When I started my Vietnamese intensive course, a lot of non-linguistists I talked to said that the Chinese students would have an advantage because they already speak a tonal language. It is true that some westerns could be completely stumped by tones, and just not get the language at all. But, a person who already speaks a tonal language does not have an advantage over a westerner or a Korean or Japanese who is intelligent, motivated and who is trying to learn tones.
You often hear people say that certain words are “difficult”, but I don’t think this word applies to languages. Instead, I suggest you use the word “unfamiliar” instead. Read on to see why…
Most adults fail to learn a foreign language no matter how many years they sit in a classroom or live where the language is spoken because they spend nearly all of their study time learning “about” their target language instead of the language itself. This is the critical difference between “studying” and “learning”.
With 11 languages under his belt, Steve Kaufmann is an extremely accomplished language learner. His extensive language learning wisdom in shared in his book titled The Way of the Linguist: A Language Learning Odyssey and his online language learning system called LingQ. In the interview, we discuss what Steve believes to be the 7 most common misconceptions about language learning, how to learn Mandarin effectively, and the role of a good teacher.
In this interview with Antonio Graceffo, he “pulls no punches” (pun intended) when sharing his views on how to learn a foreign language effectively. His language learning wisdom stems from formal training as an interpreter and translator at Germany’s prestigious University of Mainz, coupled with over a decade of living, learning, and working in South and East Asia.
The term “Multiple Intelligences” was first coined by Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner. His theory is spelled out in the 1983 book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In the book, Gardner posits that humans possess many varied types of intelligence, not just one. This stands in stark contrast to IQ and standardized testing, both of which look at intelligence as a one-dimensional concept: you either have it or you don’t. While Gardners’s work is still somewhat controversial, I think it is a helpful way to frame intelligence and useful tool for choosing effective language learning methods and materials for oneself.