How to Learn Any Language in 3 Months

The Okano Isao judo textbook I used to learn Japanese grammar.

Post reading time: 15 minutes.

Language learning need not be complicated.

Principles of cognitive neuroscience and time management can be applied to attain conversational fluency (here defined as 95%+ comprehension and 100% expressive abilities) in 1-3 months. Some background on my language obsession, from an earlier post on learning outside of classes:

From the academic environments of Princeton University (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Italian) and the Middlebury Language Schools (Japanese), to the disappointing results observed as a curriculum designer at Berlitz International (Japanese, English), I have sought for more than 10 years to answer a simple question: why do most language classes simply not work?

The ideal system — and progression — is based on three elements in this order…

1. Effectiveness (Priority)

2. Adherence (Interest)

3. Efficiency (Process)

Effectiveness, adherence, and efficiency refer to the “what”, “why”, and “how” of learning a target language, respectively. In simple terms, you first decide what to learn, based on usage frequency (priority); you then filter materials based on your likelihood of continued study and review, or adherence (interest); lastly, you determine how to learn the material most efficiently (process).

Let’s cover each in turn. This post will focus on vocabulary and subject matter. For learning grammar, I suggest you read this short article. For “reactivating” forgotten languages — like high school Spanish — this sequence will do the trick.

Effectiveness: If you select the wrong material, it does not matter how you study or if you study – practical fluency is impossible without the proper tools (material). Teachers are subordinate to materials, just as cooks are subordinate to recipes.

Adherence: Review, and multiple exposures to the same material, will always present an element of monotony, which must be countered by an interest in the material. Even if you select the most effective material and efficient method, if you don’t adhere with repeated study, effectiveness and efficiency mean nothing. In other words: can you persist with the material and method you’ve chosen? If not, less effective materials or methods will still be better. The best approach means nothing if you don’t use it.

By analogy, if sprinting uphill with bowling balls in each hand were the most effective way to lose body fat, how long would the average person adhere to such a program?

If you have no interest in politics, will you adhere to a language course that focuses on this material? Ask yourself: Can I study this material every day and adhere until I reach my fluency goals? If you have any doubt, change your selection. Oftentimes, it is best to select content that matches your interests in your native language. Do not read about something that you would not read about in English, if English is your native language (e.g. don’t read Asahi Shimbun if you don’t read newspapers in English). Use the target language as a vehicle for learning more about a subject, skill, or cultural area of interest.

Do not use material incongruent with your interests as a vehicle for learning a language – it will not work.

Efficiency: It matters little if you have the best material and adherence if time-to-fluency is 20 years. The ROI won’t compel you. Ask yourself: Will this method allow me to reach accurate recognition and recall with the fewest number of exposures, within the shortest period of time? If the answer is no, your method must be refined or replaced.

An Example of Effectiveness (80/20) in Practice

Pareto’s Principle of 80/20 dictates that 80% of the results in any endeavor come from 20% of the input, material, or effort.

We can adapt this principle and prioritize material based on its recorded likelihood and frequency of usage. To understand 95% of a language and become conversational fluent may require 3 months of applied learning; to reach the 98% threshold could require 10 years. There is a point of diminishing returns where, for most people, it makes more sense to acquire more languages (or other skills) vs. add a 1% improvement per 5 years.

To see exactly how I deconstruct the grammar of new languages, I suggest you read “How to Learn (But Not Master) Any Language in 1 Hour”. Now, on to the meat and potatoes of communication: words.

