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Learning French

Vat Jaiswal and Scott Young – One Simple Method to Learn any Language – Part 2

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TED Talks for Language Learning

So, in my last article I wrote about the findings of these two guys with regards to language learning. During my French language stay in Montpellier I have discovered more and more about the process both on my French immersion course at the ILA Language School and out in the city talking to people or in my conversations with my host families. A lot of what these specialists say very much mirrors my own feelings (albeit in a far more eloquent and intellectual way) and I think the technique they propose is a great idea. What do they propose then, and how can it help those of us learning French in France? That is the topic of this article and I will also add how their ideas relate to my own experiences.

Vat and Scott’s Idea for Rapid Language Learning

The method they propose is pretty simple. Don’t speak any English. At all.

They argue that this technique gets you through the more grinding parts of the process of language learning as quickly as possible. One of the things they touch upon is necessity. The structure at the ILA French Language School is designed to be relevant and useful to students doing an immersion course here in Montpellier but many textbooks out there and self-study packs tend to teach you stuff in a generic, systematic way. This design means that many of the things you learn from them might not come up in conversation for ages after you’ve read about those subjects. With not speaking any English however things come up in order of necessity, or close to it. The things you need to communicate daily will come up more frequently and as you don’t know much vocabulary you will use what you do know more often too; this allows you to recall the information automatically.

Another benefit is that in this situation, without a fall-back language, you will develop techniques and strategies that will enable you to communicate when you find yourself in conversations that are out of your depth.

This includes several phrases that you are probably all too familiar with as they are often thrown around in our French languages classes when we are discussing new topics. I will dedicate a whole article to these phrases and how to use them whilst you’re learning French in France because I think this is a brilliant habit to get into. I think the other French students at the language school and I translate too quickly the words we want to find out rather than trying to describe and discuss them in French.

These are phrases like:

‘What is this called?’
‘How do you say this?’
‘What does this mean?’
‘The thing like a big/small….’

Using words you already know in French as a reference is great. So as an example, if you want to find the word for ‘hill’ you could use the above in a couple of ways:

  1. What is this called? (Whilst pointing at a hill)
  2. How do you say the thing like a small mountain (Montagne is very close to English so easy to remember)

I remember the words I learn this way more and now I have the phrases I need to manoeuvre around areas I don’t know right on the tip of my tongue. If you take nothing else away from this video take this tip. It’s faster and more fun than using your translation app.

This is the technique that they propose and I really think it can help you learn French in France. The French immersion course approach gives you the perfect opportunity to give this a try. You may want to know what kind of impact this would have on you during your French studies and that is what my next article will be about as Vat and Scott tested it out themselves over the course of an entire year.