, you may
also find yourself revising the images just for the amusement it gives you which in turn reinforces the
language.
Another approach that you might like to use to help place images with words is to run image searches
in Google Images for your vocabulary. This gives you visual representations for how that language
represents a particular word, which gives insights into the actual use and meaning of the word as well as
the culture.

Repetition
The more frequently we repeat information the better it sticks, but that can take a lot of time. There are
ways to make this more cost effective. Reinforcing it at intervals after the initial learning session is
necessary. Go over material the next day, go over it at the end of the week, go over it at the end of the
month, and this helps reinforce it in long-term memory.

Hearing the sounds


Another key point is to learn how the word should sound before you sit down to learn it. Many online
sites have audio recordings of how words sound so you can hear it, or if you are learning with an audio
course, you will have recordings of the vocabulary you are learning.[7] When you see the word, you
should associate with the image or story you have created with the word, and you should listen to how
the word is correctly pronounced. This will help you when you listen to people speaking, and it will also
help with your own pronunciation when you start speaking. It is important to hear the sound of the
language because no alphabet truly represents the way the language sounds. So take care that you learn
the proper sound of each word at the same time as you memorise its meaning.

Personalise the imagery


When coming up with images for new vocabulary, you can also associate the words in your foreign
language with associations that you already have. If you are learning the word for grandmother you can
imagine your own grandmother and even picture yourself talking to her in your foreign language, using
the new word. The more personal memories you associate with a language the more personal the
language will become to you.

Task: Improving memory


Learn the following eight words, using the techniques outlined above. If you have other vocabulary you
want to learn, feel free to use this.
English

French

Russian

man
woman,
wife
to
go,
leave, go
away
always,
still
day,
daytime
weather;
time;
times
now,
nowadays
life,
lifetime,
existence

homme
femme

chelovek
zhenshina;
zhena

partir

ukhodit

toujours

vsegda

jour

den

temps

pogoda;
vremya

maintenant seichas
vie

zhizn

Tips
1. Break the list into two lists
2. For verbs (action words) imagine the action being carried out by other words you are learning.
For example: the man always leaves in good weather (or good time), lhomme toujours partir in good
temps.
This sentence is not grammatically correct, and it is not entirely French but it doesnt need to be. The
important thing is for you to be able to associate ideas with the words. As you learn more about the
grammar and the language you can make more grammatically correct sentences, in this case lhomme
toujours part en temps voulu.
This is an important stage too, as it gets you accustomed to the idea of creating sentences in your
foreign language. One of the main problems for people who have been taught vocabulary and grammar
together is that they focus on trying to speak correctly rather than focusing on speaking. You can only
speak correctly through practice. Trying to speak correctly immediately slows you down and is
unnecessary for others to understand you. It is better to speak a grammatically incorrect sentence
fluently than to speak a grammatically correct sentence that took two minutes to say five words. You
learn faster if you speak first and add grammar later.

Flash cards

Flash cards have been a popular learning technique for years. You can use them anywhere and they are
an excellent way of testing and revising your vocabulary. You can also include useful grammatical
information as well as pronunciation on them so you remember how to use and pronounce the word.
Traditionally people will write the English for the word they want to learn on one side of the card and
on the other side write the translation, grammatical and pronunciation information. You are more likely
to remember this information if you are able to illustrate as much of it as possible. So instead of using
an English word you could use a picture instead. If you are artistically inclined you can draw the
picture yourself, or, if you are making the cards on your computer, you can insert an image from Google
Images (or even use your own photographs if you have any) and use that to trigger the foreign
vocabulary. This replicates how children learn words and helps create direct associations with the
objects in the foreign language, instead of accessing the foreign language constantly through your native
language.
Apply the same principle for grammatical information. You can represent different genders by using
different colours or images, include pronunciation information and the correct spelling of the word as
well.
If you are trying to learn a conjugation, place the verb in a sentence. Try writing the entire sentence in
your foreign language. For example if you want to learn the verb to go (aller in French) on one side of
the flash card you can write Marcel _____ (aller) la place. Add any visual information you can onto the
card, which might include a stick figure walking to a square so that you have a pictorial meaning for the
phrase and the conjugation you are learning. On the other side you can then write the correct
conjugation, Marcel va la place. Add any additional grammatical and pronunciation information you
need.
When learning the other parts of the conjugation you can either use the same general phrase Vous
allez la place or alter it to include a larger vocabulary Vous allez la gare, Marcel et Irne (ils) vont au
restaurant. The advantage of using phrases is as you use more of the language, you create additional
meaning and because you are seeing the words in use, you are also absorbing additional grammatical
information. Although, you are only trying to learn the conjugation of a ller, you are also reinforcing the
meaning of words such as la place, la gare, and le restaurant which also reminds you of their gender. The
sentence also shows you that you need to use the preposition when using the verb aller. If you want to
add additional grammar to the sentence you could try Nous nallons pas souvent au restaurant, literally
We dont often go to the restaurant but also having the meaning We dont go out to dinner often.
In this example we get to see the use of the negative ne . . . pas, the use of souvent, often and the use
of au instead of le all important points of grammar to be able to use comfortably.
If you are only just beginning the language and the language seems very foreign and difficult (it might
use a foreign alphabet for example) you might initially feel more comfortable writing the prompt side of
the flash card in English Marcel ____ (aller) to the square, or even Marcel goes to the square.
However, as you will be speaking the foreign language, not attempting to translate it, try to keep as
much of your revision material in the foreign language as possible.

Linking words
A variation on this technique is to learn words in pairs, so instead of just having a story about one word,
you have a story and an image involving two. This happens almost naturally and I have already shown
examples of this technique. This system is more effective because words are often meaningless without
context. By placing them into a story with other words, you provide yourself with more information
about the word and its usage. This becomes more useful as you become better acquainted with the
language and subtleties start to appear which will be useful to know.

Memory palaces
Famous since the times of the Greeks, a memory house is a very powerful aid to memory. This is a
variation of memory-by-association described above. It works by associating items with a location.
Humans have excellent geographic memory even if we do not remember where we left our keys.
Linguists often prefer the image or story technique to memory houses but you might find that for
remembering items normally associated with a house, on the boat or in the garage, a memory palace or a
memory house is an easy way to proceed. For example if you need to remember domestic items, cutlery,
bed, linen, household utensils, bread-maker, etc., visualise these items where you normally keep them in
your home and remember their names and pronunciation. Imagine yourself using them and using them
by their name in the language you are learning.
People who use memory palaces a lot either use a number of different buildings to help store all the
information they want to remember, or add additional rooms to their house, turning it into a palace.
This technique can be very effective but if you are expanding your house to incorporate other items, it is
best to use this system constantly so you are familiar with your fictitious memory house, otherwise you
might forget which rooms you have added and what are in them!
At first stick to your own house, fill it and furnish it with sofas and carpets and anything else of an
everyday vocabulary that you might need or want. You can combine this with the earlier technique, of
having an incident occur in one of your rooms. For example, dinner-party conversational vocabulary can
be associated with the dining room, as well as table, chairs, wall-hangings, cutlery and so on.

Language towns and countries

The language town is an extension of the concept of a memory palace using geographical locations and
associating foreign words with familiar places. For example, when learning vocabulary associated with
city features think of those features of the city that you are most familiar with, so when you come across
the word for church, you think of your local church and associate the foreign word with it, so the next
time you think of a church, you will think of the church you are most familiar with and immediately
associate the foreign word that you want. If you then need to remember various items associated with
religion you can locate them within that church. Of course, if you are to memorise items within a
building, the more familiar you are with the building the better. This method can be a very simple and
effective way of memorising items in your world. Having named all of the buildings in your city in your
foreign language you can go further afield, naming the fields, the forests, hills, mountains, rivers, lakes
and seas based on surroundings familiar to you. This will also give you a sense of familiarity with your
foreign language which will help put you at ease when speaking.

Mind Maps
If you want to cover a general topic area, a mind map is an effective way to associate key ideas.
Pioneered by Tony Buzan [8] the mind-map technique relies on connecting associations and triggering
visual memory by adding colour and imagery to your information. Memory maps or mind maps are
particularly useful for connecting information which is linked not by linear logic but by associations.
You can combine mind maps with language towns and countries to create additional visual references.
Mind maps are a fast way of mapping out associated information. By adding doodles, pictures and
colours, these images stick in your memory more clearly and can help trigger your memory when you
want information. They have the additional advantage in that they can be posted to the wall to act as
reminders and ready references for material you have covered. They are also a very quick way of
prompting your mind when you are revising work that you have done previously.

If a word is really similar or the same as the English, I dont need to learn it?
I wish. The words which I have always had the most trouble remembering in Russian are the words
which are spelt the same as or are based on English. Because it is the same word I didnt think I needed
to learn it because I understood it immediately. This is false knowledge because whenever I tried to use
the word, I could not remember how it should be pronounced in Russian. Learn every word: it is easy
and can be done quickly, and having learnt it correctly, it will always be there.

Languages that are dissimilar


All of these techniques can help increase the speed with which you learn vocabulary but it is important
to remember that they require practice for you to use effectively. You will also notice that words that are
more similar to languages you already know are easier to learn even with these techniques than those
that you are unfamiliar with. For example, with French most beginners will be aware that bonjour means
hello and it takes little effort to learn that bon means good and jour means day. If you are learning
Russian however, you will quickly encounter such words as (zdravstvyite) for hello.
Initially this will take longer to learn than a similar word in any of the Romance or Germanic languages.
Unfamiliarity with the Russian alphabet tends to make it harder to remember such words and it appears
to be largely a random collection of meaningless squiggles. The more meaning you can add to a word
the better, so it is helpful if you can break a word into smaller sections, which can then be assigned
meaning. With (zdravstvyite) it is helpful to know that the root is (zdrav) means
health and that the yite ending is an imperative (or instruction) and so the word zdravstvyite means be
healthy. This additional information helps but can be difficult for the learner to find most textbooks
do not include etymological information. This is where teachers can assist as they should be aware of the
etymology of words and how to break them down into more understandable parts.
However, in cases like this students need to recognise that learning some words will simply be harder
in some languages than in others. Applying the techniques described, even hard words should come
more easily.

Accelerated learning
Accelerated learning was first popularised by Colin Rose [9] and although his research appears sound,
many of his ideas and approaches have not yet become commonplace. Often people attempt clumsily to
implement his approaches, leading to unsatisfactory results. However, when used appropriately
accelerated learning is an effective way of speeding up the learning process.
Roses approach involves six key stages:
1. Being in a relaxed and attentive state so you respond receptively to new information. This is
sometimes referred to as being in an open state. This state is also essential for creativity and scientific
inquiry. It tends to be more curious and playful.
2. Being familiar with material in your own language first, so you dont feel out of your depth. For
example if you understand how verb tenses work in English, it will be easier for you to understand how
other languages do it.
3. Triggering associations and images to make material more memorable. This helps to activate the
subconscious mind which then absorbs information more readily. Since speaking is largely a
subconscious action we very rarely think about what we are actually saying it is at the subconscious
level that we best absorb the new information.
4.
Triggering the mammalian brain. The mammalian brain is located in the hippocampus deep
inside the brain. It is often referred to as the most primitive part and is responsible for long-term
memory. It responds largely to emotions and can be triggered by music.
5 . Repetition. Repeating the material so that the information is transferred from short-term
memory to long- term memory.
6. Activation. Exercises to use the information you have learnt so it moves from passive knowledge
to active and becomes accessible when communicating with people.

