Everybody’s done it. You wake up one morning and decide, “I’m going to learn a new language.” But, as daunting as it may seem, learning a new language isn’t the herculean feat it’s cracked up to be.
Language learning isn’t all about drills, and grammar isn’t actually that boring. Once you get out of the classroom and start using your skills in the real world, it will come a lot easier. The key is to not be afraid of making mistakes or sounding silly.
Below, 5 TEDx talks to help you understand how we learn languages and tips to get you on your way to fluency in whatever you study, whether that’s Arabic or Zulu.
Hacking language learning: Benny Lewis at TEDxWarsaw
At TEDxWarsaw, polyglot extraordinaire Benny Lewis explains that it is never too late to learn a language, learning 9 languages from the age of 21 to prove his point. He propones just going out and speaking the language. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, that’s how you learn.
Hacking language learning: Dr. Conor Quinn at TEDxDirigo
Though it is notoriously hard to keep track of the amount of living languages in the world, it has been estimated that half of the languages spoken today will have died out by the end of the century. At TEDxDirigo, Conor Quinn presents the case that language death can be avoided if it were easier to learn languages and provides you with some tips to help do just that.
Learn Esperanto first: Tim Morley at TEDxGranta
Though it might have no native speakers, learning the international auxiliary language Esperanto is not a worthless pursuit. At TEDxGranta, language teacher Tom Morley explains the benefits of learning this constructed language, citing studies that show that students who learn Esperanto at a young age will pick up other languages more easily.
Tech for the deaf: how to search for words in sign language: Junto Ohki at TEDxTokyo
Ever wonder how to look up a word in sign language? What about in Japanese sign language? At TEDxTokyo, Junto Ohki showcases Slinto, the world’s first sign language keyboard, coupled with the first signing to spoken language dictionary — a new technology that bridges the gap between sign languages and spoken languages around the world.
The linguistic genius of adults: Deborah Fallows at TEDxMidwest
Learning a new language, let alone one as difficult as Mandarin, can be a daunting prospect, but at TEDxMidwest, Deborah Fallows demystifies common misconceptions about second language acquisition, and shares some amusing “Chinglish” signs in the process.