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Your mood is vital!

When you begin to speak your new language, how you feel is more important than what you know.

If you know a few words, and you deliver them in a relaxed, enjoyable manner, you have already succeeded.

This series of posts will show you how to turn your practice conversations into powerful stepping stones  toward fluency.

The key moods to maintain are competence, comfort and joy.

I will help you develop these in a variety of ways.

Section 1

Preparation: pronunciation

The first aspect of this process is developing decent pronunciation. You need to feel comfortable about the words you are saying. You need to feel competent about how you are saying them. This means you can read your new language and pronounce the great majority of words comfortably.

You don’t need to be perfect. You need to know what you are doing and feel reasonably comfortable about it.

Practicing pronunciation in short frequent sessions (2-3 minutes at a time) is the best way to improve. Repeat what you hear as best as you can (movie, podcast, etc.) and read out loud (anything you fancy). These are two proactive ways of developing good pronunciation. I have written several other posts about pronunciation. They will help you learn how to sound good in more detail.

 

Part 2

Preparation: organization

When you begin speaking, you want to feel that you are doing so competently. The best way to do this is to organize yourself.

Be specific. Be humble. Evaluate, don’t judge.

  1. Be specific. Decide what you specifically want to communicate. No one can “speak Spanish” or “speak German”. But one can learn to order a meal in German or introduce oneself in French.
  2. Pick out the 10 or 15 topics which are most useful to you. Study how to present them, write them out; practice delivering them. When these are easy, create new ones. They are specific to you and your communication needs. What are the things you feel comfortable about discussing in your own language?
  3. Decide to use  a major point of grammar. Study it or review it. Make sure you are competent in using it. For example, study how to use the past or the future in your new language; then practice making many talks using it.
  4. Being humble means that you only take on what you can handle reasonably well. It also means you accept you will occasionally make mistakes and get stumped.
  5. Mistakes in language learning are indicators of what you want to learn next.
  6. Evaluate. Don’t judge. This is key. Look at your performance objectively. Do the best you can; perhaps record yourself. Then decide on the best way to improve your performance next time. “What was missing?” “What improvement will help you the most?”

Preparing yourself ahead of time will ensure that you have a good experience when you practice speaking. (I have written several posts about how to do this better specifically.)

We have covered the two important ways to prepare yourself for speaking practice. In the next post we will talk about what you actually do when you enter the practice stage and begin to speak.

In this post, I will present typical problems or issues which confront language learning students and give some useful ideas and solutions.

  1. “I can’t understand when the natives speak.”

Solution

The solution for this is listening more. You don’t understand because your ear is not used to hearing this language. Find things to listen to that you enjoy! With the internet, there are millions of things you can listen to, most of them for free. Explore, be creative. Find new things and try them.

There are no rules! Listen to whatever you like. Find things that you understand at least partly.

 

  1. ”When I watch movies, I don’t understand.”

Solution 1

Watch with subtitles smartly.

First watch the whole movie or a section of it with subtitles. This gets you to understand the story and the characters. Then you can watch it again, paying attention to the language, since you already know what is going on. Keep the subtitles on but try to hear what is being said in the foreign language first or at the same time.

Or try it without subtitles at all.

What words do you hear? Are you understanding the gist of the story?

 

Solution 2

Watch with close captions: i.e. the Spanish or French movie with the Spanish or French text. It will be much easier to understand if you see the words written out. Listen a few times with and without captions.

 

 

 

A. I understand, but I can’t say what I want or need to say.

Solution

You need to practice speaking in a systematic way.

I have outlined this in my post LINK.

You cannot yet run a marathon. Practice walking fast half miles first!

The trick is to control your speaking practice. You do this by

  1. Staying relaxed and taking your time.
  2. Limiting the scope. Simple grammar, simple vocab.
  3. Deciding and preparing ahead of time. “I will speak about the trip I want to take next year.” Write some quick notes for yourself
  4. If you have no clue how to say something, write a note for later and move on.
  5. You are practicing driving your car in a parking lot, you are not driving to Chicago. That will come later. Doing it this way will let you feel comfortable and practice something achievable.
  6. You can look up the vocab or the grammar you need ahead of time.
  7. You can write something out, but when you begin your story, close your notebook.
  8. I can’t seem to memorize. I learn it one day and forget it the next.

