How NOT to Learn a Foreign Language
There are thousands of language programs out there that all boil down to this:
- Learn a bunch of words
- Learn a bunch of grammar rules
- Try to make a bunch of sentences with the words and grammar you know
Sounds like a solid plan, right? This is how we learn many other academic subjects – memorizing concepts and rules. So why should learning a language be any different?
Rule #1: Learning a language is NOT like learning an academic subject.
This is because subjects such as History and Biology are about memorizing and organizing concepts in your head.
But langauge is about communication, connection and self expression. It involves complex motor and cognitive skills.
In other words, picking up a book and “reading” some stuff about language will NEVER cut it.
Language is About Sound
Consider this simple fact: Language is a way of communicating meaning through sound. Here are the basic steps to it:
- The speaker has a thought..
- The speaker encodes that thought into a series of muscle movements in her speech organ..
- These movements disturb the air particles to create sound waves..
- The sound waves vibrate the ear drums of the listener..
- The listener decodes these ear drum vibrations back into the speaker’s original thought..
The two things at play here are sound and meaning.
The meaning transmits through series of sounds. Both the speaker and listener implicitly agree on the meaning of these sets of sounds. In other words, they are speaking the same language.
What’s important to note here is that the sounds are the actual physical reality of language.
We have to move specific parts of our speech organ to vibrate the air particles at specific frequencies. Then, a person extracts meaning completely in his or her own head. I’ll repeat:
- Language is just a set of conventions for communicating meaning through sound.
- Sound always comes before meaning.
This is where most language learners and educators mess up.
As adults, we obsess over the meaning of things. So when we want to study a foreign language, we’re always anxious to know “what things mean.”
But since meaning is always based on sound, you cannot really know “what things mean” until you learn “how things sound.”
Flow Theory 101
To master a foreign language, you will need to first master its sounds.
As you might know, the study of speech-sound is called phonetics. But the problem is that phoneticists are rarely good language learners.
It’s like comparing a music theorist to a jazz saxophonist.
It’s not enough to just know the theory behind language, you’ve got to practice and feel The Flow.
That’s why I decided to develop my own discipline – Flow Theory.
In Flow Theory, we don’t just study speech sounds. We learn how to train our ears and mouths to master the sounds of any language.
So the goal of this mini-course is to equip you with the basic tools to do just that.
It may surprise you that the first place to start with learning any language is NOT inside of a textbook. It starts with rhythm..