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Learning a Language Quickly

1. Deconstruct the language.

Break common sentences down into something


intelligible. Your goal is to create simple plug-
and-play structures for new vocabulary.
你吃饭了吗?
This is probably the very first sentence you
learn in Chinese.
你吃饭了吗?
Subject Object
Interrogative
Verb
Tense modifier (“Question”)
(“You”) (“Food”)
(“Eat”)
(“Past”)
你吃饭了吗?
This is a sentence structure. You can “plug in”
new vocabulary easily to make new sentences.

A. 你回来了吗?
B. 你准备好了吗?
C. 你去过了吗?
D. 你真过了吗?
E. 他们明白了吗?
I like hamburgers.
It works exactly the same way in English. You
can make hundreds of sentences from just one
simple structure.

A. I like watermelon.
B. I hate bananas.
C. I love Mommy.
D. You can’t stand politics.
E. They adore Paris.
unhappily
You can also deconstruct individual words.

“Un” is a prefix. “Happy” is the root word. “ly”


is the suffix.
antidisestablishmentarianism

This seems difficult – but it isn’t.

The same rules apply. This word is made up of


prefixes, a root word, and suffixes.

Can you break it down?


Learning a Language Quickly

2. Focus on learning high-frequency words.

Many language courses do not focus on the


most common – the most useful – words.

When have you ever been asked what color


something is?
Top 100 Words – Spoken English
• a/an • go • one • place • think
• after • good • more • please • this
• again • goodbye • most • same • time
• all • happy • much • see • to
• almost • have • my • she • under
• also • he • new • so • up
• always • hello • no • some • us
• and • here • not • sometimes • use
• because • how • Now • still • very
• before • I • of • such • we
• big • am • often • tell • what
• but • if • on • thank you • when
• can • in • one • that • where
• come • know • only • the • which
• either/or • last • or • their • who
• find • like • other • them • why
• first • little • our • then • with
• for • love • out • there • yes
• friend • make • over • they • you
• from • many • people • thing • your
Top 100 Words – Written English
• the • at • there • some • my
• of • be • use • her • than
• and • this • an • would • first
• a • have • each • make • water
• to • from • which • like • been
• in • or • she • him • call
• is • one • do • into • who
• you • had • how • time • oil
• that • by • their • has • its
• it • word • if • look • now
• he • but • will • two • find
• was • not • up • more • long
• for • what • other • write • down
• on • all • about • go • day
• are • were • out • see • did
• as • we • many • number • get
• with • when • then • no • come
• his • your • them • way • made
• they • can • these • Could • may
• I • Said • so • People • part
Learning a Language Quickly

3. Put yourself in new and different situations.

Talk to different people. Your friend will always


like hamburgers. Ask someone else.
Learning a Language Quickly

4. Practice active listening.

Listen to native speakers. What do they actually


say in this or that situation? Why?

Be sensitive to recasts (corrections) of language.


Learning a Language Quickly

5. Mimic native speech early and often.

The easiest way to sidestep L1 interference is to


copy native speech patterns and intonations.