I have written several detailed posts about memorization  LINK

If you do not remember, it is because you are not organizing the memorization process efficiently. You need to

  1. Focus intensely. You remember what is inTereStin g or stran****geee. You forget what is boring.
  2. Create good associations. (see posts)
  3. Review and self-test for a while. This will transfer the info from short-term to long-term memory.

Doing these three steps will allow the information to stick. If you miss any of the steps, you may remember less.

B. “The grammar, or the verbs ar really confusing.”

The solution

  1. Learn in small bites. You may be looking at too much information at once. When you are initially learning, you need to do it in small chunks.

When you learn to ride a bicycle, you first have to track … looking        ahead, keeping the bike upright, pedaling, turning the handlebars … all at once.

  1. Spend some time making sure you understand how the piece of grammar works. If your book is confusing, find one that is clear. The best way to learn grammar is by reading many examples. Examples are much easier to grasp than explanations.
  2. Three-year old children learn grammar without knowing how to read or write. They do it in small bites. They make mistakes but they keep practicing.

We will cover more issues in the next post.

This course shows you in detail how to learn a foreign language efficiently and enjoyably.

I have learned 9 languages throughout the year and in this guide I show you tools and techniques that work wonderfully.

You simply need to decide to learn.

Enjoy it!

I. QUICK START-UP GUIDE

  1. Before you start studying a language, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Am I genuinely interested in this language?
  • Does it sound attractive to me? (This is a vital question since you will be spending a lot of time immersed in it.) Would you date someone whose voice you hated?
  • Am I attracted to the culture?
  • Are there books and movies that I want to explore?
  • Are there natives with whom I can interact? (In the internet age, the answer is always “yes”

 

  1. Once you have a clearer idea about the language or languages you want to study, ask the following questions.
  • How challenging a language is it? (Find out by doing a quick online search.)
  • How close is it to my mother tongue or to a language I already know? (The closer, the easier!)
  • Is the writing system difficult? Does it use a completely different writing system?
  1. Clarify your purpose
  • Are you learning to travel, to connect with friends or to run a business?
  • What level of competency do you require or desire? Do you want to order food, watch movies or have deep conversations?
  1. Establish a time frame
  • How much time do you want to devote to the project: weeks? Months? Years?
  • How many hours a week will be comfortably and naturally available to you?

 

READY TO START?

Once you have decided to study a new language, you can approach the project in the following sequence.

  1. Exploration

Start to listen to the language, watch movies, videos and newscasts. Go on websites. Remain light and inquisitive. Let your curiosity guide you. You are not actually studying: you are merely gathering information and getting a feel for the language.

 

  1. Jumping into a course

Find something online or buy a book. Duolingo is great for that (www.duolingo.com) The idea here is to start: anything! (You can always change systems later.) Ride on your enthusiasm and learn as much as you can right away.

 

  1. Systematic organization

Organize the five different areas of study of your new language. Gather the materials you will need to learn efficiently.

  • Pronunciation and basic reading
  • Studying new material
  • Memorization
  • Input (Listening and reading)
  • Output (speaking and writing

Whoever you are, you will want to become good at these five tasks. The better you are at each, the faster you progress will be. Conversely, ignoring any area will adversely affect your capacity.

We are all capable of performing adequately in each these areas. The obvious proof of this is that you learned English (or another language) as a small child. We may have different learning styles, but language learning is hard-wired in our biology. The secret is to develop each in ways which specifically work for you.

Here are the Five Areas you want to embrace.

copyright 2019 Focus Language

HUNDRED-DAY CHALLENGE

One way to start learning a language is by doing a 100-day Challenge.

When we start a project, motivation and excitement  are high.

Use this to get yourself going.

100-DAY LANGUAGE LEARNING CHALLENGE

 

Practice efficiently and enjoyably for 100 days.

Develop your knowledge and performance automatically.

Some days you will be brilliant. Others you might feel your skills are deficient.

Keep going regardless.

Language learning is very much like training for a sport: you need to know the fundamentals. You need to practice in a competent way. You need to keep going for a while, and you need to have fun.

5 AREAS OF STUDY

There are 5 areas which should be hit most days: at least 4 or 5 times a week.

  • Input: Listening and reading
  • Memorization
  • Output: speaking and (writing)
  • Studying
  • Pronunciation

I have written longer blog posts http://focuslanguage.com/blog/ on each of these areas. Read the ones which you feel attracted to.

