Quora: What works the best when learning a new language?

Question on @Quora: What works the best when learning a new language?


Learning a language is a life-long journey. The founding father of Singapore, the late LKY, was still learning his last Chinese lesson the night before admitting to hospital in February 2015. He passed away on 23 March at age 91. Like Bill Gates, both of them have only ONE regret in life – mastering Chinese language !

One can never claim to be an expert even in his mother tongue.

Below is my own learning journey with 5 languages – 3 spoken & written (Chinese as mother tongue, English as 2nd language in secondary & high schools, French in university), 2 at only elementary level (Japanese and Korean):

1. Chinese: as a child we learn how to speak before how to write Chinese characters. This is also the helpful tip for foreigners who want to learn Chinese, without being discouraged by the ‘non-alphabetical’ Chinese characters.

2. Learn languages in grouping (not concurrently) to take advantage of similarity. 举一反三!
♡ English & French: 60% common Latin root;
♡Japanese & Korean: 50% ~ 70% common Chinese root and ‘Altaic’ (Turkish /Mongolian) grammar:
Subject-Object-Verb: eg. I apple eat;
Subject & Object particles 助词 : Jap: “か, は”, Korean: “가/이, 읃/듣, 을/를”

3. Learn another language to know better your own language — this was once observed by the German philosopher Goethe (歌德).


♡ With French you know better ‘advanced’ English vocabularies : cuisine (hors d’oeuvre, a-la-carte, boeuf => beef, porc => pork, mouton => mutton, …), military (réveiller, camouflage, rendez-vous… ), politics (anarchy, bureaucratic, coup d’état, …), fashion (haute couture, …), life (savoir vivre, raison d’être, laissez-faire), cul-de-sac, en bloc, …

♡ With Japanese we know modern Chinese vocabularies: 经济, 新闻, 人权, 企业, 义务, 学位, 场合, 美学, 社会, 人为, 讲义, …

♡ With Korean we know better ancient Chinese pronunciation (音韵学) in 7th century (Tang dynasty 中古汉音 : 唐宋以后), as still spoken today in southern China (Fujian/Taiwan, Cantonese, Teochew).



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