Have you ever wanted to learn another language but thought it was too late? Are you living the laptop lifestyle jumping from country to country and need to learn the basics quick? Maybe you are a longterm learner and have yet to make that breakthrough to feeling confident in your second language.
Whichever one it is I can relate as I have actually been all these at some point over the last few years.
- 1 Why Learn a Second Language?
- 2 How To Learn A New Language
- 3 What I used
- 4 Glossika Mass Sentence Method
- 5 Final Thoughts On Learning A Second Language
- 6 To Sum it up
- 7 Further Reading and Information
Why Learn a Second Language?
There are so many reasons some are obvious before you start and some you only start to realize once you make a bit of progress in your second language.
But here are my 5 reasons that make learning a second language an absolute no brainier as it has so many benefits. This is coming from someone who hated languages in school and after 3 years formal French classes could barley order a meal or find the train station (common sentences it seems in French books for kids in UK) !
1. You get Super Powers!
Really it’s true! Well put it this way your appreciation for language increases and your understanding of your native language improves drastically as a result of learning a new language. Your attention to detail in general starts to improve as result of the focused attention in your language learning.
2. Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resistance
From various studies it does appear that those who are bilingual have a later onset of any symptoms compared to those who are monolingual.
It’s certainly not conclusive but anything that could keep our brain working and improving is surely a good thing. So maybe think of a second language as a form of health insurance, but I would still make sure you have a good policy just in case 🙂
3. Ex pat Shame
This is only for those long term ex pats. If you are only in a country for a short period then generally just a few polite words to make daily life easier are needed.
But when you are spending a year or more in one place the questions you get start to get more and more uncomfortable when your language ability is the same as when you arrived.
Local/New Ex pat: How long have you lived here?
You: Anything above 2 years starts to get a bit uncomfortable!
Local/New Ex pat: Oh right so you must speak really good (Insert Chosen Language Here) by now!
You: Time for a sharp exit, change your name and grow a beard.
Anyone living as an ex pat will be familiar with these situations as they become part of the daily barrage of curious questions from friendly locals.
There is a real feeling of accomplishment when you are asked these questions in the local language and are able to respond and make a new friend.
The respect and the way the locals see you changes drastically.
4. You Get To Meet New People
This is massive and can be life changing.
Just think of all the people in the world who speak a different language than you. All those cool, interesting people. All the conversations you could be having, the new friends, not to mention the possibility of your future wife or husband being someone you meet as a direct result of you speaking the local language.
This really for me at least showed me how many opportunities I could be missing purely from not speaking another language.
5. Learning Your 3rd or 4th Language Will Be Much Easier!
You only have to do it once.
After you have got some confidence in your second language and understood how best to learn and practice it then it makes learning new languages much easier
Now I am a complete amateur on this stage of the journey as I have only played with the idea of a 3rd language.
But from where I am now in my second language I can certainly see how much quicker it would be as I know 100% how to approach it.
So thats our 5 reasons but I could list another 100 reasons, like job opportunities, creativity, confidence etc but I think it’s petty clear. Learning a second language is awesome and gives you opportunities you actually could never imagine when limited to one language.
Now lets look at how to learn.
How To Learn A New Language
What follows is very much my own opinion on learning. I will include all the tools and methods I used and am still using in the ongoing process.
Hours NOT Years, Ability NOT Certificates
I say the same for Martial Arts, it’s the the hours on the mat that counts not the years passively involved.
You could put in 2-3 hours per day learning for 2 hours and then speaking with a Language Exchange partner for another 1 hour per day and after 3 months be able to speak and converse in the language (to a degree).
Or you could go to an evening class once a week and spend maybe an hour outside of class on self study zero language exchange and after 1 year it would be a challenge to see any real ability in using the language.
What About The Grammar?
Forget the Grammar! Did it help you learn your native language?
For me it certainly didn’t. My main aim is spoken communication first and foremost and to achieve that goal, learning complicated grammar rules will not help me. one bit.
It’s like the theory of being punched in the face! It just doesn’t do the reality justice.
Listening, speaking and using the language are the only things that actually help in real life usage.
Sentences NOT Words
For a long time I was looking at books or going to classes where I was expected to remember hundreds of unrelated words!
About 5 seconds after I left a class the words would leave my brain! They had no reason to stick around as they meant nothing to me. How did they help me in my life?
What meant something to me was being able to buy my coffee and cake without looking like an idiot, understanding their follow up questions like iced coffee or hot, milk, sugar etc.
Or knowing how to buy my train tickets and flights in the local language without making some crazy mistake and booking flights to the wrong country.
This was the important stuff, how to use what little language I had in confident sentences actually in real life.
Plus it all needed to be done at the speed of normal conversations not like a slow motion replay.
So whats the alternative to the standard methods so often seen in classrooms and home study courses?
The Mass sentence method!
Why? Well think about what make you get better at something. Is it the time? Or is it the exposure?
If we look at my earlier comment, hours of active training versus years involved. It makes sense to me that it is the amount of time I am exposed to the language in an active way, actually trying to understand the language. Not trying to remember it!