If you were a student of English (though the list can be adapted to most languages), the following words would deliver the greatest ROI per hour invested for the initial 1-3 weeks of study:

The 100 Most Common Written Words in English

  1. the
  2. of
  3. and
  4. a
  5. to
  6. in
  7. is
  8. you
  9. that
  10. it
  11. he
  12. was
  13. for
  14. on
  15. are
  16. as
  17. with
  18. his
  19. they
  20. I
  21. at
  22. be
  23. this
  24. have
  25. from
  26. or
  27. one
  28. had
  29. by
  30. word
  31. but
  32. not
  33. what
  34. all
  35. were
  36. we
  37. when
  38. your
  39. can
  40. said
  41. there
  42. use
  43. an
  44. each
  45. which
  46. she
  47. do
  48. how
  49. their
  50. if
  51. will
  52. up
  53. other
  54. about
  55. out
  56. many
  57. then
  58. them
  59. these
  60. so
  61. some
  62. her
  63. would
  64. make
  65. like
  66. him
  67. into
  68. time
  69. has
  70. look
  71. two
  72. more
  73. write
  74. go
  75. see
  76. number
  77. no
  78. way
  79. could
  80. people
  81. my
  82. than
  83. first
  84. water
  85. been
  86. call
  87. who
  88. oil
  89. its
  90. now
  91. find
  92. long
  93. down
  94. day
  95. did
  96. get
  97. come
  98. made
  99. may
  100. part

The first 25 of the above words make up about 1/3 of all printed material in English. The first 100 comprise 1/2 of all written material, and the first 300 make up about 65% percent of all written material in English. Articles and tense conjugations that can often be omitted in some languages or learned for recognition (understanding) but not recall (production).

Most frequency lists are erroneously presented as the “most common words” in English, with no distinction made between written and spoken vocabulary. The 100 most common words as used in speech are considerably different, and this distinction applies to any target language.

The 100 Most Common Spoken Words in English

  1. a, an
  2. after
  3. again
  4. all
  5. almost
  6. also
  7. always
  8. and
  9. because
  10. before
  11. big
  12. but
  13. (I) can
  14. (I) come
  15. either/or
  16. (I) find
  17. first
  18. for
  19. friend
  20. from
  21. (I) go
  22. good
  23. goodbye
  24. happy
  25. (I) have
  26. he
  27. hello
  28. here
  29. how
  30. I
  31. (I) am
  32. if
  33. in
  34. (I) know
  35. last
  36. (I) like
  37. little
  38. (I) love
  39. (I) make
  40. many
  41. one
  42. more
  43. most
  44. much
  45. my
  46. new
  47. no
  48. not
  49. now
  50. of
  51. often
  52. on
  53. one
  54. only
  55. or
  56. other
  57. our
  58. out
  59. over
  60. people
  61. place
  62. please
  63. same
  64. (I) see
  65. she
  66. so
  67. some
  68. sometimes
  69. still
  70. such
  71. (I) tell
  72. thank you
  73. that
  74. the
  75. their
  76. them
  77. then
  78. there is
  79. they
  80. thing
  81. (I) think
  82. this
  83. time
  84. to
  85. under
  86. up
  87. us
  88. (I) use
  89. very
  90. we
  91. what
  92. when
  93. where
  94. which
  95. who
  96. why
  97. with
  98. yes
  99. you
  100. your

Individual word frequency will vary between languages (especially pronouns, articles, and possessives), but differences are generally related to frequency rank, rather than complete omission or replacement with a different term. The above two lists are surprisingly applicable to most popular languages.

Content and vocabulary selection beyond the most common 300-500 words should be dictated by subject matter interest. The most pertinent questions will be “What will you spend your time doing with this language?”

If necessary, the most closely related rephrasing would be “What do I currently spend my time doing?” It bears repeating: do not read about something that you would not read about in your native language. Use the target language as a vehicle for learning more about a subject, skill, or cultural area of interest. Poor material never produces good language.

Feed your language ability foods you like, or you will quit your “diet” and cease study long before you achieve any measurable level of proficiency.

As a personal example, I used martial arts instructional manuals to compete effectively in judo while a student in Japan. My primary goal was to learn throws and apply them in tournaments. To avoid pain and embarrassment, I had tremendous motivation to learn the captions of the step-by-step diagrams in each instructional manual. Language development was a far secondary priority.

