3 Critical Insights for Any Learner of Languages from Tim Ferriss
Tim Ferriss became a household name after publishing The Four-Hour Work Week. Like many others, I was certainly intrigued by the title and read the book in search of a life with more fun and relaxation, less stress, and less work. I can’t say that the book got me any closer to that, but I certainly learned some valuable insights.
One unexpected perk of the book was the great insights Tim has for anyone wanting to learn a language. Learning that Ferriss worked for language powerhouse Berlitz and has an East Asian studies degree from Princeton certainly lends credibility in my eyes. Here are three insights that can help anyone start communicating in a new language fast.
- “A person’s success in life can be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”
Tim Ferriss once shared this on Twitter. I imagine the original intent of this message was more geared to things like having conversations with a partner to work through relationship problems, asking for a raise at work, or talking to a therapist to heal from trauma.
Until you become highly proficient, you’re going to have difficult conversations. They’re all going to be difficult, but you’ll never get to the easy part if you aren’t willing to engage in those difficult conversations. Being able to talk to people and work through the difficulties is the key to success in languages.
Ferriss became famous from writing a bestselling book. As an Ivy league graduate, he has read thousands of books. However, some of his best advice for language learners is research-based. Whether Ferriss was aware of this or not, he once described his skills in Japanese having grown immensely from a “nasty manga habit” as an exchange student in high school in Tokyo.
Dr. Stephen Krashen, a leading researcher in second language acquisition, did a study of two hyperpolyglots. These people speak more than 10 languages each. One subject of the study was Lomb Kato, a man who had never lived outside his native Budapest. He cited his confidence in language to doing all of his pleasure reading in different languages.
When you can read, you can learn anything. This goes for languages as well. You don’t have to read the books assigned by professors at an Ivy league institution. read for pleasure, read things you enjoy. Read manga, read comics, read cookbooks. You get it. It is the best way to learn a language anywhere.
Stuart Brown, a leading researcher on play, talks extensively about how important play is for our happiness, our development, and our learning. While taking time out on a language app doesn’t fit into that classic definition, it certainly rings true. Games are fun. When you have fun, you will spend more time doing something. Tim Ferriss must have known this somehow, as he was an early investor in Duolingo. The app provides rewarding, fun, free language learning.
I would never recommend doing one app over and over again to learn a foreign language. After all, you didn’t learn your first language that way. People talked to you, people read to you, you went to school, you may have had some type of worship in your life. Think music, playgroups, art classes, movies. The language had meaning, and you were active and engaged. With that said, Duolingo is getting better and better. Some of the more spoken languages have podcasts, stories, chatbots, features that are always growing.
Doing 10 to 20 minutes a day in a new language that can be easily accessed through apps and books adds up over time. Spend time having difficult conversations, reading, and having fun with languages.
More an Dr. Krashen https://www.sk.com.br/sk-krash-english.html
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