SECTION ONE

INPUT

SHORT VERSION

Read and listen to something in the language every day.

Input means listening and reading.

Input is incredibly powerful. There are millions of children and young people all over the world learning English just by watching American movies, television shows and by reading social media platforms and gaming websites.

They have the right idea!

Do both every day. Decide in the moment which is more important that day.

Make sure you do both almost every day of the week.

a. LISTENING – 5-15 MINUTES

Activities: podcasts, movies, television shows, YouTube videos, newscasts, songs, www.yabla.com, www.lingq.com  (or anything else you can discover in your searches).

 

THE PROCESS

 

Listen to something every day. Vary the venues. Experiment. Always keep it enjoyable.

 

Listen in a conscious and relaxed manner.

 

Don’t analyze or try to translate. Just follow the words and let the meaning spontaneously emerge in your mind. Understanding is a function of attention, not will.

 

Relax, pay attention, breathe. Stay focused.

 

This is not the time for thinking, judging or deciding. This is the time for staying present no matter what.

 

CHOOSING MATERIAL

You (normally) need to have a basic understanding of what you hear. You don’t need to understand every word. You want to have at least a basic idea of what is said. You need to understand 40% or more of what you hear. Your brain will fill in the missing pieces.

It is useful for pronunciation but not for comprehension to listen to materials you don’t understand at all.

Experiment!

It’s fine to have subtitles or close captions running while you listen (some of the time), but make sure you are hearing the words. As you listen, you hear. As you hear, let the words and phrases sink in without your doing or thinking anything.

There are many jokes made about the husband who doesn’t seem to hear a single word his wife says. Rather than doing that, be like an attentive lover, focused and receiving every word your beloved speaks.

Love and pleasure are important in our life. Make sure that what you listen to is wonderful, enjoyable or even blissful for you.

Who wants to hear a boring person with a horrible voice droning on about irrelevant things?

It’s your responsibility to find material you enjoy.

b. READING 5-15 minutes

ACTIVITIES

Novels, magazines, websites, college readers, comic books, Animé, news articles, articles about your hobbies and interests. Anything in the foreign language.

 

THE PROCESS

The process is exactly the same as before, but you use your eyes instead of your ears.

 

Read something every day. Spontaneously vary what you read. Experiment. Always keep it interesting and fun for yourself

 

Read consciously and stay relaxed.

 

Once again don’t analyze or try to translate. Just follow the words and let the meaning spontaneously emerge in your mind. As we said before, understanding is a function of attention, not will. Understanding is an unconscious brain function. Let it happen.

If you don’t understand anything at all, bring the reading level down.

Feel free to put the text into Google Translate paragraph by paragraph. But, always read in the new language before you read the translation. Then read the paragraph (or sentence) a second time. This approach makes it much faster and easier to read. It lets you learn new vocabulary.

Relax, pay attention, breathe. Stay focused.

 

Enjoy your reading time. Find a comfortable place. Stay relaxed and keep breathing.

CHOOSING MATERIAL

There are no rules. Read anything you might enjoy. In print or on a screen.

Again, you want to have a basic understanding of what you hear. You don’t need to know all the vocabulary and grammar. You do want to have at least a basic idea of what is written. Using Google Translate can really help if you don’t use it as a replacement for doing the work.

Experimenting will keep it alive and fun for you.

http://focuslanguage.com/blog/2018/12/13/reading-to-develop-fluency/

 

 

The flower of learning

SECTION TWO

MEMORIZING

Learning new words and grammar is vital to your learning process.

The key is to find a systematic and efficient way to learn and remember new language information.

If you constantly forget something you have previously learned, you need to strengthen your memorization skills and system.

ACTIVITIES

Your primary memorization tools are the mighty flash card, the laser focus of your mind and your extraordinary imagination.

Use flash cards.

  • Use physical flash cards. (Old school)
  • Use an electronic Spaced Repetition System like Anki or Mnemosyne. (Electronic flash cards).
  • Many online programs have automatic flash card generation systems.

Learn to memorize efficiently

Read my blog posts about memorization if you want more detailed info.

The Keys to memorization are Focus, Association, Review and Self-Testing.