One might assume the crossover of material to other subjects would be minimal, but the grammar is, in fact, identical. The vocabulary may be highly specialized, but I eclipsed the grammatical ability of 4 and 5-year students of Japanese within 2 months of studying and applying sports-specific instruction manuals.

The specialization of my vocabulary didn’t present a single problem in communication, it is important to note, as I was spending 80% of my free time training with people who also used judo-speak and other vocabulary unique to sports training and athletic development.

Once the framework of grammar has been transferred to long-term memory, acquiring vocabulary is a simple process of proper spaced repetition, which will be the subject of a dedicated future post.

In the meantime, don’t let languages scare you off. It’s a checklist and a process of finding material you enjoy with a good frequency ROI.

Ganbare!

###

Odds and Ends: Giveaway and USC Video

I’ll be giving away some very cool stuff this week on Twitter (electronics, my favorite bags, etc.). Just click here and follow me to see the goodies.

The Cisco-sponsored video about my house by the USC team is in the final 24 hours of competition and needs a few more views to win. Unfortunately, none of the embed views counted last time due to bad code. Please click here and wait a few seconds to help these kids get their big break!

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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548 Replies to “How to Learn Any Language in 3 Months”

  1. Know something there is another method called Pimsleur Approach that makes it possible to learn to speak a foreign language in 10 days! According to them, you can engage in simple everyday conversation after listening to the basic course.

    1. I have been using Pimsleur to learn Ukrainian. And for a packaged program I think it works with my brain a lot better than the other methods I’m trying. The things I’ve learned come back to me when I have a real conversation, but I’m still frustrated at the speed of learning and the fact that the content lacks to much of what I want to talk about. I’m beginning to feel pretty isolated here in Ukraine. So I am going to have my friend who is tutoring me start teaching me how she paints – we are both artists but work in different media. I also have a friend willing to talk with me, and she is an amazing cook. Fun!

  2. Man, I’ve gone through this post several times over the past year or so. This really nails it. Break down the language, 80/20 the vocab by starting with the most commonly used words first, then talk to people! Priceless post; this has made a huge impact on my life!

  3. I like how that breaks the % of word use – very valuable to know. I’m moving to Mexico from the US in a couple weeks (thanks to my muse) and I plan on being perfectly conversational within 90 days. Full cultural immersion!! Spansh first and then… who knows?

  4. Thanks Tim. As a table tennis player and coach I’ve set myself the goal of learning Mandarin as there is so much great table tennis information available in the language that is untapped in the UK/Europe. I will try and find some table tennis material to learn from.

  5. Hi Tim,

    Fantastic stuff..love it! Can this technique b used to learn Serbian. And do u have a list of the languages it Can b used for n the languages it can’t?

    Thanks

    Yivan 🙂

  6. Hi Tim,

    Great article love the technique, thank you so much for sharing it.

    I’ve bee trying to learn the Serbian language out of a book for the past 6 months….the results have not been great at all. I was seriously going to hire a native tutor next week as I am determined and committed to learning the language. Then I came across your article. I going to hold off as I would love to try this technique out on the Serbian language.

    Do you have a translation of the list of words and sentences in Serbian?

    Thanks

    Yivan 🙂

  7. I read this and was very excited to put it into practice – I’d really like to learn Japanese. I was telling my fiance about the article when I realized that I had learned fluent Portuguese (and a great understanding of Spanish, but I had a greater interest in learning Portuguese) in 3-4 months while living in Germany when I was 16. I used this exact method. I sat in class and would write simple things for my Brazilian and Mexican friends to translate: I, you, she, want, like, etc. Then I had them write simple sentences and I figured out on my own how to use these to form more sentences. After that, it was just a matter of putting it into practice with chatting online and listening to Brazilians talking to each other.

    I had learned French to a written fluency in 2 years (before learning Portuguese), learned German in 6 months (all while living there with a German family), but Portuguese was, by far, the most successful case of my language learning. Now I know why!