Applying accelerated learning to language.


If you are interested in learning French, Italian, German or Spanish you can purchase the accelerated
learning language courses developed by Colin Rose. There are also other courses available that are based
on his techniques, but these principles can be applied regardless of which language course you use.
Think of learning languages as a hobby and as fun. These techniques for remembering information
help stimulate your creativity and become enjoyable and addictive. As these techniques require creativity
to do them well, you need to be relaxed, and because you are relaxed when doing them, the learning
process is pleasurable. The associations you make to remember information are amusing and it becomes
a way of entertaining yourself. People used to do all sorts of intellectual pursuits (collecting beetles,
painting, studying rocks, bird watching) as hobbies in their spare time for fun, and by mastering these
techniques you can amuse yourself for hours and enjoy your spare time doing something you want to
do.

Beginnings
Sit down and relax, put on some background music (not music that makes you want to jump up and
dance!), close your eyes and take a deep breath. Imagine being at your favourite place, ideal for
relaxation. People often imagine lying in the sun at the beach with the sound of water lapping in the
distance. Take a deep breath and start counting down from ten. Slowly breath in and out and just
imagine in as much detail as you can being at that favourite place.
When you reach one, open your eyes and begin studying, retaining that relaxed and comfortable state.

Overview of work you will do for the day


1. Look over the material you will be working on and decide what specifically you will do. Most
language courses have a conversation or a translation, which contains key vocabulary.
2. Look over the vocabulary, quickly checking what each word means.
3. Then look at the translation or conversation exercise. If you have audio for the exercise, play the
audio and read the text simultaneously.
4. Play the audio a couple of times associating the spelling of each word with the pronunciation in
the recording.
5. Go over the text and make sure you understand it, translate it if necessary.
6. Read over the text so you are familiar with it.
7. Listen to the audio again, now that you are familiar with its meaning, and read the original text as
you listen.
8. Play relaxing music in the background (Colin Rose recommends baroque music; you should be
able to find something appropriate by doing a search on baroque music in YouTube) and play the
audio recording of the text, close your eyes and imagine the people, items and events described in the
audio text. The more ridiculous and exaggerated you imagine the text to be the more easily it will be
remembered. If you have some text about going to a shop to buy some meat, create a customer who is
an exaggerated stereotype, when he says hello imagine him bowing to the floor, exaggerate everything
and make it absurd and funny. It is your imagination: use it to create something that you find funny and
memorable.

9. Play the audio recording another two times with the music running in the background. The final
time you listen to the audio recording, reduce the volume of the reading and increase the volume of the
background music so they are approximately the same volume. This way your conscious mind can barely
detect the language and it is absorbed at a subconscious level.
10. Relax and move on with your day.

The following day go through the following steps

1. Do your relaxation exercises before starting to study


2. Read over the text or your translation of the text
3. Listen to the recording with background music, and reading the text in the foreign language.
4.
Listen to the recording with background music, with your eyes closed and remembering the
imagery of the story.
5. Move onto grammar and writing exercises included in the textbook you are using. This will help
activate the vocabulary, so that you will be able to use it in person.
6. Go through the story and write down any words or phrases that you consider important. You will
probably already know the majority of them by now. If you know them, great, if not, learn them using
the techniques outlined in the chapter on memory techniques.
Each days work should take about an hour. Using this technique some people can absorb a
vocabulary of about 50 to 100 words a day without deliberately trying to learn.[10] However, the key is
to relax, when learning any subject the more mistakes you make, the faster you learn. The only mistake
you can make is to try not to make a mistake. Perfection slows you down dramatically. Feel free to make
mistakes, and be gratified when something comes out perfectly or almost perfectly. When it does,
reinforce it! So it comes out perfectly next time too.
On the third day, before going onto the next lesson, listen to the text again to jog your memory, and
then apply the instructions for the first day to the next days work.

Perfecting pronunciation
If you wish to add an additional step to this process, spend another 10 minutes a day listening to the text
with background music playing. After every few sentences, pause the text and repeat, you can even use a
dictaphone or the recording function on a cell-phone or your computer to record yourself to compare
your pronunciation with that in the professional recording. By spending ten to twenty minutes a day
focusing purely on pronunciation you will quickly develop good pronunciation.

Master a foreign language in six months


This section covers several key approaches for taking you from a pre-intermediate level to fluency in six
months. The chapter includes key things you need to accept and do to achieve this, while subsequent
chapters will provide tasks that will make this possible. This section is drawn from conversations with
psychologists, polyglots and my personal experiences learning and teaching foreign languages.

Be Relaxed
As mentioned above, one of the keys to learning languages is being relaxed. If you are relaxed, attentive
and curious, you can enjoy playing with language, making bilingual jokes (which you can do at even a
basic level because one word can mean two different things in different languages), exploring new
constructions, and seeing how words can be put together.

Make mistakes

As part of this playful and relaxed approach to language you will make errors, and that enables you to
see how the language fits together. Being able to play and have fun with your languages helps you to
learn them quickly. Another important element about giving yourself permission to make mistakes and
be wrong, is that the brain constantly filters information. Part of this filtering process is looking for
sounds and noises we recognise and filtering out those we dont recognise. If you have ever been in an
international group of people you might have had the experience of hearing a background mumble of
nonsense which makes no sense to you at all, then one or two words pop out of that noise which you
recognise. Your brain filters everything you hear very effectively and it is used to sift sense from
nonsense. When you first start learning a foreign language, your brain will try to filter your foreign
language and the sounds you notice will be those that are similar in your own language. When you speak
the foreign language you may feel that the sounds you are speaking are wrong, because they are not
sounds we have in English. This is a good sign, by making these mistakes initially you are actually
learning to speak correctly.

Understand that the alphabet is only representational


Think about the English alphabet for a moment. Consider words such as though and tough, lamp and
lamb, kind and kindle. Alphabets are an attempt to represent the language in written form. Letters act as
representations and whether you have individual letters or sound groups each is effectively a character
which possesses its own pronunciation. If you try to learn a language only from its written form, you
will not speak it correctly. Being literate in a foreign language is important, but this must be done with
the assistance of audio materials, otherwise you will end up with incorrect pronunciation.
When you are learning a new word, make sure you can hear it as you form the images and
connections. This means that you will learn it correctly the first time and your reference point for how
the word sounds will be based on how a native speaker pronounces it and not how you read it or tried
to pronounce it.

Learn relevant vocabulary


Learn vocabulary that is relevant to the person you are. If you want to learn a language to be able to
carry out business negotiations, then sitting down and learning all of the vocabulary associated with art
history is probably not going to help you. Similarly, if you want to talk about Italian cuisine, you will not

be motivated to master the vocabulary for a book on geopolitics. There is a core language that you need
to know, which has relevance to everyday life, but beyond that, study the things you enjoy and like doing
in your foreign language. If it is relevant and meaningful to you and what you want to do, then you will
learn more easily and you will be more motivated to learn. Again enjoying foreign entertainment
(mentioned in the section on immersion) is a good way of enjoying the language and improving it. Make
the language valuable to the person you are by associating it with things you value. Whether those values
are financial, cultural or spiritual, be sure that there is emotional value attaching you to the language. If
you have positive associations linking you to the language you learn faster and master the language
better.
Go through topics of conversation that interest you, look up the relevant vocabulary and prepare
conversations based on your interests, and practise them. You could wait till you meet a native speaker
and slowly learn these through conversation, but it is faster to prepare material in advance and learn it
thoroughly, then when you speak with a native speaker it will be a matter of refinement and
reinforcement and you will have more satisfactory conversations.
To gain fluency quickly, focus on the most frequently used words. In English, for example, if you
know 1000 words you can say 85 percent of everything you need to say on any day. If you know 3000
words, you can say 98 percent of everything you need to say on any day.

Learn about roots and cognates


Many languages have words that are similar or the same. Sometimes these roots are a result of the
languages being derived from a common language, such as the similarities between Spanish, French and
Italian derived from Latin, or English and German derived from Germanic. Sometimes they are the
result of cultural interaction such as French words in Russian, or English words associated with
technology in most modern languages today. Be aware of similarities between words in different
languages, because they can help considerably with comprehension. For example French and English
share about 2000 words which though not identical, are recognisable and have the same or similar
meaning, for example family and famille. Russian and French similarly share a large number of
words which are related to education, high culture and city life in the 18th and 19th centuries. When you
know about these similarities and when cultures had the greatest influence on each other it becomes
possible to guess at meanings when you dont know the words yourself.
Similarly, within a language words will often have a root or a stem which has a basic underlying
meaning, and then has additional bits added to them which alter the meaning slightly and/or create
more precise meanings. When you know the root word and its meaning you can often guess at the
meaning of other words that use it, based on context. This is particularly useful if you are learning a
number of languages from the same original language. By learning what the original root of the word
was, you can suddenly understand the equivalent word in half a dozen languages. For example, in
English we have the words donation, donate, donative, donor. If you know the word donate you can
guess that the other words have a meaning connected with giving. However, if you also know that the
English word is derived originally from the Latin donare meaning to present as a gift then we are not
surprised to see that the French donner means to give. In other Romance languages the word has been
shortened to dare in Italian, and dar in Portuguese and Spanish. And although Russian is not a Romance
language it is an Indo-European language with the same roots as Latin, and consequently, it is not
surprising to find that dar in Russian means gift with similar words appearing in other Slavic
languages. There are several words in Russian that are based on dar including darit to give, udarit to
give a blow or in more natural English to strike, podarok a present, and dan tribute. By learning
the root of a word we often learn several more words associated with it and can also increase our general
vocabularies for related languages. The association created by the etymology can also help with
remembering the word. Etymologies give you a better understanding of the language, putting it in a
historical context, which amplifies your under-standing and your expertise.

Immerse yourself in the language


To help develop your ear, immerse yourself in the language. If you can get hold of some vocal music in
the language you are learning, play it constantly to help become accustomed to the sounds of the
language. Pop music is particularly useful as the lyrics are usually repeated numerous times and the
music helps activate the mammalian brain helping to trigger emotions and remember the sounds.
Watch television and movies, particularly movies that you have already seen in English. Because you
have seen the movie before, you know what is going on and will understand from context what is being
said. When you have comprehension, the language is absorbed automatically. You will learn easily and
effortlessly.

