All posts by katiejurek

Help a friend speak, too!

I was able to encourage a friend to begin Michel Thomas’s Language Learning Method today, and he blazed through the first disc of French mere hours after he started it! I’d normally suggest he go a bit slower, but as long as he’s motivated, I won’t get in his way! This made me feel pretty accomplished given that he had a seriously stubborn attitude about language learning beforehand, even calling me overconfident and cocky for thinking I’d be able to speak Dutch this December! All it takes is the right materials to get you started, and once you’ve gained the insight that learning languages is not hard, you’re one step closer on your way to becoming an efficient language learner!

Singing helps when learn languages!

One of the best language tips I can think of would be to sing to music in your target language. The number one area on which this works is pronunciation, which I like getting down to a science before starting to learn too many words if at all possible. It takes a lot of the average person’s stress out of learning a language, being able to look at at least 75% of words and say “I know how to say that aloud.”

I’ve also noticed that singing a song in another language can have a slightly different system from the way the language is usually spoken (I’m looking at you, Japanese!). For instance, sentences or words are often pronounced a certain way in a song to sound more melodic or gentler. This makes it easy to recognize individual sounds since they’re often exaggerated, and when you study sung language as opposed to just conversational language, the way words are sung can make you more familiar with different phonemes. This process has indoctrinated me the pronunciation of Dutch, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Sometimes you’ll be pleasantly surprised; for instance, Japanese and Spanish have remarkably similar pronunciation on the vast majority of words, but you wouldn’t expect that from a Latin vs. an Asian (more specifically Japonic) language!

My Spanish school experience

AP Spanish Class 2009 (click to enlarge)
One of the two white girls outta place!

Ever since I’ve found a method of learning languages that works for me, I’ve found that the academic approach I used in school for four classes’ worth of Spanish is vastly different and focuses FAR too heavily on writing. I didn’t actually SAY much in Spanish until the fourth class, which often required it. This meant that I only began speaking about the time I was in an atmosphere that was almost entirely dominated by native Spanish speakers. This can do a number on one’s confidence! I had always spoken to myself to practice, but taking three classes where others were also a bit unsure about speaking and then reaching the fourth – which only students genuinely interested in Spanish volunteered to take – meant that the difficulty of my lessons changed drastically!

Michel Thomas audio language method review

This is a short snippet of my thoughts on the Michel Thomas Language Learning Method, which I use to introduce myself to a language before speaking it with natives. The Michel Thomas method is one I regard very highly. It is an audio software, but don’t let that discourage you! I’ve had my fair share of terrible audio materials before, or ones that were unsatisfactory at best. However, with Michel Thomas, I went through the Japanese course a few months ago, but what I learned I still remember quite well! I love the pacing and the vision is incredibly unique: the teacher really does the majority of the work and you’re just there for the ride and to reap the incredible benefits! This method is how I introduce myself to a language (provided it’s one of the 12 that Michel Thomas covers, of course; I’ll have to look elsewhere for Swedish, for example); I am currently going through the Dutch version and am learning a TON in a very short period of time. After I finish the course, I speak to natives for the rest and continue studying every now and then, especially vocabulary. I 100% recommend this method to ANYONE, esPECially if you’ve been let down by language-learning materials in the past. You’ll learn quite a bit with Michel, but not only that; you’ll REMEMBER it!

Highly recommended! 🙂