    Thank you for posting this, I have a renewed hope in myself to learn another language!

  8. hey, this is really cool and kinda gets to me cause I want to master japanese, and also want to learn mandarin and korean.

    i’m gonna get back into studying and I’ll apply this to it, thanks!

  9. Really liked the post and found it more helpful than most of my Mandarin classes in college. That said, do you have a favorite website for skype chatting with native speaks in foreign countries?

  10. More content!!! Awesome stuff however would love to see some language specific content or links to it that follows your approach. Would love to help to build content.

  11. Hey Tim, I like what is written and I have read the 4Hour Chef (I was more interested in the language learning part) but it’s still a little vague to me as to how you used the Judo textbook for grammar.

    I know the interest in material played a part, but how? I think I remember an interview where you said you used comic books (manga), an electronic dictionary and the Judo textbook. Was the electronic dictionary for translating anything? Or was the method similar to the polyglot Kato Lomb, where just by reading, she eventually began to understand the material?

    I’m trying to Spanish and would like to implement alot of your methods but this part is just too vague for me. For you to became decent in Spanish in 8 weeks? I just feel like there is more to your language learning method.

    Possible 4HourLanguage???

  12. You’re right on about learning a language.

    We teach how to read efficiently. In half-day workshops, you end up reading better and faster with improved comprehension, retention and recall.

  13. Very interesting post. I like that idea that it doesn’t have to take years to learn a language. When I learn a language, I don’t learn list of most common vocabularie. But what I do is similar. I read news, watch movies and series, read forums, talk to people, and only learn words that I hear a few times. If a word is only said once, I consider it not useful enough to learn now.

    That method is like building a pyramide. You start with the basic, the vocabulary that is used 80% of the time, then you learn the less useful vocabulary. How high the pyramid ends up depends on how well you want to speak the language.

  14. Hello all –

    Let’s say I wanted to peace out for three months in Peru or Ecuador and become fluent in Spanish in three months. How would I begin my research on where to go and who to hire? (I’d prefer to hire someone to teach me one-on-one, and simply want to immerse myself in the experience.)

    Gracias,

    Adam

    1. u have to be surrounded by native people preferable a family with kids and tell them to talk to like u understand.

      Give yourself 3 weeks, you will be shocked, do not use or speak on your mother language and don’t be shy to make mistakes.

      Join the circus for 3 months, that’s what i did 🙂

  15. I have learned the English language in the same way, on the streets of Britain.

    I am associating/linking words and phrases to emotions and adherence.

    It makes you feel like you have reborn again because you learn everything from scratch from other people, not from a books will set back you step 1 🙂

    Really is so much fun 🙂

  16. Your analysis is perfect on the exact “how to” when it comes to learning a language. This method removes the overwhelming aspect of learning. Thanks for this post.

  17. Thanks for all the language learning tips – I’m really going to need them! Because I also learned that my language will be slow and difficult to learn, for an English speaker. But here I am living in Ukraine, and Ukraine has almost all the factors that will slow down my progress: both vowel and consonant sounds that don’t exist in English, consonant grouping that we don’t use, cases that change the nouns – for example articles are incorporated into noun changes and the endings indicate whether a word is the object or subject in a sentence, words also have gender.

    I should have fun though because I am going to have my friends how to teach me to cook Ukrainian style, to paint in a style I’ve been wanting to learn for years, and how to chat with little children. Thanks!

  18. I am interestedto learn in German language. Is ti possible? Can u me me any certificate? is It fee of cast? let me know.

  19. Greetings from Los angeles! I’m bored to death at work so

    I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break.

    I enjoy the information you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.

    I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my phone ..

    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, great blog!

  20. Hi Tim. Really great information so far (as it’s already helped with my redesign – body first…) … but I have a particular question… In particular, as your approach applies to language learning, it seems fair to say that “you’re only as good as your material”, so – let’s say I want to learn German – how do you find or create the properly distilled material? It’s one thing to say – “if you learn most common words”… but how do you find out which to study? (or am I missing something?). Thanks again! Fantastic job.