Talk, communicate and use the language

By using the language you reinforce to yourself that the language is of value. It also provides important
practice using the language for its main purpose, communication. At the early stages of language
acquisition it can be very hard to start speaking. However, you need to start at some stage, and the
sooner you do it the better. However, there are some linguists who speak a language perfectly although
they rarely get the opportunity to use it. So it is not obligatory that you converse to practise and use the
language, merely advantageous.
Ways of enhancing your language skills initially can include having pen pals to write to. This gives you
practise in expression and comprehension without the pressure of face-to-face encounters. This is a great
way to build confidence. Although some recommend talking immediately, I believe it is useful to
practice writing initially, so you become familiar with the vocabulary you will be using. You can also
prepare topic conversations where you imagine a complete conversation and prepare it, checking the
vocabulary and grammar. Practise and memorise these conversations and when you start talking, you
will find that you can discuss these prepared conversations fluently and with fewer mistakes.
Talking to yourself has long been considered a sign of madness, but it might just be sign of genius
too. By talking to yourself in your foreign language you mentally rehearse conversations so that when
you are put on the spot, the words come easily and naturally. Another effective way of learning to speak
well and confidently is memorising poetry or passages of prose. This can be done quickly and will be
discussed in the section on specific advanced techniques.
However, making friends with someone who speaks your target language is a good and rewarding way
of learning. Regardless of where you live you can often find someone from a foreign country in need of
a friend. They can help you learn their language and you can help them find their feet in your country.
Friendship is mutual and the benefits of such a friendship can be positive, both culturally and
linguistically. How to find friends and techniques they can use to help you learn will be discussed later.

Comprehension leads to language acquisition


When learning to speak, there will be much you dont know. It doesnt matter; a lot of communication is
not verbal. Meaning is conveyed by tone, pitch, facial expressions, and gestures. Words provide specific
meaning, and while vital for precise understanding, they sometimes play a secondary place in
comprehension.

Control your emotions


Learn to stay relaxed, curious and playful (how to do this will be discussed at length below). If you get
anxious when you dont understand, language learning will be frustrating and scary. When you feel as if
you are becoming locked up and tense when studying, relax. Drink a cup of tea, go outside for a stroll
and come back with a fresh mind. Remember, even in English you dont have 100 percent
comprehension. You might think you do, but whenever someone speaks to you, the words they use
convey a peculiar meaning which is the result of their personal experience, values and beliefs. For
example, the phrase, I studied at university for five years, literally means what it says, but it may imply
many other things that the speaker assumes. It may mean that the speaker has achieved both a Bachelors
and Masters degree, or it may mean that he went to university for five years without completing a
course of study, or he might be saying he wasted five years of his life. So relax when you dont
understand something, and relax when you end up saying something that seems silly to other people: it
will make a great story when you know the language well enough to tell it!

Watch the face

Pay attention to how people speak, watch their faces, watch their lips and absorb how they are speaking.
There are 43 muscles in the face and they all need to be coordinated to create the right sounds in a
foreign language. By watching how people speak we learn how to speak without an accent. In the back of
our brains there is a special group of receptors called mirror neurons. These neurons are an important
part of what makes us social beings. They perceive input and reflect what they say on your own body.
This is why when you see that a friend is sad, you feel sad yourself. It is also the reason yawns are
contagious, others behaviour is reflected in you. In the same way, if you pay attention to how people use
their faces when they talk, you will subconsciously experience the same use of muscles. At a
subconscious level the facial features are associated with the words that are spoken, and we learn entirely
subconsciously how to speak from other people. However, the degree to which we mirror the behaviour
of people depends on how we relate to them. If the level of empathy is very low (which is a defence
mechanism), then it becomes harder to learn the language. People who are hostile or fearful of the
culture or the people whose language they are studying will find it harder to learn to speak well. To
some extent, your ability to speak the language well depends on your acceptance of the culture and your
desire to go native and become like the locals.

Making friends and talking


Most of the techniques so far discussed can be learnt and practised in solitude. However, one of the
main reasons for learning a foreign language is to be able to talk to people from other cultures and while
one can attain a high degree of mastery through study, learning is more fun if you learn from a native
speaker
So where do you find native speakers and how do you make friends with them? If you live in a large
metropolis, it is simply a matter of going to the local mall or the central city and waiting until you hear
someone speaking your target language. Approach them and ask them who they are and where they are
from in their native language and they will usually respond positively. If you live in a less international
city one place to try is the local ethnic restaurant, if you are learning Greek visit a Greek restaurant, if
you are learning Hindi try the local Indian restaurant. They often have staff employed from the
community and it will give you an opportunity to speak to them in their native language. Often people
will be interested in talking to you if you are learning a language and this can be used as a basis for
learning more. However, it is important that you show interest both in your new acquaintances and their
culture if it becomes clear that you are in it only for the language, it is liable to be resented.
Most communities have their own businesses and their own cultural centres. Try visiting these. They
will often have books, movies and audio-books in their native language that you can either purchase or
borrow and you can then start participating in the local communitys activities. These organisations can
usually be found on the internet or by contacting the local embassy or consulate. Religious organisations
are also natural meeting places for communities find out when they hold their services and turn up.
Enjoy the novelty of the experience and people are bound to be interested in talking to you, and often
are keen to hear your impressions of their culture. However, you will not always find young people in
these organisations and communities. Young people everywhere are becoming less community oriented,
and have their own small groups. However, through these other organisations, you might get contacts or
find out where to go to meet other people from the community. If the culture is particularly well known
for a particular activity such as the Spanish are for samba, salsa and tango dancing try visiting clubs,
restaurants and bars where these activities are offered. Facebook and other social media platforms are
also home to any number of groups where it is possible to meet people with similar interests from
different cultures. It is also possible to check language schools and universities. These will have either
teachers who are involved in the community or students from that community who you can get to know.
If there appears to be no one in your city who speaks your language you can always find someone
online to talk to; try search strings such as language buddies, and language exchange. Similarly, if
you need to find a language teacher there are large online communities for teaching foreign languages
via Skype. You can find these using search strings such as name of target language and teacher online
skype.

How to get the most of your conversations with a native speaker


Your ideal language partner is going to be someone who you get on with well. Developing a good
relationship is important, so that you can feel comfortable about talking on a wide range of topics,
asking questions that might seem stupid and not worry about making mistakes. The ideal person to talk
with will be a pedant who naturally corrects language for you. It is possible to have friends and be in a
foreign language environment, speaking the language and make very little progress because the people
nearest to you have got used to how you speak, understand you, and dont give you any feedback on
your language. The ideal language partner will do the following:
1. will pay attention to how you speak
2. provide encouragement
3. work to understand you
4. show they understand you by repeating the information using correct language
5. uses words the learner knows
These are all skills that can be taught to your language partner. Meantime, when you talk with your
partner you should be adventurous with the language, use new combinations, play with the language,
find out what your partner does and does not understand. Language sessions shouldnt be classes, they
should be two friends going off and doing something fun together. If you want a language class, find a
teacher; the purpose of a language partner is for you to get natural practice using the language naturally.
Things you should do when speaking with a language partner:
1. pay attention to the face
2. focus on understanding
3. use the foreign language
When it comes to using the foreign language, people tend to use the language which the two
individuals speak best together, so if your language partner speaks your language well it will be harder to
maintain the conversation in the foreign language because your partner will continually refer to English
to help communication. Ideally, you want to speak with someone who knows less English than you
know of the other language. Furthermore, language is strongly associated with people, so we tend to
speak to people in the language we first spoke to them in. So if you are speaking with someone with
good English, make sure the two of you agree to speak the foreign language first. This will increase the
likelihood of the two of you continuing to use the foreign language.

Girlfriends, boyfriends and the best way to learn?

It is often thought that if you want to learn a language well and quickly, getting a girlfriend or a
boyfriend is the best way of doing it. Take this advice with a grain of salt. There is some truth in the
statement as it can give you the opportunity for constant conversation. If the relationship is generally
positive it can increase your empathy towards the people and the language increasing both motivation
and your ability to absorb the language naturally. However, the effectiveness of a partner as a teacher
depends on numerous factors. These factors include:
1. How well your partner knows English and whether he or she wants to improve it.
2. The nature of your relationship: if you are constantly quarrelling, you are less likely to learn.
Furthermore the vocabulary you do learn will likely be confrontational.
3. How much you have in common: if you only have a couple of things in common that interest the
two of you, you will learn only a limited vocabulary
4. Education: the more limited the education of your partner, the less opportunity there will be to
extend your vocabulary.
Furthermore, when a couple gets into a stable relationship they often talk less which has a detrimental
effect on your opportunity to learn. From one point of view it is much more productive to date lots of
foreigners than just one you will have to talk about a broader range of topics and you will come in
contact with a greater variety of interests. Furthermore, girlfriends and boyfriends quickly get
accustomed to how you speak and therefore stop providing you with feedback on your use of language.
As they speak to you more frequently than other people they often do not notice your improvements
and so their positive feedback can also be limited. Perhaps the best solution is to have a foreign partner
but at the same time maintain an active social life to give yourself more linguistic variation.

Immersion

This is commonly believed to be the best way to learn a foreign language.


Go to the country and experience the culture and the people first hand youll be speaking like a
native in no time, is a common recommendation from people who have never learnt a foreign language.
Time and time again people try this and learn only a smattering of their target language. There are two
main disadvantages of the immersion technique. The most obvious one is that if you travel to a country
without prior linguistic preparation you only have a very limited level of comprehension and progress
will be slow in proportion. Complete immersion is like learning to swim in a rip, you might learn to
swim but the chances are pretty high youll end up drowning. Too many people end up drowning in the
sea of language. In order to save themselves from drowning, most people flee to the nearest refuge, the
local expatriate community where they speak only English and learn only a couple of foreign words.
There are several things you can do to help make your immersion experience work.
1.
Learn a little bit of the language before you go abroad (preferably get yourself to preintermediate or intermediate level), this means you will be able to understand something of what is
being said when you arrive it then becomes easy to extend your vocabulary and fluency by talking to
locals
2. Study: most people make no effort to learn the language, assuming it will happen by osmosis.
Through extensive repetition you can learn by simply being in the environment but it is much faster to
learn if spend a little time each day on focused learning. I had a friend who had grown up multi-lingual
and spoke fluent Swedish, Turkish and English. He came to Russia with the intention of learning
Russian and should have learnt the language well but he never progressed past basic conversation
despite spending almost two years in Russia. He never studied, he spent his days at university and his
evenings talking with friends and drinking. He never learnt the grammar or extended his vocabulary.
3. Get yourself into a community. If you are to benefit from immersion you need to integrate into
a group so you can use the language. In my case I lived in a student dormitory and only spoke to
students who didnt know English. A German girl I knew who progressed very quickly in Russian joined
a choral group which provided an excellent opportunity to practise some of the techniques taught in this
book as part of her singing. Sports groups are also good ways to meet people although to be accepted
as a member of the group you need to show commitment to it, and attend every session without fail.
Photography, art and craft groups are all excellent ways of meeting people, developing your skills, and
extending your language.
4. Talk . Make sure when you do go to these groups that you use the language and talk. There may
also be people who want to practise their English by talking to you. This is dangerous territory because
you might end up in a friendship where you use only English, but having local friends who can
introduce you to their friends can be a useful way of extending your group of acquaintances and
enhancing your opportunities for speaking the language.
5. Recognise that making mistakes or making a fool of yourself is part of the process: there will be
times when you dont understand what you are meant to do, and consequently will do something which
once you realise was wrong will make you feel foolish and stupid. This is all part of the language
learning experience. The more mistakes you make the more you learn.
Making mistakes is one of the critical keys to learning, and is something which should be encouraged.
If you make 50 mistakes you can be certain you have learnt more of the language than someone who
makes none.

