Overcome the Fear of Speaking

Written by Yuri Karabatov. Follow me on Twitter.

There is time, especially in the early stages of learning a new language, when it’s hard to make yourself speak out or actually talk to someone. The words won’t come out, or you feel shy, or both.

Beware: if you let this persist, it can stretch for years. Some people are known to leave speaking for later, when they are more confident or know more words. This later of theirs never comes.

Benny Lewis of Fluent in 3 months is sure that one should speak from day one of learning a new language: it helps memorize words and yields invaluable practice. I can’t but agree with him: you should speak as soon as you know a few words.

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Weekend Links: January 9

Today I want to share with you some of the blog posts this week which I found interesting.

1. Robby Kukurs of English Harmony published a free e-book “Power of English Phrasal Verbs”.

As he puts it, if you don’t know enough spoken English, “much of what native English speakers say might be lost on you”. Phrasal verbs are an important part of spoken English, no doubt.

If you are studying English or having a hard time understanding natives, this e-book is just for you.

2. Benny Lewis of Fluent in 3 months shared “My multilingual summer in Barcelona”.

Benny tells us how he has spent one day in Barcelona — speaking Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, French and Italian while having fun. Now that’s someone to learn enthusiasm from!

3. Jennie Wagner of Jennie en France reviewed “The Power of Babel by John McWhorter”.

The Power of Babel is a book about the natural history of language, and Jennie highlights some of the more interesting points in her review. Have a look, it’s worth it!

Think Differently

Written by Yuri Karabatov. Follow me on Twitter.

The best way to learn a language is to use it all the time. Apart from speaking, reading and writing, it means thinking.

The ultimate way to learn a language is to think in it.

Now, there is a major point you should remember. Thinking in a language is the best way to retain knowledge, and that’s it.

Thinking won’t teach you anything. You still have to read and listen to learn new grammar and improve vocabulary.

Thinking, nevertheless, helps you solidify everything you’ve learnt so far. So, how do you trick your brain into it?

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How to Memorize Kana in 60 Minutes

Written by Yuri Karabatov. Follow me on Twitter.

I’ve finally started on Japanese, and there’s not much time until December, when I’m taking the JLPT.

My mission for today was to memorize all Japanese kana characters, most of which you can see in the picture.

Kana Chart

I tried to do it once, several years ago, and failed miserably. It took me three days and even then I confused the characters. Those three days were my first and last days of learning Japanese.

This time, it took me 60 minutes.

What did I do right this time?

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Comprehension Breakthrough

There is a time in learning a new language when everything “clicks” into place and makes sense.

If you’re using conventional methods, chances are that you’ll experience few comprehension breakthroughs and they’ll be rather short.

Comprehension breakthrough is a linguistic orgasm. There are ways of stretching them and making them more frequent.

Let me explain.

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35740868 Heartbeats

Missed me? I know you did.

Scientists say all mammals have an average lifespan of a billion heartbeats. It means us humans as well.

We can stretch it, but we can’t stretch it indefinitely.

2010 has taught me that every heartbeat of that billion not spent in happiness and joy and passion is wasted, and that’s true.

If you don’t push your dream, no one will push it for you.

Let 2011 be the year of the dreams come true. No obstacle is big enough. Sky’s the limit.

I’m putting conventional wisdom to shame and doubt everything about learning languages. Want it done, wipe the slate clean and start all over. That’s what I’m doing.

Dream the impossible, achieve the unachievable. You can do it. I wish you all the luck in the world.

Cheers, have a great 2011!

Set Smart Goals — or Else!

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Written by Yuri Karabatov. Follow me on Twitter.

You must have a goal when you are starting on a new language. Without it you won’t see the complete picture and be able to plan what to do next. If you don’t know where you’re going, you might as well not start at all. A proper goal motivates you to learn faster and have more fun. A bad one may be worse than having no goal at all: it will throttle your progress – to a halt.

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Plans for Next Year

Written by Yuri Karabatov | Follow me on Twitter

Sorry for missing a couple of posts, I caught cold, had to work a bit, so all in all had not enough time to concentrate and write properly. My head doesn’t work in short chunks time, I need several uninterrupted hours to do serious thinking and writing. I’ve made a note of this and now will write up some posts in advance when I have enough time, so as not to go off schedule.

I’ll be rocking next year along the lines of Chris Guillebeau’s annual review, which is about creating a roadmap for the whole year, with categories of actions and their deadlines.

This year I’ve fully embraced planning, daily and weekly, and now it’s time to take the next step. In the past years many things did not happen because I hadn’t written a year plan; every December I feel bad because of so much not accomplished. Next year everything will be different.

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11 Things to Let Go: Forget the Old Ways

Written by Yuri Karabatov | Follow me on Twitter

This post was inspired by Reverb10.com, where you are encouraged to write 750 words (or about 3 pages) every day on a given topic which allows you to reflect on the year 2010 and manifest your expectations for 2011. Seems a great idea to me!

Today the topic is “11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011”. It won’t be only about me, but about you too, and many others who start on a new language and, to be true, sometimes fail miserably. Here’s to our success!

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The Simplest Way to Improve Memory

To achieve the impossible dream, try going to sleep. ~Joan Klempner

Oh well, after reading the quote you must have guessed already what I will be writing about today. It will be sleep, good and bad. What has it got to do with language learning, you ask? You will see. Soon, I promise! Keep reading.

There are lots of sayings and quotations about sleep, like the one up there under the post title. Many of them are about insomnia, or lack of sleep.

Sleep deprivation

I bet that at least once you have looked at your worn out self in the mirror after a sleepless night, and maybe a day after it, and maybe yet another night, and hoped it was not you. You aren’t five years older and don’t have those blood-shot eyes! What you may have seen is a result of severe sleep deprivation: your body craves sleep but doesn’t get it. You feel bad, your head hurts, thoughts fall down on themselves and you wake up in strange places, not knowing how you got there. This is a rare condition and doesn’t happen too often. You can just sleep a lot afterwards and be as good as new.

But there is another case of sleep deprivation which you may not be totally aware of, because you live with it every day. It is chronic sleep deprivation, and it’s much worse than the previous one, because you stop noticing it after a while and think that things are the way they should be, which, of course, is not the case.

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