  21. Hi Tim,

    Excellent post, though I think the 100 most common spoken word list is arranged alphabetically, rather than frequency wise. Could you please check if it is the correct list?

    Thanks and Regards,

    Jimmy

  22. Thank you Tim. The article which completely changed my life. Using methods described in the articles I become fluent in English, quit a dead-end job and have been traveling for almost two years, met tons of incredible people and even started a blog about learning languages in Russian http://ilingo.ru/. Hope some day have you for an interview!

  23. Hey Tim,

    I know you might not get to read this anytime soon, but maybe down the line I hope you do. I, like many others, have been grateful to find something that been more intellectually stimulating than guessing answers on Jeopardy and finding out that it’s right. I’m really glad that I stumbled upon your work on learning how to learn and I really appreciate it.

    The fact that I’m motivated to learn has been an eye-opener for me, I’ve never felt such a drive before because I never really felt like I could learn well. I’ve never had the principles, the understanding or the motivation to see that I can improve my skills in something as fast as other people, and so I’ve failed to learn so many new things because of physical and mostly psychological behaviors.

    Your work has really changed my thoughts, and like the nature of mastering an art such as calligraphy, it really isn’t all that painless when you break things down step by step. As my thirst is slowly being quenched, I hope to see that I can learn just as much as you did. Thanks for all the books, writing, and no bullshit approach.

    Aloha, Josh

  24. I recently read the 4 hour chef & loved it. I was curious about more language learning tips & that brought me here.

    I just noticed that the 100 written words are arranged by frequency, but the 100 spoken words are arranged alphabetically. Is there a reason for this? I felt the implication was that they are arranged by use.

    I just got the 4 hour workweek – looking forward to it

  25. Hi Timothy,

    First I want to thank you for giving birth to The 4-Hour Workweek. I know many people before me have already said it, but your book has – without any comparison – been the one book that has made the biggest difference to me. Thanks!

    Besides having cut down my workload significantly I’ve just started learning Spanish which I wouldn’t have believed I would ever get to do post 4HWW; because of lack of self confidence and not least because I thought I didn’t have the time for it. Now I have time for that and a whole lot of other things I would never have dared dreaming of before.

    Thanks!

    Nina – a true Danish fan of you.

  26. Hi Tim,

    I just want to let you know that 4HWW and your blogs on learning language has made a huge difference in my life. If it wasn’t for your contributions there were so many things, among these learning several new languages, that I (still) wouldn’t be doing. Thank you so much, and keep up the brilliant work you are doing …. I simply need words to describe my gratitude!

    Nicolai Kostakis

  27. Yes – I concur: 4HLanguage would be a certain success. Pls write 😉

    DuoLingo is my starting point for brushing up Portuguese. Was fluent some 30 yrs ago in Rio as a 10-yr-old … Will hit Ipanema soon, Swedish springs are just too darn cold!

    Also, I general thanks to your 4HWW theories. My extensive airline pilot career has surprisingly hit the crossroads — your insights are priceless 😉

  28. I’ve been living off and on in Malaysia over the past four years. I’ve always known the language was pretty simple but haven’t made much of an effort to learn it. I just did a google translate of the 100 written words noted in this post. It’s interesting to see from this that Malay doesn’t appear to have tense and is often simplified. The 100 English words are only represented by 74 Malay. For example:

    Adalah = Is / Was / Are / Were

    Yang = The / That / Which / Who / Its

  29. Thank you Tim I translated how to learn in 3 hours. And clicks done in me, I finally understood English! Thank you thank you Tim

    Elisabeth

  30. The easiest and most fun way of learning any language, like Mandarin or English, is through befriending with native speakers. You will learn while enjoying making it easier for you.