This point was clearly demonstrated for me when I started working as a translator. While I was still a
student I felt that I was allowed to make mistakes because I was learning. Suddenly, I became a
translator and I felt that any error I made was a reflection on my professionalism consequently I
started to use only words and grammar that I was certain of. I stopped playing with the language and
experimenting with it. By using language I was certain of, I stopped extending it and the progress I had
been making dropped sharply until I realised what was happening and took corrective measures.
By following these simple guidelines, you improve your chances of benefiting from overseas
experience and these suggestions supported by the other guidelines should give you a high level of
competence in a language in just six months.

The Wonder of Communication

Most beginners have a natural horror of trying to speak their new language they dread the idea of not
being able to find any words and simply clamming up while they try to remember how to say something
and then struggle for the grammar. Many of the techniques suggested in this book help to reduce the
likelihood that you will find yourself speechless. However, it is important to remember that vocabulary
is only a small part of the equation. Research has suggested that the meaning of words conveys only 35
percent of total meaning in communication.[11] Where words fail, gestures, mime and charades fill their
place and often becomes an amusing game as two people from different cultures try to exchange
meaning.
Many years ago I was at a party with a large number of foreigners and Russians. A good proportion of
the foreigners had a low level of Russian and so the party turned into a collection of about ten separate
impromptu games of charades simultaneously as people attempted to communicate with each other. I
was looking on, in the company of a Russian girl and a Swede who was vying with me for the girls
attention and as we observed another game of charades the Swede said, Its such a pity to learn
language! Its more fun when people cant understand each other!
Although I turned to the lady who was standing between us and responded, Yes, but language does
open up other opportunities, he had made a valid point. Many people are afraid of trying to speak their
new language, but often the process is fun, other people usually welcome your attempts to speak their
language and learn about their culture.
Usually if you dont know a word you can draw or can act out the sense. If there is an interest by both
parties in communicating then some degree of communication will occur regardless of linguistic skill.
The result of such communication is that you learn the language and the culture. Your first experiences
talking and trying to talk in a foreign language can be some of the best experiences you will have in your
life they are certainly some of the best memories I have of living in Russia. So build up your courage,
go outside and meet people and start talking.
When you first start talking you will find conversation tiring. Trying to construct sentences, think of
the right vocabulary and grammar, thinking of ways to express things when your vocabulary is
insufficient requires a lot of mental energy. Listening is just as difficult as you try to catch words and
phrases that are familiar to you and understand from a small knowledge base what is being said, and
then trying to respond to it. A couple of hours of conversation can be thoroughly exhausting. By
persevering on a regular basis you can quickly break through this stage and conversation becomes easier.

Social media isnt just social


The rise of social media has made learning easier. Sign up to groups and pages dedicated to your
language of choice. These groups will often have information about the language and materials to help
you learn. There may even be people there who can help you when you get lost and give advice about
the language. Social media also has the advantage that you can meet people who speak your target
language. However, the benefit of social media isnt limited to social opportunities. By signing up to
news websites you can have regular updates of interesting articles pushed onto your newsfeed in your
foreign languages. As you glance through the newsfeed you can do a little bit of reading and extend your
knowledge of your foreign language while checking in and finding out what your friends are doing. It is
another way of bringing the immersion experience back home. The opportunity of staying in touch with
overseas friends is, of course, another benefit of social networking sites.

Taking the next step: becoming a language master


One of the best ways of improving your language skills is to turn to some good stories written by 19th
century authors. These have the advantage often that they have been already translated into English with
both the original and the translation easily accessible either free on the internet or for a minimal price.
Then get an audio version in the original language of the same book. For example if you are studying
French you might choose a short story by Guy de Maupassant or perhaps Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
If you were studying Russian you might choose one of Pushkins short stories, etc. If you are uncertain
what text you should go for, visit a library and ask a librarian recommend something in the language you
are studying. Once you have a translation, the original text and an audio recording of the text, you can
work with them in different ways to improve your language knowledge and use.

Read, listen, repeat


To begin with, one of the most productive ways of working with these texts is to read a paragraph from
the translation to become familiar with the content. Then look at the foreign language text and play the
audio recording while you read it. Listen to the text several times and then, if possible, listen to it again
with some relaxing background music. Then read the text for the section aloud. If you can, record
yourself and compare your reading with that of the original. Practise this several times until you have a
recording which sounds pretty close to the original. Remember that when reading, you should follow
the music of the original readers voice. Listen for the pauses, listen for where he/she places the stress
on words, listen for where the intonation goes up and down. Doing this for 10-30 minutes a day will
dramatically improve your pronunciation, your vocabulary and your fluency. It is one of the most
beneficial ways you can improve your language.
When you do this for long enough you reach a point where instead of hearing your own voice in your
head when reading your foreign language, you hear the voice of a native speaker. This is excellent news.
It means that you have replaced your reference voice for pronunciation with that of a native speaker, and
means that you are either speaking like a native speaker or pretty close to one and as time goes by you
will become more and more like a native speaker.

Enjoy the story

This next technique allows you to enjoy the story more and is less focused. It tends not to achieve
results quite as quickly as the previous technique but it can be more enjoyable and it is still highly
beneficial. Read the translation in its entirety so you are familiar with the whole story. While reading,
take time to imagine and visualise the events taking place, how the characters look and what the setting
is. Then get the original text and read it while listening to the story. Until you get comfortable doing
this, read for 10 minutes at a time and then extend it slowly to 30 minutes. With time you will be able to
extend this to a full hour. While reading and listening to the text imagine the events as they are
happening. Initially you will not get a high level of comprehension, but since you are familiar with the
story line, you will start absorbing more and more words and your comprehension will increase. The
advantage of this method is that you are learning to read at the same speed as a native speaker, and are
associating a wide range of words with their correct spelling and correct pronunciation. This is a
pleasurable way of learning and improving your knowledge of the language and is particularly good if
you are travelling in public transport (although by using this technique I once ended up in the middle of
a post-Soviet wasteland after I became deeply engrossed in the story). This is a good method for rapidly
increasing your vocabulary, but is less good for developing oral skills.

Returning to old favourites


If you have some favourite books in English, you could get a foreign translation of them to read. The
new language will trigger associations so it will be pleasing to read and there is something satisfying
about reading a favourite in a foreign language. Again, this is more effective if you can get an audio
book to listen to as you read, so you are developing your ear as well as your visual recognition of words.
Favourites for this exercise often include childhood classics and of course, Harry Potter.

Music
Music is a great way of learning a new language although finding the material might be a little bit
harder. Select a song that you like in your target language, and find a transcription of it. This is easier if
you have a native speaker who is prepared to help you, can make recommendations and find things for
you. Translate the transcription of the song so you know what it means and then listen to the song and
read the music. If you like singing, learn to sing the song. You will learn quickly using this technique but
it can be labour intensive in that it requires new songs on a regular basis in order to increase vocabulary.
A variation on the theme is to join a choir choral rehearsals involve a lot of repetition and they give
you the chance to listen to native singers speaking and singing. The music triggers the mammalian brain
and the numerous repetitions help reinforce the words. This is excellent for improving pronunciation. It
is also a good way of getting into a local community where you can practice your target language and
talk to people. When you get home, work through the songs with a dictionary so you know what they
mean.

Television and movies


Television and movies can be broadly placed into two different categories: English language movies that
have been translated into your foreign language, and foreign movies. Each group has its advantages.

English language films translated


These have the advantage that you can take a movie you already know and enjoy. You know what the
subject of the movie is and you can remember whats going on. This means that you already have the
basic comprehension necessary to be able to absorb vocabulary and pronunciation properly. If you have
good access to movies in your foreign language with good translations as is often the case with larger
countries such as France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Russia, China and Japan, etc., you can watch movie after
movie and this will be extremely beneficial. It is more helpful though to watch the same movie over and
over again, much like children watch movies till you are sick to death of them. Then move onto
another movie. Watch each one three times. If you want to avoid film fatigue you can have three
different movies you watch and cycle them over and over again so that each movie is separated by the
other two. The access to English language television in Scandinavian countries is one reason why most
people in those countries speak a good level of English.
If you want to find copies of your favourite TV series or movie in a foreign language you can look it
up on Wikipedia and then look for the article about it in your language of choice. This will give you the
official translation so you can then find and order a translated version of the film.

Foreign films
The disadvantage of foreign films is that often we are unfamiliar with them and differences in culture
can make some films utterly obscure. The advantage of foreign language films is that you do get insights
into the culture, you get to hear original language and not a translated version of it which might or
might not be accurate or realistic, and you can pay attention to how people talk. Again, you should
watch a film a minimum of three times. The first time you watch it, put subtitles on and read them. They
will give you a better understanding of the film. They also translate slang, which you come across less
frequently in other media. Once you have watched the movie with subtitles, the next time you watch it
pay attention to peoples faces. Connect the sounds they make with what their faces do.

Reading exercises
Once you become more advanced and have a good active vocabulary with a good accent, you can relax a
little and move onto more general reading if this interests you. Read newspapers, articles and books
about subjects that interest you. You will start understanding a lot of words from context and can enjoy
this opportunity to expand your knowledge into different areas. Different cultures have different areas
of interest and with your knowledge of this new language and culture you may find that your interests
also broaden into other areas. If necessary look up new words and grammar. Use the memory techniques
described earlier to learn quickly any new vocabulary.

How to read fluently in three months


If your goal is only to learn to read a language and you are quite relaxed about pronunciation, borrow or
download a book which interests you in your target language. Look up every word for the first 20 pages
and use the memory techniques to memorise every word. This will give you a suitably large vocabulary
to be able to read the rest of the book.
While I dont recommend the technique as it is does not develop the oral and auditory skills necessary
for communication, and it is initially very laborious, it is useful to bear in mind if you find yourself on a
posting where you need to be able to read local papers, or if you are a researcher and need to be able to
read documents. It is also useful if you need to learn dead languages such as Latin, Ancient Greek,
Sanskrit, Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, etc.
Another variation on this technique is to get word frequency lists (lists comprising the most common
words in a language) and memorise them. [12] These two approaches can be fast ways to learn a language
and once you have learnt the words you are rewarded by a high level of comprehension almost
immediately, but the initial learning process can feel unrewarding and difficult. I recommend starting off
with an accelerated learning approach, followed by reading books and watching films that you are
familiar with.

