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How To Learn Any Language

Back in the summer of 1990, I was capping off my undergrad second major in German with some advanced Deutsch classes at the Monetery Institute of International Studies in California. (My Chinese studies were still a few years away yet.)

The entire campus was filled that summer with people studying various languages…but I actually came to secretly despise the advanced French group in the room next door. See, every Thursday afternoon was “movie time.” We’d all watch movies (without sub-titles) in our languages of study, and when my class finished our Angst-ridden German films, we’d mope out of our classroom, depressed and brooding, ready to numb ourselves to the horrors of life with ein paar Bier.

But the advanced French students, they’d come out of their films all passionate and lusty, savoring life, probably heading off to some chateau for champagne and amor.

I hated that contrast–I mean, Quick, name one major hot German cinematic love story!–and felt those folks, even though both groups were studying foreign languages, had nothing in common with us. (How could they, blind to the darkness and meaninglessness of our mere existence as they were?) Needless to say, we never fraternized with them.

Fortunately, Francois Micheloud isn’t as closed-minded about learners of other languages as I pretended to be that summer.

At his site, Francois has provided information and a discussion forum for people interested in learning a language. Yes, any language. Even Chinese. The site includes some general information regarding language learning principles (though some pages in the FAQ look to still be “in progress”), and the forum on the site is quite active: Over 1300 registered members, and quite a few topic areas that should interest anyone who is studying, or preparing to study, a foreign language–especially if you expect to be doing it “on your own.”

It’s good to cooperate with others learning the same language as you, of course, but an underlying premise of is that good language learning principles apply to and are worth sharing with other students of any language. That’s easy to forget this when we’re wrestling with Mandarin’s tones or trying to remember the proper measure word for some object, isn’t it.

So check it out:–there are some Chinese-specific topic areas too–and keep your eyes and ears open for some great principles you can apply to your Chinese language studies.

Yes, even if one or two happen to come from those lovestruck students of French. ;-)

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