    JOZELLE

    [Moderator: link removed]

  31. I have only just read your great book Tim. I am bi-lingual (from birth) and taught languages on and off. I was tired of horrendously boring text books and impractical words being taught. I have recently started a blog/lessons to teach fruity French words, slang and useful expressions. This is the only way you can actually learn a living language. It’s so patronising that foreign language teachers refuse to teach this stuff. We all know the rude words in our own languages and it’s up to us whether or now we choose to use them. Do they think everyone will develop foreign language Tourette’s all of a sudden! Great article and glad to read about someone who shares my ‘learn the real language’ philosophy. Merci beaucoup.

  32. Great. I am happy to read this, I have to learned to speak Japanese. I am going to Japon for the World Championship and seminar and also visiting a few tea plantation for my company next october. So I have a few month in front of me for learning. I read all your books and you are a genious. I try to apply it I have no money but I do a lot of things like going to Japan this year. Absolutly great!

  33. Hi! Anybody know of good place to download frequency list of word for Japanese? Preferably with translation 😀 Thanks for any help.

  34. The first time that I heard about learning a language in three months was a TEDX talk by Benny Lewis. This got me thinking that why not make it easier for people to learn new languages with a much better mobile application.

    With my start-up I am going to start a crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to listening to the Tim Ferriss Show (Thank you Tim). If anyone is interested in more info come check my start-up out.

    On May 8, 2015 we will be participating in Crowdfunding madness! We are in the finals for Crwdpuisto 2015 competition for the best company or service story in a format of video! If you are interested find me on Facebook and you will be able to find info about the app.

    I hope we can help you lean new languages more effectively. Together we can reform education by showing how it should be done. Thank you for reading and I look forward to producing the last language app you will ever need.

    Best regards,

    Michael

  35. I have a question regarding learning Kanji. You deconstructed the 1945 kanji characters to 214 radicals which are present in each character. And the premise being learning these would be a good and timely building block to learn kanji. My question is when you have 2 radicals such as ム (む myself) and 广 (まだれ dotted cliff) how do you get 広い (big) when you combine them? I Feel as if I’m missing something.

    1. You would need to use imagery like in “Remembering the Kanji.” Adjectives are always tough, but you could imagine your face on a dotted cliff like Mount Rushmore, which is wide.

  36. Excellent article, I’ve spent more time than I’m willing to admit trying to learn languages but this approach flat out makes sense and gives me a plan that tutors never could. Always appreciate your posts on language learning and proactively bettering ones self. Thanks Tim

  37. Great post Tim! I have two goals this year. Learning Spanish and learning to play the piano.

    Is there a Okano Isao judo book for Spanish?

    The piano is a little off topic, I understand. Because I have limited time to practice, I need a roadmap to follow to make the fastest and best progression.

    Can you/anyone advice/help?

    Big thanks in advance!

    Joep

  38. Your thoughts on languages are spot on. I studied at the Monterey Institute of International Studies (the civilian version—now part of Middlebury). All my language gains came from diving into content courses: my core accounting and finances classes were in Spanish; I spent my second year of law school in Germany with German students (had NO business doing that before I went, but learned quickly); another time, I took my marketing and strategy courses in French. It’s content, content, content that matters. Also: my trick was to keep a little book around. Take it out and write down words that people use. Involve your circle in your learning. People want to be teachers and to help, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and you move quickly. It’s the only way to go. Now, getting rid of my cheesy American accent is another thing, that may never happen.

    In other news, the link to the USC video is dead on my side. Happy to send a screenshot of the error if helpful.

  39. Hi Tim, I am listening songs or the target language I am learning. Trust me it is helping me to phrase sentences and even sing my own songs. I never accelerated with normal mode of language learning(Bookish). Hope this helps and your articles are great as usual. BTW just finishing with The 4 hour Work Week, I am captivated.

  40. Hi,

    I agree with you that learning a language in three months is possible but you must be highly highly highly motivated and all circumstances must be perfect. I however think that it’s not possible for a normal learner with other things to do. And furthermore you need the perfect learning methods.