Mastering translation and interpreting


If you are really serious about becoming a specialist in your new language the next technique is
extremely effective, although it can be time consuming and requires patience. There are two variations
on the technique, one for written material and one for radio and television.

Written material

Take an article or a page from a book containing information that you need to translate. Use a dictionary
and any other reference materials to translate the article into English with the appropriate style. As you
translate make a list of the words you needed to look up. If the translation is on a subject area you are
familiar with you will probably know if your translation is good; if you are unfamiliar with the subject,
compare the material you have translated with equivalent material in English. Now translate the
document back into the original language. Compare your translation with the original. Now, without
reference to the vocabulary list you created, back translate the original document into English. Then
translate it back into your foreign language. Continue this process until your translation into your
foreign language is identical to the original. By the time you can translate the text perfectly back into
your foreign language you will have learnt all of the vocabulary from the text as well. Do this exercise
regularly and you will quickly become a skilled translator, able to translate in and out of the two
languages.

Auditory material
Using auditory material is even more productive as it helps train your ear for interpreting roles. Listen
to the audio which can be taken from radio or television and write a transcript of it in your foreign
language. Then translate it into English, making vocabulary and grammar notes as necessary as you go.
Translate your English translation back into the original language and compare with the original. Then
translate back into English and again into the foreign language, making comparisons each time. The
exercise is complete when the translation back into the foreign language is identical to the original
document. You can then listen to the audio material and practise reading the text until your reading is
identical to the original recording. This is an extremely effective exercise but does require access to
audio material and quite a lot of time. Fortunately, it is possible to find audio and video material for
most languages on news websites which can be used for this exercise.

Poetry and Prose

Learning poems and extracts of prose serves several important functions. It is a great mental challenge,
and learning to quickly rote learn information is a useful skill which can be applied to other areas of
knowledge. If you can quickly learn a poem, you can quickly memorise a list of information, which is
useful in any field of professional activity. From a linguistic point of view, rote learning improves your
ability to memorise information, it improves your ability to speak fluently and it also influences your
style of speech. By memorising elegant prose and poetry, you are training your brain to express itself in a
similar way. If you need to deliver a speech, being able to memorise the speech beforehand helps you to
deliver a speech well. If you need to deliver a speech in a foreign language, you need to train yourself to
use the language elegantly and well Learning poems and quality prose by heart is a good way to do this.
By going to the effort of learning a poem or some prose by heart it forces you to look more deeply at the
imagery involved as well as the sound of the language, making you enjoy the work more, as many of us
never take the time to fully explore the images hidden behind the words that are used in literature.
Furthermore, it really impresses people if you can recite poetry or extracts from famous novels.
There are several techniques you can use to memorise poems and prose and some will work better for
some people than for others. I include several of the main techniques which linguists and memory
athletes use.
Despite the longstanding tradition of poetry recitation, memory athletes consider memorising poetry
to be one of the most challenging feats of memory any individual can achieve.[13] The issue is that to
remember a poem word for word requires an image to represent every word and abstract idea
represented in the text. This requires either significant preparation or a different approach. I discuss
three methods for doing this and recommend that you try to use all three approaches as each will
reinforce the other. On the other hand, rhyme and rhythm help to embed a sequence of words in the
memory, and if the poem happens to be set to music (in other words, a song) then it becomes easier still.
Musicians are able to remember large amounts of music by heart. They achieve this in several ways.
Often they have visual stimuli associated with the music; sometimes this will be seemingly random
images associated with the sound of the music; sometimes they will see the sheet of music. Associated
with the sound are also emotions and finger movements. By practising a piece over and over again the
musician teaches his muscles to follow a certain path, music and visual stimuli support this. The key to
memorising poetry and prose is to create as many strong associations as possible and to turn it into
music think how easily you can remember tunes, often they get caught in your head without any effort.
This is perhaps one reason why traditionally poets (or bards) would recite poetry to music: it was easier
to remember. This too explains why ancient poetry had set rhythms and rules for rhyming to which
poems had to conform it made them easier to remember, which was important in preliterate societies.
The three main stages of learning a poem or a piece of prose are:
1. to read through the poem a couple of times,
2. associate feelings and images with each section of the poem,
3. and learn the poem as if it were music, even singing to trigger your auditory memory. Then break
it down into smaller sections.
This method is reflected in the accelerated learning approach described below. However, by taking
elements of the acting approach and the memory palace, you will be able to merge all of these methods
to learn poetry or prose.

Additional tips
1. When it comes to breaking the poem down into smaller sections, you can try memorising the last
sections first as otherwise most people end up with overly practised poem beginnings and underpractised endings.
2. Instead of trying to learn a poem in one sitting, try studying it for about ten minutes every day
and you will find that you can learn it quite quickly without feeling as if you are trying to learn it. After
all, you only need to learn a poem a week, so you could learn about fifty poems a year.

Accelerated learning approach

The accelerated learning technique requires the least active effort but can take more time. Listen to a
recording of the section you want to learn (you can record it yourself, or get a native speaker to record
it). Read the text several times, listening to the recording and play some pleasant music in the
background. Vividly imagine the emotions and see the events being described in the passage and then
close your eyes and listen again a couple of times, imagining the events. Then read through the passage
with exaggerated emotion.
If you want to memorise a large amount of text break it down into smaller sections of a stanza at a
time or a couple of sentences at a time before bringing it all together.

The acting approach

This is a slightly different approach which is often used by actors when learning lines for a play or
movie. Actors read through the text several times (often over the course of a few days), so they know the
general content and structure of the play really well. Then they work through the text slowly pretending
to take on the role of the character they will play and looking at the motivations for each of the
characters goals. In your case, if there is more than one character you need to get into character for
each one and consider who they are and what their motivations are. Work through the text imagining all
of the events as if they were happening to you. As you do so you should imagine a chain of experiences
occurring, with each one leading to the next. The art of doing this is to learn to think in images triggered
by the words, and this is one of the key skills which needs to be learned to improve memory in general.
Read over the text with exaggerated feeling and vividly recall the images described.
The more you practice the easier and faster this becomes. Make sure you break large texts down to a size
which is easily manageable. You may find at first that recollection of lines can be slow and it is
sometimes easier if you write down the text as you are reciting it. While such feats of memory seem
challenging to us, it is worth noting that in former times memorising large tracts of poetry was
considered a standard part of education, much for the reasons I have already specified, while in Russia
today most school children learn Eugene Onegin by heart. There are cases where political prisoners
during the Soviet period have claimed that they retained their sanity by reciting the entire poem (65,000
words). The technique which Russian school children use almost entirely coincides with the acting
approach described here.

The memory palace


To use a memory palace for remembering poems or prose you need to have a set route which you will
take through your palace. Some people may find it difficult to settle on a route through their memory
palace and if you are to use the memory palace approach it would be best if you start using it for

memorising information on a daily basis, so you become really familiar with it. Read through the text
and determine where all of the items and concepts mentioned in the text are to be located. It may be that
for some texts you create a special location which have all the items connected. As you memorise the
text, you visualise a tour of the locations to the items that you need, imagining them as being very vivid
and clear. Another variation on this theme is to have a set route, either through your house, or a route
you use a lot and are familiar with, for example your drive to work. Along this route you then place all
of the items that are relevant, so that to remember the information, you simply think of taking your
route to work and as you imagine going along the route, you see all of the relevant points.
The detail and number of objects you memorise as triggers for what you are learning will depend on
the precision you need and on the amount of information you can contain within an association. In
some cases you might want to have an image for every single word and you essentially will walk along a
route with a new word every step, represented by an image of that word or the word spelt like a big sign.
In other cases, a single image might be sufficient to cover an entire sentence or paragraph.
The memory palace is often used for memorising speeches, and was the technique that Cicero used to
remember extremely long (and effective speeches) which he delivered to the Roman Senate in the first
century BC. However, in Ciceros case, he was remembering the topics he wanted to discuss rather than
attempting to recreate a speech memorised verbatim. Sir Winston Churchill on the other hand used to
memorise whole speeches verbatim because he thought he wasnt very good at speaking spontaneously,
and did not want to be seen reading his speeches. In his early career he used to memorise several
alternative speeches so that he could respond appropriately to developments in the House of Commons.
Here is an exercise for you to practise: Learn by heart Sonnet 35 by William Shakespeare. Choose the
technique which seems most appropriate to you and spend some time learning this poem.

Sonnet 35 by William Shakespeare


No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud:
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,
Thy adverse party is thy advocate,
And 'gainst myself a lawful plea commence:
Such civil war is in my love and hate,
hat I an accessory needs must be,
To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.

Help! How do I learn this poem?

The obscure nature of this poem makes it hard to learn visually and its lyrical nature makes it a good
contender for using the accelerated learning approach. However, lets read through it first and attach
emotions and images to the ideas contained in the poem.
No more be grieved at that which thou hast done:
Feel grief, see someone in grief with a big stop sign over the image. Link that images to the words on the
left.
Roses have thorns, and silver fountains mud:
See an image of a bouquet of roses with terribly sharp glistening thorns and that image then merges into
an image of a silver fountain surrounded by mud.
Clouds and eclipses stain both moon and sun,
See clouds scudding across the sky and then see an eclipse of both the moon and sun.
And loathsome canker lives in sweetest bud.
See an ugly, loathsome canker living on a lovely flower.
All men make faults, and even I in this,
Seeing someone making a fault in the earth, tearing open a fault line and then he looks up and you see
yourself.
Authorizing thy trespass with compare,
See someone using a card key to enter your flat and compare it to yourself.
Myself corrupting, salving thy amiss,
See yourself asking for and accepting a bribe and feeling guilty that you asked for it, see yourself giving it
away as charity.
Excusing thy sins more than thy sins are;
See yourself magnanimously making a broad sweeping gesture that it doesnt matter anymore, and
notice that the person he is talking to is an angel.
For to thy sensual fault I bring in sense,
Imagine lounging on a huge bed with silk sheets, a glass of wine and a tray of grapes lies on a table
nearby and you feel that though this is luxurious, it is also filled with a sense of awareness.
Thy adverse party is thy advocate,
Across the bed you see a glamorous movie star who you look at appealingly and offer persuasive
arguments to get him/her to approach.
And 'gainst myself a lawful plea commence:
While this charming and seductive Hollywood star tries to persuade you that this is wrong.
Such civil war is in my love and hate,
Then see a city ruined by bombing and superimposed is a love heart being rent in two.
That I an accessary needs must be,
See yourself approaching the love heart and helping pull it into two parts, while the Hollywood star

pulls from the other side.


