Saturday, April 11, 2009
Practice, practice, practice!
A language is what I call a three-sense entity: you need to engage your eyes, your ears, and your mouth to learn a language, because you need to speak it, listen to it, and read it (writing it comes later).
A book is one-sense medium: you read it. You can't tell how those words are pronounced, and you can't pronounce it. You can guess, but your guesses may be wrong.
Audiobooks are slightly better. You don't read it, but you listen to it, and in turn you can try to repeat the words, thus learning proper pronunciation.
Combine the two, and you'll get a much better learning experience.
But don't overlook practice. Find some friends who will help you correct your English. Best way is to barter a language... you teach him/her your language (probably Mandarin Chinese, while he or she teaches you English).
Part of the time should just be listening to you read a random passage from a book or newspaper or magazine. Why? It builds your confidence, vocabulary, and reading skills. Any of the corrections s/he gives on the spot will help you learn from your mistakes (like that "rap music" mistake above... unless you have heard it said before, how would you know you're doing it right?)
You pretty much have to IMMERSE yourself in the language for weeks and months. Don't bother with shortcuts like Rosetta Stone (tm) and such. There are no shortcuts to learning a language, except hard work.