What Are The First Things You Learn In A New Language?

Instead of a long post today about things I do when I learn, today I'm going to change it up a bit and ask for input from my readers.

When you first decide to learn a new language, what are the things you need to know? What strategies do you use? What tricks do you have for getting started?

Answer in the comment section below.

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Author: Yearlyglot
I'll lead you through a 12 month journey from knowing absolutely nothing about a language to having professional fluency.

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  • I suppose it depends on the language. For any romance or germanic language, I'm fine starting with text, then using native materials - TV, radio, movies.But for languages that I have no base reference, I try for an audio course first (hopefully with transcriptions). I went that route with Turkish, and it helped a lot.And I guess for languages with a different script, learning the writing system would come first, or at least in combination with some decent audio.That's hugely simplified, I know. But I can't see a one-size fits all approach for all languages.Eventually, of course, the goal is to be speaking (well, it's my goal, anyway). That's not usually my first step, but I try to get to it as soon as I can in the process.

  • While I don't have that much experience in starting to learn a new language, I did develop an approach I used to begin learning Portuguese recently.Judging from how I learned Spanish, I decided that getting the basics of pronunciation down should be the first task to do. It would allow me to start consuming a lot of content to build up both the vocabulary and the comprehension skill.Without knowing the rules of pronunciation, I might not get the best results from listening. And the other activities (like reading) can even hurt by drilling the incorrect sound patterns into my brain.To achieve better and faster results, I took some lessons from a native speaker and they were an incredible help!

  •      First, I scour the internet for good free basics with audio.  I try to learn basic phrases, basic grammar and learn the 100 or so most common words in conversation.  (You were a helpful source when I started Turkish) Then I try my phrases out on a friend who is fluent or conversational in the language. (I usually don't start a language if this resource is not available)  Then, if it seems to be working, I invest in a dictionary, a phrase book, a course book and maybe a grammar reference.  After I've gone through several chapters in the course book and some of the phrase book, I try to meet regularly with my friend and others who speaks the language, and we're off!
         This has gotten me to survival level in French and Italian, hopefully soon in Turkish and others.  Of course after this the strategy changes to improve my level, but that's another story.

  • First thing I do is find a friend who is a native speaker. Then I read.A technique that I've discovered (that I actually like doing) is to take one of my children’s beginner books and start translating them. They're usually level one reading books so they provide basic sentences and good vocabulary for things like colors, shapes, animals, and other useful words.

  • I would say that one of the first things I learn is the flow and rhythm of a language and pronunciation. I almost treat the language like a song in this regard making it easier for me to remember phrases and become familiar with how the language is spoken for better comprehension. To say that this helps me would be an understatement; it's vital. 

  • Same here, first thing is to listen and get an idea of how it sounds. identify if there are problem sounds or the bits that all sound mush or 'samey' those bits are probably where I am gong to have to learn to listen for distinctions I don't normally bother with.

  • Same here. I like going to the Wikipedia phonology page for the language, and just playing around familiarizing myself with the sounds. For example: 

  • Basics > Reading > Writing > SpeakingGo through a grammar book to learn conjunctions, conjugation and any grammar surprises (such as trennbar verbs in german). Then focus on input by going through the Harry Potter series in the language, looking up any unknown words and plugging them into SRS. At this time I also begin writing short notes with what vocabulary I have and start tuning my ear to pronunciation by listening to music w/ lyrics in front of me. After I finish the first Harry Potter book and I feel comfortable with the decent vocabulary size, I continue translating through the rest of the Harry Potter series and begin watching movies, foreign TV channel streams and trying to communicate with native speakers.

  • Pronunciation first and foremost.  I might be weird but if I can't pronounce it I can't read it and I damned sure can't listen to it or speak it.  This is actually why I like Pimsleur: it's fantastic at teaching you correct pronunciation--it's slow, it starts out very simply, it really emphasizes correct pronunciation, the audio quality is very good, and they use native speakers.I could spend two weeks or two months with that, just depends, but once I've got the basic pronunciation down then I can move onto reading it at which point I'll learn whatever grammar I have to (I like the Practice Makes Perfect workbooks for this) and a metric ton of vocabulary.  Then I'll generally move onto listening comprehension with movies and music, and after I feel somewhat competent I'll start getting on language exchanges and talking to natives.Cheers,

  • Learning the alphabet is crucial. That's the first thing I touch when I learn a new language. When I studied Japanese language, it was a really a challenge for me but when I realized I had to learn the alphabet first (katakana, hiragana) and I was right...the learning process became more fun, interesting. So, whatever language you want to learn - Spanish, French, Dutch, etc. - take time to learn the alphabet first...and you will appreciate the whole learning process more. 

  • 1. Listen to the language for a period of time before you start learning it.-According to a study conducted by Paul Sulzberger, exposing yourself to the sound patterns of a language first is a good way to start. see:https://lingounited.com/lan... on how to fully utilize these methods.Hope this helps you out.

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