To that sweet thief which sourly robs from me.
And see the two of you returning to a Hollywood mansion with each one holding part of a torn heart.
Now you have gone through the imagery of the poem on a line by line basis, read the poem again,
thinking of the images and letting one set of images flow into the next set so that the poem tells a visual
story. You might like to alter some of the images so they speak more fully to you. Now turn on some
relaxing music; play the poem again several times. The first time, read the poem as you listen to the
music, then listen Now take a section of the poem. You might like to break it down into two to four
sentences, and then for each section learn five words at a time. As you repeat the words to yourself keep
in mind the image and the feelings associated with the phrase. Once you have memorised that phrase
move onto the next one and memorise it. Then put the two together. Then recite the line that you have
just learnt again and move onto the next, associating the image and feelings with the words as you repeat
them over and over again.
If you still find the text hard to remember it means that the images and emotions arent clear enough
to you, so spend some time thinking of others which are more meaningful for you. Having gone through
this process so far, use the accelerated learning approach and add music. If you practise regularly poems
like this you will be able to learn quickly without even having to use the accelerated learning approach.
Those who practice learning learn best.
Accept that you are learning a new skill and sometimes it might require a little practice. Learning this
skill will make many things much easier in your life, including remembering vocabulary and grammar
tables, but also mundane things such as shopping lists, homework, and complicated instructions at work.
In the fourth century AD in one of Romes numerous civil wars, a general took the city of Rome and
the senate came out to him and spoke to him for three hours. The general listened quietly and then
spoke for three hours in response, answering each point that the senate made. Imagine if you could do
that in meetings at work, how easy it would be to speak and what an impression it would make on your
colleagues and managers!
In the Iroquois federation when a great council was held no one was permitted to speak unless he was
able to summarise the statements of every individual who had previously spoken to their own
satisfaction. Not only did this mean that people were regularly expected to be able to remember a huge
amount of information, it prevented pointless arguments caused by people incorrectly understanding or
misleadingly representing what other people said. Great feats of memory were once a commonplace skill;
it is time we learnt to do it again.

Exercise: Learn Invictus by W.E. Henley.


Start by reading through it once and then on the right describe or draw the images associated with each
line. Once you know what associations you have for each line, read over the entire poem again. Then
break it down into two line sections and learn each line, associating it with the images. If you need
additional help, record it and play it back several times with soft music in the background.
Invictus by W.E. Henley
Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,


I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Exercise: Learn The Tyger by William Blake or Dulce Et Decorum Est by


Wilfred Owen.
You can follow the same techniques used above or you can experiment by using a memory palace. By
this stage it should already be easier to come up with images that help you recollect the text.
The Tyger by William Blake
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forest of the night
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, and what art,

Could twist the sinews of thy heart?


And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?
When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile his work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?
Tyger! Tyger! burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep.
Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod.
All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.
GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!
An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.-Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,


He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devils sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Belief matters
Belief plays an important role in our lives, it determines who we are. From an early age we develop ideas
about what we are, who we are, what we can and cannot do. Beliefs are often established at an early age
and are used to identify who we are, what we do, how well we do them and our persistence they make
up a vital part of our personality.
So where do beliefs come from? Beliefs come from your experience of reality, but from a highly
subjective experience of reality. As a child grows up and matures, the prefrontal lobe of the brain grows
and develops. The prefrontal lobe is responsible for motivation and setting goals. It is also responsible
for analysing information and deciding what information is true and what is false. These decisions are
made on past experience and so the growth and development of discriminatory power coincides with the
development of your own personal experiences and understanding of the world. The prefrontal lobe is
largely responsible for setting peoples world view and is not fully developed until about the age of 25
years. The younger the individual the more susceptible to external ideas and the less able they are to
distinguish truth from falsity.
In other words, when children are young they are extremely impressionable and susceptible to
adopting new beliefs about themselves and the world, and once a belief is set it becomes difficult to
change. One example of the impact that beliefs can have on somebodys life is a child who when he was
four had tried to do a puzzle that was beyond him. After trying for half an hour or so his father became
exasperated with the childs attempts and seizing the puzzle said, just forget it, you are no good. The
child grew up thinking that he was no good, he suffered from low motivation and was a low achiever at
school he didnt try. The issue was not that he was particularly stupid or lazy, he just believed that he
was no good because he couldnt do a puzzle. As it happened, the puzzle was designed for eight year
olds. The child failed because he was given the wrong puzzle, leading to the wrong feedback and did not
have sufficient perspective to understand what was really going on or to reject his fathers
condemnation. The tragedy is that this single event led to low motivation, and underperformance
elsewhere in the childs life.
Ultimately, this is an example of bad parenting, but it shows the impact that saying the wrong thing at
the wrong time can have on a young mind. Many people end up with similar beliefs about learning and
in particular learning foreign languages. Most of us have failed to learn a foreign language at one stage
or another and consequently assume that we cannot learn foreign languages or that learning foreign
languages is difficult. Such a belief is supported by the numerous myths which are associated with
foreign languages discussed earlier and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. However, whenever you have
doubts about your ability to learn a language, remember that you have already mastered one language
without even trying. By following the techniques set out in this book you will see that learning languages
can be interesting, enjoyable, self-affirming and a relatively quick process.
However, if you find that you still have some old beliefs or mental barriers that have been blocking
your ability, there are techniques to overcome these and enhance the language learning process. I will
cover a couple of basic techniques here.

Pavlovs languages

You might think you need to be pretty keen about languages to start drooling over them, but it is a
pretty easy trick which Dr. Ivan Pavlov, a Russian medical researcher discovered at the beginning of the
20th century. The discovery known as classical conditioning, with the experiment frequently referred
to as Pavlovs dog experiment, was made when the good doctor was carrying out research into
digestion. As part of his experiments he used to ring a bell when he fed his dogs. After some time
Pavlov noticed that when he rang the bell his dogs started salivating. As salivation is an involuntary
action, this direct response to the bell indicated that physiological states can be associated with and
triggered by external stimulation, and that such associations can be acquired. This discovery has become
the basis for many forms of training, is used extensively in the military, and is the basis of much of the
learning that we do.

How to use Pavlovs research to improve our ability to learn languages


Pavlovs research gives us a very effective and easy way to help overcome unhelpful beliefs and put you
into a state of mind for learning. Learning is largely about being in a receptive state in which you can
absorb information, and we can use classical conditioning to deliberately put ourselves in the right
mood for learning the language. The approach we will use is very similar to the experience most of us
have had when walking down the street suddenly we hear a tune that brings back good memories and
suddenly we are in a completely different mood, and feel great. This is the result of an unconscious case
of classical conditioning.

Exercise:
Read through the entire task initially so you know what to do and then follow the step by step approach.
1. Choose a piece of music (which does not have lyrics) that you enjoy listening to, and are able to
listen to when studying and when doing exercises that are to be accompanied by music.
2. Prepare this music so you can play it easily just by clicking a button
3. Think of an activity that you enjoy doing for relaxation and that you are able to do easily for a
long time, this might be anything from watching a movie with full attention, to playing a computer
game, reading a book, computer programming, playing a musical instrument, or even jogging.
4. When you have decided on something which you enjoy doing and can focus on for a considerable
period of time, close your eyes and imagine yourself doing that activity. Imagine what you see, what you
feel and what you hear. Fully immerse yourself in that experience, recreate the feelings in your mind and
body.
5. Once you feel that you really are immersed in that experience, turn on the music, close your eyes
and continue to feel those feelings, imagining that you are doing that activity again.
6. After listening to the music for a minute or so, continue to enjoy that state or mood
7. When the music ends, open your eyes, and notice how you feel.
In the future, when you are going to study, play that music in the background. If you want you can
just play it once as you start to study and it will trigger that mood or mental state which will enable you
to study in a concentrated and focused way. You can also play the music over and over again in the
background to keep you in that relaxed, focused state.

The advantage of using this technique is that it puts you into the same mood you use for other
hobbies you enjoy doing and you do well and all of the capabilities and skills you have for doing well
in those activities are transferred to language learning. This makes it easier, more enjoyable to do and
increases motivation for study. It also helps overcome any negative beliefs that you may once have had
about learning foreign languages.

The tricky bits: Spelling and grammar

A group of trainee teachers was brought into my class of international students that I was teaching at
pre-intermediate level. The trainee teachers wanted to see how I taught spelling. I took a word at
random which had occurred in one of the texts we had looked at that day: determination. I wrote the
word up on the white board and gave the students 30 seconds to remember the spelling. Being longer
than seven letters, it wasnt something the students could just load into their short term memory. They
needed to learn it. After 30 seconds I rubbed the word out and chose the student who was known to be
the weakest in the class, a Chinese girl who was very friendly, very dedicated and had a reputation for
being a very slow learner. She spelt the word confidently without any pauses or hesitation and she
spelt it correctly, much to the surprise of the supervising teacher.
Remembering precise spelling and grammar can pose challenges to some students, while others seem
to remember them without difficulty. The easiest way to remember how words are spelt is visually. At
school we are often taught to sound words out, but as mentioned earlier, spelling is only an
approximation to the actual pronunciation a phonetic approach is less reliable and is slower.
Furthermore, most of us to some extent already use visual memory as a check for words. Most people
(except for dyslectics) have had the experience of having written a word down, looked at it and thought
that doesnt like right. While spelling is something that you should by and large absorb as you learn
vocabulary there may be words that for one reason or another you seem to be unable to learn. The key
to learning these words is to create a visual image of how the word is spelt. When we read, after a certain
amount of exposure to a word we tend to remember what it looks like and how it is spelt. By repeated
exposure we remember the word.
To speed this process up, you can try the following technique which I have found particularly useful
when teaching.
The key is to stimulate visual memory and associate it with the spelling of the word. I introduced the
task as a game and wrote the word on the whiteboard with letters and syllables in random colours and
asked them to remember the colours. To remember the colours most people take a mental photograph
of the word. After giving them 30 seconds to make the mental photograph, I rubbed the word out and
asked the students to tell me the colours and as part of the response they gave me the letters. I used to
play this game with a couple of words at a time when changing to a new topic and the students needed a
break and a chance to relax. The idea of repeating the game several times each day was to train their
minds to remember words like photographs automatically.

How to learn to spell a word


You need to associate the word with something that will trigger a visual memory as well as an auditory
memory. The technique, which I suggested for learning vocabulary, can be successfully applied to learn
how to spell. That is to associate the word (meaning and spelling) with an image and its pronunciation.
If you already know the word and need to memorise the spelling, the best way of learning it is to teach
your mind to find information about the word in visual memory. Human physiology often gives us clues
to our mental processes and people who are good spellers often flick the eyes to the top and left to recall
how to spell a word (unless you are left-handed, in which case it will be to the top right corner of the
eyes).[14] It is believed that this movement helps access remembered visual information. Learning to
spell correctly is simply a matter of training your mind to look for visual information. To remember
how to spell a word, follow these instructions:
1. write the word on a piece of card
2. hold the card so you can see it easily when you flick your eyes to the top left corner (top right
corner if you are left handed)
3. say the word
4. take a mental photograph of it (people will often blink when doing this, mimicking the shutter of
a camera it seems to work so I dont argue with it)
5. Repeat a few times
6. Test your spelling of the word
Although this technique sounds bizarre it was developed to help children with spelling techniques in
the 1970s and has been extremely successful for teaching dyslectics and children with spelling
difficulties. I have used it with numerous foreign language students when they have had spelling
difficulties. You may find it a little slow initially, but after youve used it to learn about ten words, it
should start to come easily and should enable you to learn words much faster. You can also add this as
an additional technique to learn vocabulary and should strengthen your ability to visually recall words.

