Learning a Language

John Samuel

NOTE: Article in Progress

There are more than one way to express our thoughts in any human language. Some based on their acquired vocabulary may express it with one single word whereas others may describe their thoughts in multiple sentences. The goal is to express our feelings to others. When we start learning a new language, assuming that we already speak at least one language, the initial days of learning is very difficult: a whole new bunch of words and phrases. Learning becomes significantly difficult when the new language has a different script from the languages that we already know. But can language learning be made simpler? Do we really need to learn multiple languages? What could be the first phrases to learn? This article explores some of these questions.

They say that there are more than one way to express our thoughts and feelings. If we do not have the words, we express them with gestures; we try some or other means including drawing to express ourselves. But what if we are limited to words in a language? What if the only option before us is to speak in a given language? And what if we need to express ourselves in multiple human languages, especially languages from different language families1.

Learning a new language is significantly difficult. When we see children learning a new language (or even their first language), we are surprised with their rapid progress. And as adults, we struggle to learn and retain the vocabulary from the new language, forget for a while the various grammar rules. I often feel confused when it comes to using the right gender for objects and sometimes the right tense in a foreign language. Despite these struggles, I still love language learning.

There is no doubt being bilingual or multilingual or even polyglot has several advantages6,8. Several research studies have shown its positive effect on the brain5. But what is also more important is to be able to preserve our dying tongues7. Languages are endangered and with the extinction of some of them, we have also lost our ability to express feelings, thoughts and ideas in other possible manners than how we usually express them. Hence there are increasingly many efforts to prevent2 the extinction of languages that we know today (the remaining languages). Several efforts of online communities including Wikipedia11,12 are notable in this regard.

how close to the language you know?

language tree?

script? need to learn a new script

tendency to do word by word translation?

sometimes a single word doesn't exist in the other language for an emotion, object or concept, tendency to economize

words with multiple senses

aim: written/oral

various stages: learning some words, identifying words in a speech, comprehension? repeat

five senses (other senses?)

different ways to learn? some common words of life, pronouns, commonly used verbs, adjectives, daily life objects and places of interest

written: punctuation marks (not really global), tense, aspect, gender

read, practice, listen and listen, write

applications? memory tools?

References

  1. Language family
  2. The Sardinian professor fighting to save Gaelic – and all Europe’s minority tongues
  3. Learning a language – 10 things you need to know
  4. Multilingual Web
  5. The benefits of a bilingual brain - Mia Nacamulli
  6. Mandela was right: the Foreign Language Effect
  7. Languages: Why we must save dying tongues
  8. How learning a new language improves tolerance
  9. After the Death of Her Father, a Woman Reconnects with a Language She Hasn't Spoken in Years
  10. What Remains When Your First Language Fades Away
  11. Wikidata project to tackle language barriers in scientific research - Factor
  12. Try Content Translation: A quick way to create new articles from other languages


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