Beyond Immersion: Learn a New Language with Better Listening Skills

Beyond Immersion: Learn a New Language with Better Listening Skills

Get on the fast track to accomplishing one of your bucket list items, learning another language. Chris Lonsdale’s TEDx talk offers five principles and seven actions that will help anyone learn to speak a new language fluently within just six months. The most important of these is perhaps to become better at observing and listening.P

In the 18-minute video, Lonsdale, who learned to speak Chinese in half a year, busts some myths about language acquisition. For example, immersion per se won’t necessarily help you learn the language, and learning a language isn’t about acquiring knowledge. Instead, it’s in large part about psychology and physiological training: becoming familiar with (and open to) new sounds that our brains tend to filter out, as well as coordinating the muscles in our faces. P

The principles and actions recommended here include many we’ve discussed before for learning several languages in a few years, as well as creating your own 90-day program, such as getting a language mentor and concentrating on the most often used words. However, Lonsdale’s technique puts more emphasis on communication and listening skills: Listening a lot for patterns and rhythms, focusing on getting the meaning first even if you don’t understand the words (e.g., through observing body language), copying the facial movements of someone speaking the new language, and using mental imagery to directly connect to the language.

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