How to master grammar


When I was learning Russian we were taught grammar as a series of rules. There was nothing
complicated about the rules but there were lots of them. As Russian words have many endings trying to
remember them and use them in the right place made speaking Russian difficult and complicated. When
I first went to Russia I had to think in English of the sentence I wanted to say in Russian, then think of
the Russian words, remember the appropriate rule for each of the words, make the appropriate changes
to the word, and then say the sentence. Even for a short sentence I needed to recall 20 different pieces of
information and attempt to hold all of them in my head while I constructed and said the sentence. This
was slow, complicated and utterly exhausting.
At the same time as I was learning Russian I also learnt Latin, which has six times as many endings as
Russian. Roughly speaking Russian has about 36 different endings that you need to memorise, Latin has
about 180 endings. When learning Latin I used a different approach for memorising the word endings
and consequently, despite the increased complexity, when it came to knowing the right Latin endings, I
could access the information almost immediately and had a memory for Latin cases which is almost
photographic.
Psychologists and memory athletes will tell you there is no such thing as photographic memory.
Certainly, evidence suggests that no one is really capable of glancing at a page and memorising all the
information instantly and being able to access it. However, you can develop a good recollection which
can even include a visual image of information using the following techniques. This isnt a one glance
and you know it technique, it requires some time and some rote learning, but it gives you fast access to
information when you need it.

Remembering tenses, conjugations and declensions

One of the key parts of learning cases, conjugations and declensions is being able to see how they
relate to each other. Focus on one part of grammar at a time.
1. Take a look at a table which shows all of the cases, or all of the conjugations (of verbs) or all of
the declensions (of nouns). If you cant find one, write one out yourself so you can see and compare the
different stems and endings.
2. Once you have done that you will be able to see that there are similarities and some differences.
After you have looked at the similarities and differences focus on one verb and learn one tense at a time.
If you are studying noun declensions, look at a single declension at a time
3.
As you do this you can put on some relaxing music in the background to stimulate the
mammalian brain and put you in a better state for learning.
4. Looking at the tense/declension you are learning repeat like a rhyme the entire tense/declension.
For example if you were learning French you would listen to the music and repeat several times: je dis,
tu dis, il dit, elle dit, nous disons, vous disez, ils disont.
5.
If you want, record this and listen to it several times with your eyes closed, playing the
background music.
6. With your eyes closed, envisage the tense/declension you have just learnt, and read the words
from the table as you see them.
7. Take a brief break and come back to it in a few minutes. Try to write out the case/declension
from memory.
8. Move onto the next tense/declension. When learning verb conjugations it is easier to do all the
verbs in the same tense together, so you can see the similarities with each other. After you have done
this, revise the verb in the present tense before going onto its conjugation in a different tense so that you
train your mind to be able to flick immediately from the verbs present tense to any other tense you
want.
As you progress through the table, every so often test yourself by checking how many
tenses/declensions you can recall and rewrite from memory. If you have any difficulties, refresh that
particular tense/declension.
Using this technique you should be able to learn a tense /declension in about 40 minutes. Take breaks
between each section and you should be able to fully memorise four tenses /declensions a couple of
hours. If you have a language like Russian, you should be able to remember most of the tense and
declensions in four or five hours. For a language like French it should be possible to do the main tenses
in perhaps six or seven hours in total, but not in a single sitting. These memory tasks need to be spaced,
because concentration cannot be sustained at a high level for so long.
Once you have learnt the regular verbs and nouns you can then learn the irregular ones, which
although irregular have similar patterns to the regular ones and are therefore easier to remember once
you know the regular ones.
Flash cards can also be used for learning and revising conjugations and declensions, view the section
on Flashcards.

Remembering other grammatical rules

Unfortunately grammar is more than how words change: it also prescribes how words interact with each
other. Some verbs demand particular prepositions, some words can only be used in specific
combinations with other words and there are lots of examples of rules governing usage which have
developed over hundreds of years of usage with no good reason for why they are used that way. Because
much of this grammar is arbitrary it is often difficult to remember.
Your approach will depend on the information you are trying to learn but as a general guideline, if
you can create some visual images to act as a reference it will be easier. For example if you need to
remember that the verb to give takes an object and an indirect object, you can create an image of
someone giving something to someone else for example imagine a man giving a rose(the direct object)
to a woman (the indirect object) and remember the entire sentence for reference so in French for
example you have: l'homme donne une rose une femme , or in Russian muzhchina daet rozu
zhenschine. By creating a sentence with an image attached you are also adding meaning to the
grammatical concept the greater the meaning the easier it is to remember. In keeping with the theme
of meaning, it is also sometimes helpful to remember the literal translation of a grammatical structure in
English especially when it doesnt make grammatical sense or doesnt sound entirely natural in
English. In the example above I wrote: a man giving a rose to a woman a more natural expression in
English would have been a man giving a woman a rose but this does not emphasise the indirect
object. By choosing the wording I did, the English sentence mimicked the structure in the French. When
I learn vocabulary and grammar I try to imagine both the image and the written word or phrase, as well
as the pronunciation so I have remembered all the most important information for its use.
If an aspect of grammar isnt sticking, recite it to yourself several times, even record it, if necessary and
listen to it with a musical accompaniment and it will sink in at some stage. The accelerated learning
principle for learning grammatical points is based on creating short ditties that can be easily
remembered and can even get caught in your head. If you pay attention to learning the grammar it is
easy to do; the problem is that most people do not apply themselves to it and assume that they will just
pick it up as they go along. Sometimes this happens, but often it requires a little more focus. Anything
that can be learnt casually can be learnt more quickly with concentration.

Maintaining motivation
While learning a language doesnt need to take years, and can be an interesting and enjoyable experience,
it needs to be done regularly over a sustained period, and many people find any regular commitment of
this nature is not as easy as they supposed. We all know of the success of New Years resolutions
especially the ones about going on a diet and going to the gym regularly.

There are five rules for staying motivated:

1.
Be successful. If you feel that you are successful you are more likely to enjoy the process.
Satisfaction and enjoyment work together to maintain motivation.
2. Work your foreign language into other things you enjoy. Try to mix language with one of
your other hobbies so you can do both at once.
3. Have goals and reward yourself when you attain them. Give yourself set targets of things you
want to be able to say in your foreign language, the number of words you want to know, the levels you
want to achieve. Break these into smaller goals. For example, if you want to be able to converse on
everyday topics, break the goals down into learning the vocabulary for a new topic each week, or each
month so that by the end of six weeks or months you can discuss confidently six different topics.
4. Have a dream and stay focused on it. Dreamers can achieve big things when they focus on
achieving them, if you have a dream that inspires you then it can keep you working year after year after
year it is the secret to long term, sustained motivation. Why is it you want to learn a foreign language?
So you dream of being able to visit Italy and spend your days strolling the streets, admiring the
architecture and being able to talk to the locals and learn their stories? Do you want to follow the
footsteps of Earnest Hemingway and spend your afternoons in the cafs of Barcelona, soaking in the
culture, or do you want to spend six months travelling through Latin America and going native?
Whatever the longer term aim, keep it in mind, keep a picture of the goal nearby, so that while working
towards the short term goals, you still have the end game in sight.
5. Keep it quiet. Although it was once an old adage that you should tell other people your plans so
that you paint yourself into a corner and have to achieve them, more recent research suggests that the
more people talk about what they are doing, the more they feel that they are doing it. Ironically this
reduces their real motivation. So keep your foreign language endeavours away from most people and
then you can enjoy their surprise when they find you talking to that Spanish model or Greek god in their
own language!
6. Reward yourself when you achieve your goals and if possible reward yourself somehow using
the language. Go to a restaurant where they serve food from the country whose language you are
studying (see if you can meet a native speaker), enjoy a night out watching foreign language movies when
an international film festival is in town, have friends from your newly adopted country over for a meal
or cocktails and wine, or go to a concert featuring its music.

Language Blocks

People can develop hang-ups about languages. Someone who knows the language perfectly well can find
themselves in a real life setting unable to string two words together. Their minds go blank, they um and
ah, they cant think of words or they cant think what to do with them or in the worst case scenario, they
simply cant think. In other cases people reach a point where they dont improve or there is no visible
improvement in their speech, although theoretically they are doing the right things to improve their
language. In cases like this you are dealing with a psychological block. These are normally the result of
strongly held beliefs or fears associated with foreign languages, how they learnt the foreign language or
their attitude to culture.
When I first went to Russia I found that much of what I had learnt was unhelpful and that my spoken
Russian was very basic. I did however have an unshakeable belief that I was good at Russian and was
good at learning it. I sat down and applying what I knew of language learning from my experience with
Latin taught myself Russian from first principles. Apart from studying too hard I got on well with
Russians and enjoyed a bohemian lifestyle which although impoverished was exciting and enthralling. I
progressed quickly in my Russian, and within half a year had reached a stage where I could study for an
MA in Philology at St Petersburg State University. However, on a cold night on December 19, I was
coming home at 10 pm after an evening teaching English at the university when I was assaulted by two
young men. The attack nearly killed me and for several months afterwards I suffered severe concussion
headaches.
While I suffered short term damage from the injury, I was less aware of the longer term consequences.
Without knowing it, the quality of my Russian deteriorated. Whether this happened overnight as a result
of the injuries or was the result of a slowly changing perception which was the result of many hours
lying in bed unable to do anything but meditate on my painful plight I do not know, but at some stage I
became aware that the general quality of my Russian had deteriorated. I couldnt understand why I was
speaking Russian less well, but attributed it to working as a translator (reading and writing, not
speaking), and socialising less. Indeed, I was socializing less and was much less open towards Russians in
general.
As a result of this experience I was getting less practice but something else had happened too. I
developed a thick, street Russian accent which I used to discourage people from talking to me as a way
of protecting myself when on the street, while the rest of the time, I spoke poorly. My life-threatening
experience had so antagonised me that I did not want people to mistake me for being Russian. I had
become alienated from Russians and this came to be reflected in my language. My fluency deteriorated
along with my accent. I found this development both interesting and frustrating. It forced me to
examine the psychological aspects of language acquisition and performance.
Seeking answers, I came across the use of hypnosis in sports psychology and realized that speaking a
language well was just as much a matter of performing as competing in a sporting competition or
delivering a speech. Anxiety and unconscious fear can inhibit us and can affect performance as anyone
who has suffered from nerves before delivering a speech will know. I began exploring the science of
performance and the role of the unconscious. In the process of this work I came across neuro-linguistic
programming (NLP) and began to apply to language some of the techniques developed by its
researchers.
The results were quietly positive. My Russian improved and exceeded what I had previously achieved,
and there were even times when I was mistaken for a Russian. Normally we do not consciously think
about how we speak or what we say, so the unconscious mind occupies a significant role in our overall

performance. Over the past few years I have increasingly used hypnosis and NLP techniques in much
the same ways as a sportsman does, to tune my abilities. This is not the place to discuss how to fine-tune
language acquisition with hypnosis, except to say that if you are struggling with speaking a language, or
with mastering the accent, despite using the techniques described in this book, the chances are that you
have some mental block connected with the language or language learning in general. Confidence is
often a confidence trick, and if you are aware of what is inhibiting your performance, you can
consciously bring it under control.