Memorization is a learned skill. Your parents taught you what was important and had to be remembered: numbers? Names? Spatial orientation? Muscle competence? Social skills? Recipes? Verbal or visual information?

 

THE PROCESS

FLASH CARDS AND SRS

(The first is physical and the second digital: same idea.)

Make all your flash cards with full sentences, never single words ones.

  • “For” makes a poor flashcard. It is hard to remember because it doesn’t connect to anything.
  • “I work for my uncle” is much better. It places the word in context and shows you how to use it.
  • You can also make cloze deletion cards. They are very effective.

Front of the card: “I work …… my uncle.”

Back of the card: “I work for my uncle.”

Add notes if you like. This type of card trains you to access the word you are learning directly.

  • Generally, we recommend you create your cards in the following way:

Front: New language sentence -> Back: English sentence

You are coding the information. You need to See the correct version several times before you try to go English -> New language

Summary:

You will normally use French to English or German to English, or Mandarin to English flash cards. This teaches you the correct way to say things.

Later, if you like, you can reverse the order to challenge yourself.

Make sure you know before you start to recreate.

The cloze deletion cards will normally use no English. (English notes in the back are OK.)

 

THE PROCESS OF MEMORIZATION

(See blog posts for detail about this process.)

FOCUS -> ASSOCIATION -> REVIEW -> SELF-TESTING

These are the pillars of memorization.

 

  1. FOCUS

Focus your attention intensely on the word or grammar info you want to remember. Short bursts of intense concentration are powerful.

Long, diluted, multi-tasky, distracted periods are ineffectual.

This is related to our fight and flight mechanisms.

Seals do not worry much about tigers or sea gulls, but they are highly motivated to track polar bears. Polar bears actively track seals and humans carrying spears, not spring flowers or ants.

We remember what is relevant to us, what concerns our survival or our pleasure drives. We ignore boring, uninteresting irrelevant details.

Your challenge is to make unimportant info (a new word) highly relevant: ie memorable.

 

  1. ASSOCIATION

The secret to developing good memory is to create strong associations.

“What does this word sound like?” ”What does it look like?”

These are the first 2 questions to ask.

Then create a little cartoonish story which connects the SOUND of the word with its MEANING.

I describe the process in detail in my blog post.

 

  1. REVIEW

Reviewing (before you forget) allows new info to go from short-term to long-term memory.

SRS systems do this automatically for you.

 

 

  1. SELF-TESTING

The best way to review is to test yourself and to strengthen your associations every time you forget the info.

Keep using your flash cards in the same order: Foreign language to English.

Testing yourself prods your memory and strengthens the neural connections.

Simply reading the vocabulary is a far weaker way to memorize.

 

CHOOSING MATERIAL

Choose whatever you think will be of use to you.

Make flash cards with full sentences.

Use a native dictionary or a grammar book which gives you correct sentences.

Google Translate is a terrible way to create sentences. It will betray you in horrendous and absurd ways.

Google Translate is fantastic to translate Foreign Language to English.

It is almost useless in the English to Foreign Language direction. You cannot trust the translation it gives you.

 

Blog posts:

http://focuslanguage.com/blog/2018/12/09/memorization-part-1-focus/

http://focuslanguage.com/blog/2018/12/09/memorization-part-2-association/

http://focuslanguage.com/blog/2018/12/09/memorization-part-3/

blowing language bubbles

SECTION THREE

SPEAKING

Get Motivated, get organized, get disciplined and Speak!

HOW TO PRACTICE SPEAKING

Language students often say: “I understand pretty well. I can read OK. But I can’t speak. I can’t say what I want and need to say!”

Here is a technique that really helps with this problem.

(I have taught it to many students and successfully used it myself with a number of languages.)

 

PRELIMINARIES

  1. To practice this technique, you first need to feel reasonably comfortable with your pronunciation. You need to be reasonably at ease saying and reading your new language.
  2. You also need to be quite familiar with the most important and recurring vocabulary: the words we use constantly (I, go, and, but, my etc.) Programs like Duolingo or first-year school textbooks will contain all this vocab. I am providing a link to a useful 625-word list you can use. (The list appears in the second half of the article.) https://blog.fluent-forever.com/base-vocabulary-list/

 

Having this base will allow you to practice smoothly and enjoyably. The more you practice in this way, the easier it will be for you to speak.

