Glossy wrote:The most important advice I can give is “never, ever learn grammar explicitly”. For example, never waste any time on memorizing declension and conjugation tables. Grammar is either learned subconsciously, in the process of consuming tons of reading and listening material, or it’s not learned at all. When you’re speaking, you don’t have time to think “what’s the first person plural dative of verb X?” After you’ve read and listened enough, that will come to you subconsciously by itself.
Although I seriously avoided much native content early on, I was able to speak with natives having not read a single book for natives and having studied grammar explicitly and very close to entirely exclusively, including much memorisation of grammatical concepts, rules, lists of rules and exceptions to rules.
I did indeed find that I had to think hurriedly to ensure I was applying the correct memorised grammar or conjugation to utterances about to exit my vocal chords. So I disagree. It is
possible, but I agree in that it’s not perfect.
However, nowadays I don’t memorise as much explicit grammar and I would recommend not memorising lists of rules and exceptions, but simply aim to understand them initially and revisit those tricky grammatical concepts until they ‘click’ while concurrently getting a feel for the language via reading and listening to increasingly complex native content.
Glossy wrote:The younger you are, the easier it is to learn a foreign language.
Adults can learn rather well, imo, but I do understand the point you’re making. From the perspective of a pliable brain, perhaps younger people are much better equipped for learning a foreign language.
However, I’ve learned French as an adult, and not an entirely young one at that. Yes I probably could’ve done some things better in my youth when it comes to learning a language, but why didn’t I? I lacked consistent effort, I was naive and lacked the insight that life experience and language learning experience brings to understand what is needed to really learn a language to an advanced level. Is it just good timing or was it that I was never really able to commit as a child/teenager? So if it was easier then, when I was younger, why have I achieved it so much later? All
factors considered, I disagree with your statement. Adults can learn easier than children, or vice-versa, it depends on the circumstances of one’s life.
Glossy wrote:The ability to learn to speak one without an accent disappears after the age of 13. It IS possible however to learn to understand a language like a native in adulthood.
There is definitely some validity to this statement, however making such a generalised statement, well in short, there’s always exceptions. I don’t claim to sound like a native, but I do claim to sound incredibly close to the accent of a native French speaker without ever having lived in a francophone country. This is enough to tell me that it IS possible to not only learn to understand a language like a native in adulthood, but also to SOUND like one, although this is MUCH rarer after perhaps the age of 13 or thereabouts, agreed.
Glossy wrote:It’s good to start by reading with an online dictionary. You can pick a children’s book, then progress to adult ones. At first you’ll look up almost every word. As you do more of it, you’ll be looking up less and less.
The next step would be to start watching videos. News, movies, documentaries - whatever interests you. I think it’s a good idea to spend more time on this than on anything else. Don’t be scared if at first you only understand 5% or 10% of the words. That’s actually a good point for starting this. The more you watch, the more you’ll understand. You’ll start guessing the meaning of words and phrases from people’s intonations, body language, etc.
I think speaking should come last.
If you’re going to learn Mandarin, I would recommend ChinesePod and the Pleco dictionary.
It takes several times more time to go from English to Chinese than from English to a language like Norwegian.
Generally good advice, remembering not all paths suit others, but of course you’re speaking from your perspective and giving advice based on that, and it’s quite good.
I don’t mean to pick apart your post, your generalisations seem logical, but there are always exceptions, to which I believe I am one.