Have you experienced the moment when you somehow understand the meaning of a foreign word, despite the fact you never learnt the language?
You must be excited, right?
What about when you eavesdrop a conversation in a foreign language and you also can understand the main point without learning the language before?
You must be thinking that you are smart. And you sure are!
Secret magic of languages
There are thousands of languages in this world. People who live in multilingual society tend to have much more exposure to foreign language than those who doesn’t.
My definition of “foreign language” is a language which is non-native to the speaker, it could also be any language spoken in the community, city, province, or country of the speaker.
So, why can we understand a foreign word without learning the language? If you can understand it, you are just lucky because this fact does not apply to speakers of every languages. English speakers will not hear any similar words in Chinese Mandarin (not to mention Chinesenized foreign names), but will certainly recognise some French words.
Languages are categorised into language families. To give an illustration, Romance languages consist of French, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, etc. Thus, these languages share similarities from vocabulary to grammar.
Quick tip: If you want to impress your friends and family with your language skills, learn languages from the same language family, you will be surprised of how quick you learn!
One may use numerous ways of learning methods during language learning process. There are two methods that I would like to emphasise here: breaking down sentence structure and creating association.
Our brain remembers better when an experience is attached. For example, you have said a wrong word and given the reaction from the listeners, it creates an experience which turns out to be embarrassment. Since then, you will always remember this mistake, the outcome, and will never want to repeat the same mistake.
Using the same theory, creating associations between experience and new words of a foreign language make you remember them easier. You can use your imagination to create a situation where you and your friends are conversing in a foreign language. With your creativity, extend the storyline by adding more characters and ideas.
Breaking down the structure
Another way is to breakdown sentence structure. This means dividing words into subject, verb, object, and much more details, such as preposition, adjective, adverb. Note that, it is advisable to read about the definition of grammatical components in advance. You are ought to understand what each of them means.
By doing this, you can learn about constructing and deconstructing sentences. You can then create many new sentences by deconstructing a sentence and use its base to construct new sentences. For example, in the sentence of “My name is Teddy”, you can break it down to “my”, “name”, “is”, “Teddy”. By knowing that “my” is a possessive pronoun, you can then change “my” to something else, such as “his” to make “his name is Teddy”.
Teddy is an avid language learner, blogger, engineer, and a collector. He has a dream to make this world a better place through language learning. Apart from learning languages, he also likes reading and playing ukulele. You can speak with him in Medan Hokkien, Indonesian, English, Chinese Mandarin, Spanish, and Esperanto. Visit his blog at www.neeslanguageblog.com!