Once you pronounce reasonably well and are familiar with basic vocabulary, you are ready to begin.

The more you practice, the easier and the more natural it will become for you.

You will eventually be able to practice speaking at any time, without any effort or preparation.

You will finally be able to function flawlessly in your new language, as naturally as you do in your native language.

ROUTINE

Let’s establish a simple and automatic routine. This will work exactly like a gradual exercise program.

I suggest you commit yourself for six weeks or to a 100-day challenge.

You will practice for 15 minutes.

You can divide your practice into short 2 or 3-minute rounds.

If you like, use a timer. Speak as best as you can until the bell ring. Then stop.

Your job is simply to make sentences for that time.

Do the 15 minutes in one session or subdivide your time into 3 or more mini-sessions.

There are only 2 rules:

  1. Keep making sentences
  2. Relax

You will most likely make some mistakes. That’s OK. Do not worry.

(I intend to make a recording to help you understand how to do this if you need help.)

(Once upon a time) …… (there was a magician) ….. (who lived) ….. (in a forest.)

This is the way you want to structure your sentences.

Notice that I am subdividing each sentence into short logical units!

This is the secret.

It is a natural way to speak. It is the way we speak our native language: not word by word; not in long complicated sentences.

You also do this automatically when you read a story out loud to a small child.

The princess returned home ….. and ….. they lived ….. happily ever after.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT

As you practice, understand that flow and rhythm are at least as important as the words you are speaking.

When you have the recording (soon to be made available), go through it as many times as you want.

When you feel ready, do your best to do the same thing on your own.

  • You can start by making a sentence in English and translating it. (The way the future recording will do it.)
  • Once it becomes easier, you can speak directly in the new language: slowly, clearly and in short logical units.
  • If you prefer, skip the translation step, and start making sentences right away.

 

Your story does not have to make sense. Make simple statements and connect them with words like : “but”, “therefore”, “if”.

MY PRACTICE STORY

Notice that my story does not particularly make sense. It is pure practice language.

It contains many words and constructions which we constantly use when we communicate.

To help you with memorizing your vocabulary, you are generating sentences containing the core words. (Keep the vocab list handy, if you like.)

Master these words. There are not many, and they are pure gold for you.

ON YOUR OWN

When you start out, you should practice with one subject at a time.

  • I … I … I … I….
  • I live in the city … and…. I work at night. I love vegetables… but… I don’t eat them. I watch television… with my friends… on the weekend… in the Spring. I drive my car… in the city… and… in the country. I drive fast… because… I am always late.

Or

  • we … we …we.
  • We eat in the morning …. But…. we sleep at night. We buy houses… in the city… and we sell them… to young people… with red hair. We never complain. We always laugh. We want to go… to Hawaii… next month. We need to buy… airline tickets… immediately. We will stay… in an airbnb. We will shop… in the city… and we will go… to the beach.

When you are comfortable making a story with one person, you can use two or more:

  • I … she … I … we, etc.
  • I love to sleep… but… she loves to run… She buys me diamonds… and… I buy her… red shoes. She loves shoes… because… she likes to run… with her friends… at night.

If the language you use has verb conjugations – like French, German or Hindi – it will help a lot to do this work one step at a time.

BABY STEPS.

Most people know the language information (vocab and grammar) 75-85% but they are unable to come up with it fast enough to communicate.

They may feel stuck or frustrated. Self-confidence may suffer.

The type of practice I suggest specifically works to remedy this problem.

To do it effectively, you must understand that it only about creating language. It is never about what you say.

A football player constantly practices running many patterns. If he does so effectively, he will be to use them in an actual game. This is exactly what you are doing.

Be smart about it and have fun practicing. Make up amusing or strange stories; or discuss things which are important to you.

Once you get used to the process, it is quite  a bit of fun and extremely satisfying to do.

It also automatically tells you

  • What you don’t know how to say (and want to).
  • What vocab or grammar you need to learn.
  • What pronunciation issues you feel.

PREPARATIONS

Decide what you will talk about (my trip to Hawaii in June, my view of the universe or my cousin’s volley ball tournament). Learn or review the vocab and the grammar you need to perform reasonably well.

You can make notes, have cue cards and prompts available.

Make it easy on yourself. Prepare the terrain.

