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I’ve really begun to think this lately. A lot of language learners who use an SRS (Spaced Repetition System) for memorizing sentences and vocabulary or what-not spend a very large amount of time reviewing rather than exploring in the language.

Lately, I’ve been focusing a lot on words when I initially encounter them. If i think they’re interesting or they have a kanji in common, I’ll write them down on my whiteboard or a post-it note and stick them on my wall by where I sit. When they’ve been up on my wall for a about a week, I just erase the board or throw the notes away. I then repeat this process as I go push through the language in the wild.

As far as SRS goes. I think the reviews should be snorlax-level lazy.I’m doing 2 main decks now. A Japanese deck and a Polish deck.

I have them set to show 2 new cards a day and the sessions are set at a 5 card max. Obviously 3 old cards and 2 new cards if there are any in queue. If I really feel like it, I’ll go further along in the decks for more reviews but most of the time, I don’t.

After you get to a certain level in a language, the huge review sessions are almost counter-productive in my opinion. If you’re going to use an SRS, be very restrictive on the time you spend on reviewing content and better utilize than time by letting your brain have a chance to be exposed to more and more new words and content.

When I was going heavy into the 10,000 SRS sentences project for learning Japanese, I barely ever reviewed more than 30 sentences a day. I spent most of my time adding cards and trying to read them in a Japanese accent when I entered them. I feel my Japanese is at a respectable level and the core of my knowledge came from that period. I think I got to around 5,500 sentences before I got bored with the method and starting playing with Japanese in other ways.


Guest post by Lindsey Wright

A World Tongue: A Top Ten of Learnable Languages

Did you know that many history and English Ph.D. programs in the United States require that students be proficient in another language other than English? Nowadays, even high schools are encouraging students to learn language via online courses or through language software like Rosetta Stone. The benefits to being fluent in two languages (being bilingual) extend well beyond academia to areas in business, travel and the world wide web, which interconnects the world’s population, financially and socially. Being able to speak two or more languages is certainly a valuable asset to one who is in business and international relations, and is a priceless skill to those attempting to understand and appreciate foreign cultures.

Before listing some of most practical languages to acquire, it’s important to consider the facts and criteria that are factored into the ratings. There are approximately seven billion people currently calling Earth home. The top nation (in population density) is China, with around one and a half billion citizens. Having said that, it’s little surprise that Chinese Mandarin dialect is the most used in the world, with about thirteen percent of the world’s population using the language. Numbers two and three on the list of most spoken languages are Spanish and English, collecting around five percent each. These three languages play a profound role in the economy and social realities of the United States. Consider two examples – Presidential Candidate John Huntsman was actually U.S. Ambassador to China under President Obama over the previous three years, and is fluent in Mandarin, and passable in Cantonese, along with being expert in English. This has helped Huntsman understand Chinese culture and its economic landscape more fully. Secondly, consider the influx of immigrants from Mexico seeking admission into the United States for jobs and economic benefit. Thus, in this day and age, it makes sense to be bilingual rather than monolingual.

While learning another language can be difficult and time consuming, the following list seeks to rank the languages that are currently of the highest immediate benefit to acquire.

1.) Chinese – Aggregating Mandarin, Cantonese and Wu variations on the Chinese tongue, it is estimated that approximately 20 percent (or every fifth world citizen) speaks some form of Chinese. When you factor in the continued importance of China’s economy, and their status as lenders and creditors on the world scene, it’s easy to see why picking up some Chinese would potentially be socially and financially prudent. As an aside, it’s interesting to note that enrollment in Chinese language courses in academia shows no signs of slowing down.

2.) English is called the primary and/or secondary language by over one third of the world’s population. English is recognized as the primary language or de facto primary language in parts of essentially every continent. While English is actually the third most spoken language, behind Chinese and Spanish, its placement is such because it is the most spoken language across the world.

3.) Spanish earns this high ranking because it is readily becoming salient in the United States, with over 30 million currently speaking the language. Spanish is the primary language of around four hundred billion people worldwide, and it is spoken in nearly all Latin American nations. Although Spanish does not have lingual supremacy in Brazil, a hugely ballooning economic world player, it is the primary language in many South American nations that have a great deal of global resonance.

4.) Hindi – Although Hindi is only spoken by a relatively scant four percent of the world’s population, it represents the official language of India. India boasts a population of over one billion citizens, and threatens to take the top spot from China within the century. Due to the astonishing spectrum of languages spoken across India, only a minority of Indians speak Hindi. That said, it may prove crucial to learn Hindi as India becomes a larger economic player on the world scene.

5.) German – considering the scope of the Germanic language in Europe, and the fact that over one million U.S. citizens speak German, it has certainly earned its ranking. German is universally considered a major world language. German currently has common two variations – High German and West Germanic.

6.) Tagalog – Tagalog is spoken by over half the Philippines population as a primary or secondary language. It’s relevance is highlighted by the increase in filipino immigrants to the U.S. Interestingly, there are over one million filipinos currently residing in the United States.

7.) Russian – The most widely spoken of the Slavic languages, Russian is the primary language of two hundred million people worldwide. Russian has primary language status in over a half dozen countries and has a spread across the globe comparable to Spanish.

8.) Italian – Although Italian only commands approximately one hundred million native speakers, its relevance in political, historical, artistic and architectural discussions cannot be overstated.

9.) Japanese – Taking in the span and richness of Japanese culture, it is easy to see how it makes the grade. Around one hundred and thirty million people around the globe speak Japanese. However, Japanese may one of the hardest languages to passably speak in front of indigenous speakers because of its complex rules of pitch and honorifics.

10.) Vietnamese – This language is the native language for over eighty million people worldwide. Vietnamese has become increasingly important to U.S. culture after the influx of Vietnamese citizens following the Vietnam War. Vietnamese is currently spoken by over one million U.S. citizens.

Clearly there are a number of interesting languages to learn. However, if you have trouble deciding on one, picking any from the list above will likely do you well in the future. As the economy becomes more and more global, it is imperative that students and business people alike adapt to the changing times by becoming bi- or multilingual.

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