    Great article with a lot of stimulating content.

    Kind regards Christine

  41. I hope you find this and respond to it, I know I’m a bit late.

    Can you consider writing an article like this about programming languages? The logic is all there. There IS a grammar to coding languages. I just don’t think it DIRECTLY translates.

  42. Thank you for this information.

    I’ve read four-hour work week, and attempting to implement much of what I learned. Many friend post your work and ideas on Facebook. I’ve been through tough times and hope to achieve my potential in life.

    Thanks

    Michael P.

  43. Hi I am currently learning Mandarin Chinese, I have ground my way to C1 level but am still targetting C2

    The biggest hinderance I find is my listening, which takes away my ability to converse more in daily situations. Any tips specifically about improving listening – to get from having conversations where people speak slowly/simply to allow to you follow, to where they speak at a naturally fast pace? That gap seems a difficult one to bridge

    many thanks, keep up the good work!

  44. Hola estoy muy interesada en saber tu método de aprender el idioma inglés rápido, quedaría muy agradecida con tu ayuda .

  45. Hey Tim, thanks for this post. I’m a recent (within the past 6 months) follower of yours. Do you have any specific programs, podcasts, books you recommmend for learning Thai? I’ve bee studying through YouTube videos and some books I have. I’m comfortable with what I know at this point but I’m nowhere near fluency. Thank you!

  46. ¿Hablas español?

    This is one of the most common sentences native Spanish speakers use when they travel abroad, but…are they the only ones? No way! Native speakers of the most widely spoken languages tend to do the same. Luckily, we all have English as “lingua franca”.

    ¡Enhorabuena señor Ferris! (Congratulations!)

  47. hello Timothy!

    i found this blog after listening to your TED talk, smash fear and learn anything! i am learning japanese too and i also read your articles on learning languages and they are very helpful! but i was hoping if you could give some tips exclusive to japanese? also, the kanji chart in your ted talk….can i get it from somewhere?

    thanks in advance! i hope you respond!!!!

  48. Thanks, your theory is definitely correct. As an example, I was not a good language learner before. I usually got only “PASS” when I was in my English class at school. But when I got into my job as a programmer, I have to read a lot of programming language books which was written in English, after finishing several of these books, I can read English books easily, of course, I mean the English books in IT category. At that time, the language is only the second priority, programming is the most priority. When I was reading these books, I even forgot the language itself, I was just USING English. That surprised me. It is what you summarized in your theory, I think I can follow your theory and master more foreign languages.

  49. I personally like learning with flashcards. One of the recent apps I’ve discovered and am obsessed with is VocApp, really fun app! So easy to learn!

    I’ll leave some links for you guys:

    [Moderator: links removed.]

  50. Tim,

    AWESOME blog post.

    I truly need your help. (1) I cannot locate a spoken frequency listing for Russian. As you noted, written is very different — I am surpassing the top 500 written, I MUST refocus on words used in conversation.

    (2) Have you ever seen a modification of your basic sentences for Russian? Grammar is NOT as brutal as vocab in Russian (sorry everyone) … But gramar in Russian is bigger than most other languages.

    Addressing your advice: Effectiveness — I am surpassing 500 most common written; adherence — off and on for ten years, seriously studying for the last 2 months; and efficiency — I am working your sentences in. I need to expand those — conjugation of verbs is ok for me.

    AFTER, brute force acquisition of Russian Vocab, I think I have FINALLY, moved to the downhill stretch.

    I live part time in Ukraine. Russian often uses 3 to 6 synomic words in a simple conversation for the main subjects and verbs …

    Thank you!

    Wayne

  51. Thanks a lot, Tim! I love your approach to living. I have tried to learn Spanish and Mandarin several times, but it didn’t work. Will try to master Spanish now using your approach.

    Best wishes

    Marina Volkova @marishunechonka – Ironman, 13 countries with a baby, several online and offline businesses, Kilimanjaro accent – all these things done in 2 years of child care leave