(34) How This Polyglot Starts Learning Languages - YouTube
What's the ideal beginner material when you start a new language?
In my view, it's essentially what we have with the mini stories,
and I'm gonna explain why.
I think there are certain elements that you must have in an effective
beginner book or beginner material.
Number one, you have to have a lot of high frequency words, and
especially high frequency verbs, the doings, the give, take, want, need.
So high frequency verbs, but generally speaking, high frequency words.
The second thing you need is you need to have material where the same
words repeat often in each lesson.
All too often in the kind of, uh, beginner book that you buy, where
they take you from, uh, you know, the airport to the train station, to the
doctor's office, to uh, grocery store.
You're basically dealing with new vocabulary in every lesson.
And the, the other thing that's wrong with a lot of the other beginner material is
that they have a lot of explanation, a lot of, you know, quiz tests, drills, and
very little sort of content to learn from.
Uh, with our mini stories, it's the opposite.
It's entirely the story, but the story repeats in a way five times.
Because you hear the same story spoken in one person, like the first person or the
third person, or in one tense, and then in another tense or in another person, and
then you have a statement, then you have a question on that statement, and then you
have either a positive or negative answer.
So in all, you get five, more or less five, uh, occurrences of more or less the
same words in slightly different forms.
That's very reinforcing.
And the by the second or third time you that you hear these words, you are now in
a position you could even start imitating them because they're starting to be,
become sort of form part of your brain.
So first of all, high frequency, especially high frequency verbs.
Second of all, lots of repetition.
The third thing you need is lots of content, lots of them.
That's the other problem with traditional language books is you get a very
short snippet with a lot of exercises.
In ideal, in an ideal sort of beginner course or material like our mini stories,
you wanna have predominantly content.
Now, I'm assuming that the average person who starts in a language will
buy a book, uh, hopefully a small book.
And I'm very much in favor of buying the smallest grammar book you can find.
And this, uh, particular series, uh, Essential German Grammar, very thin.
Italian Grammar, very thin.
Uh, here's one that's Czech Grammar.
It's a little thicker and has a lot of examples.
Examples are good if you're gonna go for a book, and I think most people
should buy a book as a companion to the sort of ideal beginner material,
beginner course that I'm talking about.
In our mini stories, we don't take you to the train station and to the, uh,
you know, customs and all of the sort of traditional scenarios that most
beginner books use, because I don't believe that you will learn sort of the
script for a given scenario that's gonna enable you then to function comfortably
at the train station or at customs.
You have to kind of elevate your, your whole game.
And therefore, again, the ideal beginner material, which should have,
you know, high frequency, uh, verbs.
There should be a lot of it, like we have 60 mini stories, but it
should be about everyday life.
Things that happen all the time, things that are familiar to you, not
with the idea that you will, you know, master a script for a given situation.
I think that's an unrealistic expectation, but rather that you can get comfortable
in a wide variety of situations.
You'll hear the same structures over and over again, you'll, you'll
hear the same verbs over and over again, and that then helps the brain
to get used to this new language.
Bear in mind that my strategy with our many stories is I listen to them 20,
30 times, not at one sitting, but I end up listening to them 20 or 30 times.
I know that from our statistics.
Another thing about the mini stories, and this is why I'm fond of the many
stories, is after you've spent a fair amount of time exploring the language
with more interesting content, and you're going to be in a situation where
you're gonna have to use the language, which is now my situation with Polish.
I'm going back to the mini stories because the mini stores are like going to the gym.
And so I'm going back to the mini stories, reviewing, refreshing, uh, picking
up on some of the, sort of call them basic details that I once learned then
forgot, you know, learned again, forgot.
Now I want to go back in there and refresh my brain.
Work out, have a workout in the language.
And the mini stories are excellent for that purpose.
So, you know, your ideal, uh, beginner material should be material
that you can go back to later on as sort of a training exercise.
That means that it's not like there's a lesson one followed by two, and
that you're gradually sort of getting into more and more difficult material.
And that you start with, "hello, how are you?"
"My name is basically".
You're just put into the language.
You're put into lesson than one is a particular situation.
Lesson two is some other situation, and there's enough repetition that
even starting from scratch, as I have done on many occasions, I can cope.
I gradually start to save words and phrases, and I listen and I
read, and slowly, slowly, slowly, I become familiar with the language.
But it's not at a level of like for someone who knows nothing, it's actually
at a, call it lower intermediate level, eventually moving to a genuine,
genuine sort of intermediate level.
So when you go back to it, you're still in sort of normal language, spoken at
a normal speed so that the material, the beginner material, now becomes an
excellent, excellent training facility.
I should also add that an ideal beginner book in today's day and age
should be available in digital form.
So you can be on a computer or on an iPad.
You can click on Words to Save them.
You can click on them to hear them.
You can hear the audio for that sentence.
Uh, there's so many bits of functionality like we have at LingQ,
but not only at LingQ others as well.
There's so much functionality that's available if we're
in a digital environment.
And of course it's nice to read a paper book.
And of course it's, it's nice to have as a companion, you know, a paper
book, but primarily in order to get the language in our brain, we need
this kind of material that has audio and text and ability to find meanings
of words quickly and, and without having a thumb through a dictionary.
And, and of course if we add into that the sort of repetition, high frequency
and so forth, we have material that can give us a, a, a foothold in the language.
And from there we can then expand following our interests, more
compelling content and go as far as we want to go in the language.
But I think that beginner material is so important to get us started.
And, uh, in my view, the, you won't be surprised that I say this because I was
the one who basically, uh, specked out how I wanted the mini stories to be written.
I think that's the best way to get started in a language.
So thank you for listening.
Bye for now.