Exercise: Programme yourself for greater linguistic success


If you havent already done it, go over the chapter entitled Pavlovs Languages and do the exercise .
This exercise helps recode your subconscious expectations and is very similar to the pre-priming
visualizations sportspeople use before tournaments and competitions: Read through these instructions
once, and then do this activity:
1.
Having prepared a piece of music that you associate with relaxation, confidence and
concentration, put it on continuous play and then close your eyes.
2. Imagine yourself in a months time, in various situations where you are using the language, see
yourself speaking comfortably, and easily. You see yourself doing this as if you are a bystander, watching
this copy of yourself conversing freely and confidently. You can see yourself speaking fluently, making
jokes, laughing with people in your foreign language. See yourself occasionally unable to understand
initially, but being able to work out the meaning with gestures. See the entire experience as safe and fun.
3. Now imagine that person who has been speaking in a foreign language so comfortably, who is
you, turn around and approach you. He/She comes up to you and then steps inside you, bringing with
him all of the knowledge and experience he has which enables him to speak fluently and comfortably,
really enjoying speaking to people in their native language.
4. All that knowledge the other person brings spreads through your mind and brain, being absorbed
completely by both cortices, by both conscious and subconscious minds, and the knowledge and ability
spreads throughout the rest of your body too, through all the muscles, being carried around your body
in your blood and spreading out into every cell and molecule.
5. Now let your mind go blank, and repeat this exercise five or six times.
This exercise primes your subconscious to think about using language successfully and well. It is
based on a visualisation technique which is often used by sportspeople before competitions. By
repeating the exercise several times you turn such thoughts into a habit which will assist you to
overcome mental blanks and anxiety when you try to speak a foreign language. The first time you try this
exercise you should do it about seven times to help establish it as an unconscious thought pattern.
Afterwards, you should just go through it a single time before you begin each class.

Conclusion
Many people at some stage express a desire to know another language. The main problem is not
knowing how to do it. We either look at a textbook and quickly become discouraged when we make
little progress and find there are more enjoyable ways to spend our time, or we take a course in which
we make little progress or are frustrated by the other students that seem to hold us back. Either way the
experience is often unsatisfactory and so the desire to learn a language remains an unattainable goal.
The key to learning foreign languages is knowing how to learn. Using the techniques and exercises
in this book, everyone can acquire a basic level of any language reasonably easily, and those who want to
develop mastery can do so by applying the more advanced techniques. While languages do require
regular work, and a regular commitment of time, a reasonable level of proficiency can be acquired
without much stress. Attaining mastery can be so enjoyable as to seem almost effortless. Having read
this book you know enough to achieve any level you desire in your language and can learn as many
languages as you like.

References and other material


Buzan, T. Use Your Memory, 1984.Pease, A., & Pease, B. (2004). Buderim, Australia: Pease International.
Cervatiuc, Andreea, ESL Vocabulary Acquisition: Target and Approach, University of Calgary (Calgary,
Canada), http://iteslj.org/Articles/Cervatiuc-VocabularyAcquisition.html.
Dilts, R. and Epstein, T., Dynamic Learning, Meta, Capitola, California,1995.
Foer, J., Moonwalking with Einstein, Penguin, 2011.
Kinder, L., Learning a second language in adulthood can slow brain ageing, The Telegraph, 2 July 2014.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10869619/Learning-a-second-language-in-adulthoodcan-slow-brain-ageing.html
Merritt, A., Why learn a foreign language? Benefits of bilingualism, The Telegraph, 19.06.2013,
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationopinion/10126883/Why-learn-a-foreign-languageBenefits-of-bilingualism.html
Rose, C., Accelerated Learning, Accelerated Learning Systems, 1985
Ward E.Y. Elliot, Robert J. Valenza, Shakespeares vocabulary: Did it dwarf all others?,
http://www.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/welliott/Shakespeare%20Vocabulary%20Chapter%20911.pdf

Internet resources
Accelerated Learning courses: http://www.acceleratedlearning.com
BBC foreign language material: www.bbc.co.uk/languages
Foreign Service Institute: A collection of language courses provided for free by the United States of
America Foreign Language Institute. Much of the material is old, but as an introduction to language
should be a good starting place when used with techniques discussed in this book. www.fsi-languagecourses.org
Omniglot: a resource of information on learning foreign languages. www.omniglot.com
Open Culture: a portal with a vast amount of educational material, including foreign languages.
www.openculture.com/freelanguagelessons
Test your English vocabulary: http://testyourvocab.com/
Word frequency tables can be found at: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists.

Other books on language acquisition


Dearman, R., Accelerated Fluency: The Guide to Fast, Free, Effective Language Learning
Farber, B.M., How to Learn Any Language: Quickly, Easily, Inexpensively, Enjoyably and on Your Own
Gethin, A., and Gunnemark, E.V., The Art and Science of Learning Languages
Hammes, K., Fluency Made Achievable
James, G., The Complete Guide to Learning a Language: How to Learn a Language with the Least Amount of
Difficulty and the Most Amount of Fun
Lewis, B., Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the
World
Lightbrown, P., and Spada, N., How Languages Are Learned
Trimnell, E., Why You Need a Foreign Language - and How to Learn One: English Speaking Professionals and the
Global Challenge
Wyner, G., Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It
Zaraysky, S., Language is Music

TED Talks on language acquisition and memory


TED
Talks
can
be
found
at
www.TED.com
or
on
YouTube
at
http://www.youtube.com/user/TEDtalksDirector. These are a series of great talks that cover some of
the main principles discussed in this book.
Benny Lewis, Hacking language learning, TEDxWarsaw
Sid Efromovich, 5 techniques to speak any language, TEDxUp
Chris Lonsdale, How to learn any language in six months, TEDxLingnanUniversity
Daniel Kilov, The art of memory, TEDxMacquarieUniversity
Joshua Foer, Feats of memory anyone can do, TED Talk 2012
Idriz Zogaj, How to become a Memory Master, TEDxGoteborg

Other works by Peter D Campbell


In My Brothers Shadow drama
In my Brothers Shadow is an absorbing and skilful story, exploring the attitudes of a younger
brother who has grown up overawed by the image of his elder brother who went missing in
Yugoslavia ten years earlier. In his attempt to break away from a monotonous mild-class
lifestyle the main hero goes on pilgrimage to Bosnia and Serbia to explore the land that took
his brothers life. The story takes him to the cold and imperial beauty of St. Petersburg, Russia, where
events force him to re-examine the basis of his morality, the nature of war and peace, love and hate, and
violence and submission. It explores the motivations behind these and how ordinary people can be
pushed to do the unthinkable. In my Brothers Shadow explores the relationship of two brothers and how
actions can be defined by their environment.
Purchase it from Amazon
The Prostitute and the Beggar detective story
Enigmatic private eye John Marlot looks into the sudden disappearance of a Picasso painting
from one of the world's largest art galleries and dives into the depths Russias criminal
underworld.
Purchase it from Amazon
The Prodigal Son
Private eye John Marlot investigates the disappearance of an oil tycoons son in St. Petersburg
and soon finds himself looking at the darker side of romance in Russias northern capital.
Purchase it from Amazon
Purrfect Tales satire
This remarkable book explores what you have always known but never quite understood how it is that your favourite puss went from being your cat to your master.
A delightful and witty account, "Purrfect Tales" retells key events in mythology, legend and
history to reveal the subtle influence of the velvet paw in every area of human endeavour.
Purchase it from Amazon
The Blizzard by Alexander Pushkin classic short story

In a delightful tale by Russia's greatest writer, mystery surrounds a lovely and delightful
young woman who refuses despite everything to marry the man of her dreams. Peter D
Campbell has retranslated Pushkins timeless classic making a compelling and accessible text.
Purchase it from Amazon
The Shot by Alexander Pushkin classic short story
A chilling story of romance and vengeance by Russia's greatest writer, Alexander Pushkin.
This modern translation by Peter D Campbell brings out the full mastery of Pushkin's tale
which will grip readers young and old alike.
Purchase it from Amazon

[1] Kinder, L., Learning a second language in adulthood can slow brain ageing, The Telegraph, 2 July 2014.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10869619/Learning-a-second-language-in-adulthood-can-slow-brain-ageing.html
[2] Advantages of learning a foreign language are briefly described in this article on the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/
educationopinion/10126883/Why-learn-a-foreign-language-Benefits-of-bilingualism.html
[3] Rose, C., Accelerated Learning, Accelerated Learning Systems,1985
[4] Ibid.
[5] Cervatiuc, Andreea, ESL Vocabulary Acquisition: Target and Approach, University of Calgary (Canada), http://iteslj.org/Articles/CervatiucVocabularyAcquisition.html. For the most commonly used words, see http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists.
Wiktionary includes frequency lists for other languages too and is a useful resource for adding additional vocabulary. If you are interested in
testing your passive vocabulary visit http://testyourvocab.com/
[6] This figure is debated and estimates go as high as about 31,000 words. Ward E.Y. Elliot, and Robert J. Valenza, Shakespeares
vocabulary: Did it dwarf all others?
http://www.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/welliott/Shakespeare%20Vocabulary%20Chapter%20911.pdf
[7] Collins Dictionaries (www.collinsdictionary.com) provides pronunciation for a range of languages, as does Wiktionary
(www.wiktionary.org). A lot of foreign language material can be found on YouTube (www.youtube.com) including audio books, although
quality is variable.
[8] Tony Buzan is one of the pioneers of re-introducing memory techniques to popular culture. He has written 120 self-help books on the
subject. A good general reference and introduction to memory techniques is Use Your Memory, 1984.
[9] Rose, C., Accelerated Learning, Accelerated Learning Systems,1985
[10] Colin Roses accelerated language courses teach about 2000 words in a six week course of 45 minutes a day, an average of 48 words a
day.
[11] Pease, A., & Pease, B. (2004). The Definitive Book of Body Language: How to read others' thoughts by their gestures, Buderim, Australia: Pease
International.
[12] Do an internet search for word frequency list and target language, for example, word frequency list French. Word frequency lists
were available at http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists at the time of printing.
[13] Foer, J., Moonwalking with Einstein, Penguin, 2011.

[14] This observation was first published by Richard Bandler and John Grinder and this spelling technique is based on work done by
Richard Bandler. This initial work has been supported by the University of Utah Department of Psychology and University of Moncton in
New Brunswick, Canada. Their findings are summarised in Dilts, R. and Epstein, T., Dynamic Learning, Meta, Capitola, California,1995.

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