Did you hear that? NO need to try to remember…happy days.
So mass sentence practice gives us a lot of exposure to a language. Instead of listening and speaking to a few sentences per week given to you from your local class or home study course.
Now, this method will expose you to hundreds of sentences every day.
You will hear and attempt to repeat these sentences.
The difference in progress is remarkable.
All we are looking for is exposure. Memory happens naturally through mass exposure over a duration of time combined with the muscle memory of speaking the sentences our mouth and tongue get accustomed to these new ways of moving.
What I used
Now the Mass Sentence Method I will give more details of a little later. but before I even discovered that method I found Pimsleur.
Pimsleur (See it here on Amazon) is super popular as it is also more concerned with speaking and a daily ability to use the language.
Paul Pimsleur (1928-1976)
Dr. Pimsleur was one of the world’s foremost experts in applied linguistics. He taught French phonetics and phonemics at UCLA after obtaining his Ph.D. in French and a master’s degree in psychological statistics from Columbia University. After leaving UCLA, Pimsleur went on to faculty positions at Ohio State and SUNY at Albany, where he held dual professorships in Education and French.
His research focused on language acquisition, especially the organic learning that takes place as children learn to speak their native language. He discovered how to select and organize the materials of the second language to fit the one way that the stream of speech of an unknown language can enter the consciousness of the adult and be processed through the language learning power of the human brain.
He applied the results of his research on the acquisition process to second-language learning and the results became the Pimsleur Language Learning Method.
This method is a really good start and I actually know of people both here in Taiwan and in Beijing that used only Pimsleur to get themselves up to a good intermediate level. They just listened and repeated along with Pimsleur as much as they could hours every day. The results were impressive.
For me I used Pimsleur only to get the basics down. When I first arrived in Taiwan I didn’t even know the numbers as our move here was so sudden.
So Pimsleur quickly allowed me to get the basics to understand simple please, thank you, I want, I don’t want etc.
I would have gone hungry had it not been for Pimsleur and 7-11.
They have a free lesson available on their website so well worth giving it a try to see if it suits you.
Life After Pimsleur
After scouring the forums I heard about a few other methods.
First was Michel Thomas Method, I was excited as I had heard great things, it sounded a perfect way to make some breakthroughs in my speaking. But unfortunately I found it was just too slow, it seemed like it would take decades to progress with this method.
I know many will disagree as it is super popular but it seemed to me to be a very slow version of Pimsleur with far less vocabulary.
But if you are serious about your language learning then it is worth checking and experiencing it for yourself as it just might work for you.
I also used Assimil which is a tried and tested method from a French company. The quality seems to vary depending on what language you are leaning. The version I had for Mandarin was a great but slow and steady method.
It really does help you to slowly assimilate the language over a period of 6 month, worth a try but I see it more as a support material than a primary source.
But time for the main event.
After all these previous methods I still felt I was lacking something and that despite a lot of practice my experience in Language Exchange was painfully embarrassing!
Then I found out about a Polyglot in Taiwan called Mike Campbell who had formulated his own Mass Sentence Method.
Mike at the time had a lot of videos on Youtube (Unfortunately Youtube deleted a lot of this older material) which showed his mass sentence method in use with live classes, being tested by real students both Taiwanese and foreigners.
Lets now look at that method.
Glossika Mass Sentence Method
This is the method that brought me and some friends here in Taiwan the most progress by far.
It’s not a magic bullet and still requires you to do the work but at least with this I felt my work was not in vain and was able to notice the effects of the training sooner rather than later.
Lets look at exactly what the Glossika Mass Sentence Method is and remember of course this is my take on it, for the official explanation of the method it’s best to check the site out here or check out this video of the founder.
The goal of the Glossika Method is Fluency.
Fluency is often mentioned as some far off mythical goal unachievable unless you have spent decades in the trenches of language learning.
Thankfully Glossika doesn’t see it that way.
To speak a language smoothly and confidently – in a flowing way. (From Latin fluens, “flowing”).
The ability to use what you have right now even if your vocabulary is limited, you can still confidently use what you have.
This is exactly what the method achieves.
It’s not about perfection and to be honest if you are looking for a perfect scholarly method then this might not be for you. With this method you are gaining the ability to actually express yourself with no thinking about complicated grammar rules.
This is entirely about results, all about fluent speaking.
Glossika Mass Sentence – How Does It Get Results?
Remember you are not tying to remember long lists of words or rules. You just do it and in the process of doing it you cover multiple areas of language of learning through mass exposure not memorization.
All the things like grammar, syntax, pronunciation etc, is all taken care of through mass exposure.
Glossika has changed a little over the last few years. When I got involved there was an audio only version but now all languages come with at least an ebook in the basic package.
Its built on a algorithm that is designed for maximum natural recall. This comes from Mike Campbell’s (The Founder of Glossika) research and communication with a psychology professor Alan Baddeley.
This is the man who discovered working memory in the brain.
So you can see Glossika has not just been thrown together. Its been put together based upon the most up to date research combined with a whole lot of testing.
The results have shown that for Glossika’s spaced recognition to be most effective, hours of cramming are not required and are not the best use of your time.
