Tuesday, June 13, 2017

30 Day Language Challenge RENEWED (2017 Version)

As an American, I’m embarrassed by our serious inability to speak languages. It’s not our fault that the North American continent is a predominantly English language continent and Europe is a predominantly multi-lingual continent. But I’m embarrassed nonetheless whenever I hear people from a different country forgiving Americans for not understanding their language or stumbling through their customs like a rhino on a rampage. It’s sad that even with a bachelor’s degree in any language, we can hardly make claims to “know” a language other than English. That’s why, based on the teachings and concepts of Barry Farber and A.G. Hawke, I came up with this 30-day language challenge. I don’t think it’s impossible or improbably to assume that given the right motivation and right materials, one could, within 30 days, learn a new language. Obviously, no one can become a “Native” speaker of any language they aren’t a native speaker of, but I believe that within 30 days, any person with a sound mind and clear focus, could learn enough of any language to be beyond the help of any “100-level” or “First Year” college language course. I’m inspired by the amount of language advertisements I’ve seen on the internet these days to take on this challenge myself to prove it.

About Me

I speak Japanese and Korean, though the skills have atrophied in recent years because I haven’t been back to Japan or Korea since 2010. I have tried my hand at Mandarin, Indonesian and Russian. Russian was pretty hard, but I can still remember the basic greetings, “Sto” and a smattering of other vocabulary. Indonesian is worse, but when looking at it, it comes back to me quickly, only to leave quickly again. Mandarin is a bit better, but my tones still suck.

I just finished a Masters of Arts in International Conflict Management and I’m now 32 years old. It’s hard to believe that I came up with this challenge 5 years ago, but hey, time flies. I still agree with my perspective 5 years ago, so I left the intro above. But at 32, engaged, and an Advanced Degree Graduate, I’m a different person. I’m a Freemason and I do believe in charity. So I offer the world my thoughts on learning languages.

THE PROGRAM
The program that I compiled works like this: Follow the rules, study often, overwhelm your brain, and become a speaker in 30 days. It requires a series of materials and a serious effort –no slackers accepted. Here’s what I (you) need for the program to work:
  • Notebook
  • Coursebook in the target language (“Teach yourself Chinese,” etc.)
  • Grammar book for the target language
  • Dictionary for the target language
  • Phrase book for the target language (Both Farber and Hawke recommend Berlitz)
  • Blank 3x5 cards
  • Language CD/MP3’s
  • A Quick Reference sheet
  • Newspaper or Magazine
  • Interactive Computer programs to do instead of computer games
  • Movies and music in the target language
  • Highlighter pens

Rules for learning the language
  1. Never take a day off
  2. Utilize all hidden moments to review 3x5 cards
  3. Set aside at least 30 clear minutes a day to update your 3x5 cards on the language or to read more lesson from your book
  4. Study a few vocabulary words from the previous day each morning when you wake
  5. Study a few vocabulary words from the day before going to sleep each night
  6. Use Harry Lorayne's magic memory aid - Tell a story to remember the words your studying. Ex. In Indonesia, my family all lives in one roomah. (Rumma=Family)
  7. Study words together with opposites, it's easy to remember (hot/cold, etc.)
  8. Pick conversations with other speakers of the language like drunks pick fights (with gusto) 
  9. Use Word-Denial games (Don't let yourself have dessert until you can remember a word, etc.)
  10. Don't study profanity, but do study idiomatic phrases
  11. Keep it simple at first, don't try to outpace yourself by knowing words like "megalomaniac."
  12. Try to find a community within your town that speaks the target language natively (or close) and find reasons to hang out with them (go to their restaurant, etc.)
  13. Choose to listen to the target language music instead of your own when listening to music. Better yet, choose to listen and interact with the language audio instead of music
  14. Remember to interact with language audio, none of them work without interaction
  15. Watch Target Language movies instead of American films when watching movies
  16. For the first 30 days, live, breath, and eat your target language


So, for the next 30 days, I’m going to blog a day at a time, just to show the progress someone who doesn’t know a language would go through. Check back daily to see the progress.

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