If you want to run, you buy good shoes and you stretch. You pick a good time on a good day. You don’t run barefoot on thorns in 115 degree weather. Except for Steven.

Make mistakes, get stuck … but keep going.

You can record yourself if you like. It will reveal much to you when you listen to yourself. Be analytical and solution-seeking; not judgmental and critical.

Do an honest self-evaluation, and let it tell you what you need to do next.

SAMPLE SCRIPT

This would be a way of practicing these useful verbs: can, want, could, must, will, should, going to etc.

I want to work… in Australia… but… I want to live… in Europe. I don’t want to live… in Norway… because… I can’t speak Norwegian. I can’t speak Italian… so… I don’t want to live… in Italy. I need to buy a house… in Paris. I don’t need to buy… a big house. I want to buy… a small apartment. But first… I must buy a hat. I cannot live… in Paris… if I don’t have… a good hat. I could buy… a blue hat. I could steal… a green hat… but… I should not steal. I should eat vegetables… and… exercise every day.

Tonight… I want to sleep… but… I must work. I have a problem… I have to work… and… I have to sleep. If I sleep… I can’t work… and… if I work… I can’t sleep. Tomorrow… I will find an assistant. When I sleep… I won’t have to work.

Now… I can go… to Tucson. I must take a plane. I can’t drive… because… I need to arrive… at 8.  Etc…..

Notice that the story doesn’t really make sense; but I am certainly practicing my verbs! I am practicing making well-constructed sentences. My body and my mouth are getting used to creating language.

Regardless of what you are saying, make it sound good, make it sound smooth. Keep speaking clearly and slowly.

MISTAKES AND NOT KNOWING

People worry they are making mistakes or being ignorant will somehow ruin their future progress.

Not true!

It’s OK not to know. The important thing is to decide what you want to learn that you don’t know.

You will definitely make mistakes or be unsure how to say something. Here is how to use this situation.

  • Don’t worry about mistakes you are unaware of. (That will drive you mad.)
  • If you make a mistake with something you feel is important, jot down a quick note. (for example: “Review past tense” or “need word for house”)
  • If it seems unimportant, move on and forget it.

 

Speak. Do the best you can. Keep at it. Figure out what you need and what is missing.

 

Blue hills of China

SECTION FOUR

PRONUNCIATION (5-15 minutes)

SHORT VERSION

always track your pronunciation. Read and repeat.

The keys to pronunciation are

Awareness and Perseverance

Never, ever slack on pronunciation. Keep it in consciousness at all times.

I am delighted to break most rules. But not this one!

If you are speaking a language, you want to make it sound as good as possible all the time. No exceptions.

Once you do this for a while it will become absolutely automatic. You will no longer have to track it. You will just enjoy the new language the way you enjoy a good conversation in your mother tongue.

Native speakers will be grateful and pleased.

 

AWARENESS

A football or basketball player is constantly aware of his/her body, location; as well as the position and movement of the ball, all teammates and opponents. That is a lot of tracking! When you are athlete, this is happening while you are running and other people are trying to hit you or run you down.

You, as a language learner, simply need to be aware of your tongue, your lips, your jaw and the air coming out of your lungs.

You also need to listen to the quality of the sound coming out of your mouth: is your English from Georgia, Sydney or London? Your French from Montréal or Paris?

Are you enjoying the sound or tolerating it?

Are you relaxed or tense?

Are you having fun or suffering?

The most important questions are the last two. Speaking your new language has to become a pleasurable experience.

PERSEVERANCE

Keep at it.

You are teaching your body a new dance. Relax and enjoy it.

THE PROCESS

We learn pronunciation by listening to and imitating natives. You listened to your parents from your crib and babbled for a while. Now you can complain about anything you want in exquisite detail.

You listened. You imitated. You learned

ROUTINE

As a routine, you will, from now on, always pronounce as well as you can, whenever you are speaking. Try to be a benevolent observer for yourself.

Here is a list of exercises which will help develop good pronunciation.

  1. The Shadowing exercise

Turn on a recording or movie and repeat everything you hear as well as you can. Forget about the meaning. Imitate. If you miss something, ignore it.

This develops you ear to mouth coordination.

 

  1. Alternative Shadowing:

You may pause the recording if it is convenient before repeating. (Yabla)

 

  1. Reading out loud

Spend a few minutes a day reading very consciously. Notice what sounds are difficult or confusing.