Rather 20 mins per day or in one focused session has been the most effective. This relates to your sleep cycle as your sleep (Deep REM sleep) is when the brain connects patterns and organizes data.
Glossika use this natural function in a conscious way to enable more efficient learning.
Again for the full details of the method check the Glossika site here, also I have found Mike to be very open to questions and communication.
Here is another video look at the method minus the book for learning Mandarin Chinese.
How Much Time To Invest In The Method?
3 Months Per book
If you are short on time then you can use Glossika for only 20 minutes a day which is actually the perfect amount of time for their listening algorithm.
Taking this route will mean that each book will take you about 3 months to complete.
The audio on Glossika starts off pretty quick but one thing to be sure of is don’t stop the recording or go back trying to hear the words.
Just let it flow. You will hear the same words over a dozen time times over the next 5 days. So resist trying to ‘get it right’ and just do your best.
I was surprised as some sentences I thought I would never get and within 5 days I recognized it, could say it and more importantly began to find opportunities in real life to use it!
This gives you a little idea of what the method is like, but remember there is also a book
1 Month Per Book
Now if you have more time available Glossika’s mass sentence method really takes on another level of intensity.
This will require 1-2 hours per day.
Every day you will be introduced to 50 new sentences.
Over 5 days you will do the following:
You can see how this breaks down with each set of 50 sentences here.
It’s an intensive schedule which really does bring results.
Personally I preferred the first method of a focused 20 minutes listening and repeating only.
Then I would use any additional time I had in doing language exchange either in person or on Skype.
What Languages Can You Learn With Glossika?
While I have been focusing on learning Mandarin with a Taiwanese accent, yes Glossika provides different dialects! There is another version of Mandarin with standard Beijing accent.
There are a lot of languages on offer! This is really refreshing as a lot of languages are also included that you just do not see offered elsewhere.
This shows Mikes love of languages in the amount of languages now offered. There are far to many to list so have a look here to see if your chosen language is listed. I suspect it is.
All of those listed languages consist of 3 levels taking you from simple sentences all the way up to intermediate level. This is the Fluency course.
For those who have completed the Fluency course there are also additional business and lifestyle courses available for some languages.
Final Thoughts On Learning A Second Language
I have never been that interested in languages as an adult. When I was young I thought it would be pretty cool to speak several languages but my experience at school learning in the most boring way ever put me right off.
It was only after moving to Taiwan that made me look at learning a language out of necessity.
For me I was not getting too far with a lot of the well known brands out there. Certainly I was remembering more words, at least temporarily but this didn’t translate into real world usage.
It was only the discovery of Glossika that for me helped me make some real progress and made the whole process exciting as the goal of fluency was now within reach and seemed a realistic goal.
Where Am I In My Learning?
Am I there yet? Honestly no I have a long way to go, plus I have been super lazy and coasted on the foundation I got from Glossika.
But what I do know now is that I can reach a very good level when I apply myself to the method, I have proven it to myself and got the confidence thanks to Glossika
I have the method that works for me and know now I can make real progress on a 3rd language when and if I decide to start.
I have to remind my self that the progress I have made has been in what is generally known as a fairly tough language.
My next challenge could be to learn Spanish as lots of adventure can be had if I can speak that. . So I think using Glossika for this could bring super charged results as the European languages seem a little more accessible to momentum in.
So you see learning a second language even if you have never been too good with languages is super possible and opens up a world of opportunity.
I want to thank you all for your reading stamina in getting through this whole post. I wanted to share my experience in learning a second languages and hopefully have made clear my thoughts.
To Sum it up
Glossika is the best language learning method I have used. I recommend it to anyone who mentions even a slight interest in learning a language.
Glossika is only the tool. You still have to do the work.
You will still need a lot of language exchange and real life practice.
Is Glossika the only way? Absolutely not and none of these methods need to be exclusive. Be the Bruce Lee of language learning and use what works for you.
Just make sure you fully understand the method before you start discarding things. For some myself included, I exclusively use Glossika as it focuses on speaking. But for others it’s just another tool in the toolbox.
If you are learning a language right now then please get in touch and share your goals and progress and remember amazing progress can be had in a short space of time.
Here is Benny Lewis proving that after just over 3 months of language learning. I get super inspired watching this and hope you will be equally inspired.
Until next time, if you have found this post useful then please like and share, a lot of coffee was drunk in the process of writing this 🙂
Further Reading and Information
Glossika Mass Sentence Method – The Method that made it all seem possible for me.
Fluent In 3 Months – A really inspiring language community founded by Benny Lewis who has traveled the world doing 3 month language challenges. Super positive place to be.
Pimsleur – This is what allowed me to order food in the early days! Great for the basics.
Scott H Young, The Year Without English – Scott & Vat spend 1 year learning four different languages. Here is the main page of the project and here is my favorite video that they did. After you watch it you will know why.
FSI – This is very old school language training with drills and exercises, recordings and more drills. It bored me but I do know a few people have got good results with it. Rumor has it that the US Government used this program. It’s all free so take a look.
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