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5 Awful Instructions to Ignore When Learning a Language

5 Awful Instructions to Ignore When Learning a Language

Getting the right advice when you’re learning something new can transform your learning process. But getting the wrong advice and mistakenly following it can undo that process very quickly.

So how do you distinguish the great advice from the awful? We’ll be honest, it’s difficult. Some of the worst advice out there about language learning can appear useful for the beginners or those without any previous experience learning.

This is why we’ve curated the top 5 awful advice for you to ignore (and run from).

1. “You’re too old” to learn a language

Despite what conventional society tells us, how ‘old’ we are shouldn’t affect our ability to reach fluency in a language. We’re not saying that a 50-year-old person can learn as fast as someone who’s 5 years old, but it’s more than possible.

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In fact, a study done by Hakuta, Bialystok and Wiley compared the language learning abilities in adults of different ages. Each participant was taught the same words in the same learning environment. The results showed that people over 50 learn just as well as people in their 20’s or 30’s.

2. You need to travel to a foreign country

With the advent of technology today, there’s no reason for anyone to travel to a foreign country to learn a language. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a plane ticket and finding accommodation, you can find amazing teachers where you are.

From my experiences traveling, I’ve seen many people that assumed living in a foreign country will guarantee their ability to learn. Because of this, they didn’t make much of an effort, and by the time they had to come back home, it was too late.

The key is motivation, not just environment.

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3. Just use free mobile apps!

There are plenty of free mobile apps out there that can help you practice your vocabulary and grammar. But there’s only so much that these apps can help you with.

Duolingo is probably the first tool you think of, but the following is the response from some customers at Rype:

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        The point we’re trying to make is not that you shouldn’t use these free language apps to learn, but you shouldn’t rely on it being your sole method of learning. It’s like trying to get in the best shape of your life by relying on a fitness application on your phone, there’s more to it!

        4. Focus on using just one method to learn a language

        Focus is certainly important, but as we shared before, relying on one method is not the way to go. There’s a method you want to use for developing your writing skills, another method for speaking, and so forth.

        You should also find different ways to activate your brain. The purpose of learning a language for most people is to communicate with others, and that’s how we should be learning how to speak it. You can do this via language meetups, finding accountability partners, or working with a private language teacher online (especially if you’re busy).

        5. You can learn conversation in the classroom

        Last but not least, the advice on how to become a better speaker in a foreign language.

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        Tim Ferriss, who’s a polyglot and bestselling author, says:

        “Somewhat like riding a bike, though unfortunately not as permanent, language fluency is more dependent on practicing the right things than learning the right things. The rules (grammar) can be learned through materials and classes, but the necessary tools (vocabulary and idiomatic usage) will come from independent study and practice in a native environment.”

        His point was that there’s nothing that can replace practicing with a real human being to improve your communication skills. That’s how we learned our first language, and it’s still the best way to learn the second.

        More by this author

        Sean Kim

        Sean is the founder and CEO of Rype, a language learning app. He's an entrepreneur and blogger.

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        Last Updated on November 5, 2019

        How to Memorize a Speech the Smart Way

        How to Memorize a Speech the Smart Way

        Did you know that 75% of the population suffers from glossophobia? That scary sounding word is one of the most common phobia’s in the world, fear of public speaking.

        I’ll bet even as you are reading this, you are getting nervous thinking about giving a speech.

        I have got good news for you. In this article, I will share with you a step by step method on how to memorize a speech the smart way. Once you have this method down, your confidence in yourself to deliver a successful speech will increase substantially. Read on to feel well prepared the next time you have to memorize and deliver a speech.

        Common Mistakes of Memorizing a Speech

        Before we get to the actual process of how to memorize a speech the smart way, let’s look at the two most common mistakes many of us tend to make while preparing for a speech.

        Complete Memorization

        In an attempt to ensure they remember every detail, many people aim to completely memorize their speech. They practice it over and over until they have every single word burned into their brain.

        In many ways, this is understandable because most of us are naturally frightened of having to give a speech. When the time comes, we want to be completely and totally prepared and not make any mistakes.

        While this makes a lot of sense, it also comes with its own negative side. The downside to having your speech memorized word for word is that you sound like a robot when delivering the speech. You become so focused on remembering every single part that you lose the ability to inflect your speech to varying degrees, and free form the talk a bit when the situation warrants.

        Lack of Preparation

        The other side of the coin to complete memorization is people who don’t prepare enough. Because they don’t want to come off sounding like a robot, they decide they will mostly “wing it”.

        Sometimes they will write a few main points down on a piece of paper to remind themselves. They figure once they get going, the details will somehow fill themselves in under the big talking points while they are doing the talking.

        The problem is that unless this is a topic you know inside and out and have spoken on it many times, you’ll wind up missing key points. It’s almost a given that as soon as you are done with your speech, you’ll remember many things you should have brought up while talking.