 

  1. Conscious reading

In addition, I recommend that whenever you read anything during your study time, you read it with the same attention to pronunciation. This will greatly increase your ear and skill. Let it become a second nature.

  1. Listening consciously

Listening will improve your pronunciation.

What do you hear? How does it feel? How is it interesting or odd?

Most people do 75% of the work and stay uncomfortable for ever.

Finish the job and enjoy your life in your new language.

Natives will love you for it.

 

Blog Post:

LANGUAGES: 20 WAYS TO DEVELOP GREAT PRONUNCIATION

 

 

PART FIVE

STUDYING (5-15 minutes)

Studying is Preparation.

When you study, you prepare yourself to speak better, understand more, pronounce clearly, converse effortlessly.

There are no rules here. Whatever seems useful to you is fertile ground.

THE PROCESS

The pillars for effective study are…

Organization and Understanding.

The primary purpose of study is to understand.

You gather the words, grammar patterns and expressions that you want to learn in a systematic or spontaneous way.

You can read, listen and write to understand.

Studying always ties in to Memorization.

 

WHAT TO STUDY

Here are some of the most useful things to study.

VOCABULARY

Learning new words is arguably the most useful thing you can do.

Find the words you need and put them on flash cards in full sentence form.

There are internet lists and books containing any vocabulary you may want to learn.

This study must be turned into memorization or it is not useful.

PRACTICAL EXPRESSIONS

(are really part of memorization)

Knowing how to function in the new language – shopping, meeting people, traveling – is extremely useful. All stock expressions – Hi! Good bye! Where is the airport? – can be turned into flash cards and memorized.

 

GRAMMAR

Learning how to use the language and learning how to say what you want are important goals.

  • Knowing how to make basic (and eventually complex) sentences
  • Knowing how to use the present, future and past tenses.
  • Key grammar words (see blog post on grammar)

All this is to be transferred to full sentence flash cards as soon as possible.

Some people learn grammar by studying it.

Others learn it in context by seeing how it works.

There is no one better way to learn. It is personal style.

Try both.

Somehow, it must all end up on your flash cards.

Knowing where things to put usually useful very is.

 

PRONUNCIATION

When you begin this journey, it is really worth your while to learn how to correctly pronounce your new language. It is the greatest source of confidence or insecurity.

Pronouncing well insures rapport with native speakers. “She is one of us!”

Some people study pronunciation.

Others learn it unconsciously simply by listening and repeating.

It is once again a matter of style.

 

DUOLINGO

Duolingo is a wonderful and automatic way to learn how to use your new language. It teaches you basic words and grammar patterns. It chooses the most important things to learn and is relentless in teaching them to you. It demands that you remember. It teaches you how to understand, speak, read and write.

It is not all you need to become a fluent speaker, but it is very useful in helping you learn and remember the basics. It keeps you learning.

It is easy to use and free www.duolingo.com. I suggest you try it out.

There are many other programs and systems available. Explore them too.

No rules!

WRITING AND PRACTICE EXERCISES

It is quite useful to do written and oral exercises to practice what you are learning.

Particularly when studying grammar, you want to make sure that you are learning the patterns correctly.

Studying is all about understanding patterns and knowing how to put them together.

Writing also helps fixing info into your memory.

There are countless workbooks that help you practice grammar. Try them out if that approach appeals to you.

I believe that doing systematic exercises helps you develop competence and self-confidence. (If doing so appeals to you.)

STUDYING ALWAYS MOVES TO MEMORIZATION

Always!

Take whatever you study and make memorization flash cards.

THE BASICS

I plan to add a list of top words and grammar patterns to learn in any language to this basic 100-day challenge. Modify or add to it. Each language has unique elements.

 

  1. CONCLUSION

You are ready to start.

  1. Commit to 100 continuous days

Or

  1. Commit to 5 days a week
  2. Cover each of the five areas every day, even if for a few minutes.
  3. Keep going and get the results
  4. Enjoy your journey.

 

  1. CONTACT ME

jps@focuslanguage.com

 

  1. RESOURCES

Vocabulary

https://www.businessinsider.com/zipfs-law-and-the-most-common-words-in-english-2013-10

https://blog.fluent-forever.com/base-vocabulary-list/

https://www.fluentin3months.com/most-common-300-words/

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-44569277