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        There’s a good balance to be had between over and under preparing. Let’s now look at how to memorize a speech the smart way.

        How to Memorize a Speech (Step-by-Step Guide)

        1. Write Out Your Speech

        The first step in the process is to simply write out your speech.

        Many people like to write out the entire speech. Other people are more inclined to write their speech outline style. Whichever way your brain works best is the way you should write your speech.

        Personally, I like to break things down into the primary points I want to make, and then back up each major point with several details. Because my mind works this way, I tend to write out speeches, and articles for that matter, by doing an outline.

        Once I have the outline completed, I will then fill in several bullet points to back up each big topic.

        For instance, if I was going to give a speech on how to get in better shape my outline would look something like this:

        Benefits of being in shape

        • Point #1
        • Point #2
        • Point #3

        Exercise

        • Point #1
        • Point #2
        • Point #3

        Diet

        • Point #1
        • Point #2
        • Point #3

        Rest and hydration

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        • Point #1
        • Point #2
        • Point #3

        ConclusionNo need for points here, just a few sentences wrapping things up.

        As you might imagine, this step typically is the hardest because it’s not only the first step but it also involves the initial creation of the speech.

        2. Rehearse Your Speech

        Now that you’ve written your speech, or outline, it’s time to start saying it out loud. It’s completely fine to simply read what you’ve written line by line at this point. What you are working on doing is getting the outline and getting a feel for the speech.

        If you’ve written the entire speech out, you’ll be editing it while you are rehearsing it. Many times as we say things out loud, we realize that what we wrote needs to be changed and altered. This is how we work towards having a well rounded and smooth speech. Feel free to change things as needed while you are rehearsing your speech.

        If you are like me and you’ve written the outline, this is where some of the supporting bullet points will begin to come out. Normally, I will have written several bullet points under each main topic. But as I say it out loud, I will begin to fill in more and more details. I might scratch certain bullet points and add others. I might think of something new at this stage while I am listening to myself and want to add it.

        The key to remember here is that you laying the foundation for your awesome speech. At this point, it’s a work in progress, you are getting the key pieces in place.

        3. Memorize the Bigger Parts

        As you are rehearsing your speech, you want to focus on memorizing the bigger parts, or the main points.

        Going back to my example of how to get in better shape, I’d want to ensure I have memorized my primary points. These include the benefits of being in shape, exercise, diet, rest and hydration, and the conclusion. These are the main points I want to make and I will then fill in further details. I’ve got to ensure I know these very well first and foremost.

        By practicing your major points, you are building the framework for your speech. After you have this solid outline in place, you’ll continue by adding in the details to round things out.

        4. Fill In the Details

        Now that you have the big chunks memorized, it’s time to work on memorizing the details. These detail points will provide support and context for your major points. You can work on this all at once or break it down to the details that support each major point.

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        For example, the details I might have under the “exercise” big point might include such things as cardio, weights, how many times a week to exercise, how long to actually exercise, and several examples of actual exercises. In this example, I have 5 detail points to memorize to support my major point of “exercise”.

        It’s a good idea to test yourself regularly as you are rehearsing your speech. Ask yourself:

        What are the 5 detail points I want to talk about that support my 3rd main point?

        You need to be able to fire those off quickly. Until you can do this, you won’t be able to associate each of the details with the main point.

        You have to be able to have them grouped together in your mind so that it comes out naturally in your speech. So that when you think of main point #2, you automatically think of the 4 supporting details associated with it.

        Keep working at this stage until you can run through your speech completely several times and remember all of your big points and the supporting details.

        Once you can do that with relative ease, it will be time for the final step, working on your delivery.

        5. Work on Your Delivery

        You’ve got the bulk of the work done now. You’ve written your speech and rehearsed enough times to have not only your main points memorized but also your supporting details. In short, you should have your speech almost done.

        There’s one more step in how to memorize a speech the smart way. The final component is to work on how you deliver your speech.

        For the most part, you can go give your speech now. After all, you have it memorized. If you want to ensure you do it right, you’ll want to hone how you are delivering your speech.

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        You work on your delivery by rehearsing and running through it a number of times and making tweaks along the way. These tweaks or changes may be are’s where you’d want to pause for effect.

        If you’ve found you have used one word 5 times in one paragraph, you might want to swap it out for a similar word a few times to keep it fresh.

        Sometimes while working on this part, I’ve thought of a great story that’s happened to me that I can incorporate to make my point even better.

        When you work on your delivery, you are basically giving your speech a personality as well.

        The Bottom Line

        And there you have it, a step by step approach on how to memorize a speech the smart way.

        The next time you are asked to give a speech don’t let glossophobia rear its familiar head. Instead, remember this easy to use guide to help craft a powerful speech.

        Using the method shown here will help you deliver your next speech with increased confidence.

        More About Public Speaking

        Featured photo credit: Anna Sullivan via unsplash.com

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