The Secret to Learning a Foreign Language as an Adult


TIME

Answer by David Bailey, CEO of Spotnight, on Quora.

I’ve learned several foreign languages as an adult. I was able to learn French to conversation fluency in 17 days using the following techniques. Note that I had previously learned Spanish to fluency so this was not my first foreign language.

In summer of 2005 I stayed with a French friend in a tiny village in the Beaujolais region of France. No one in the village spoke English and, since my friend knew I had an ambitious learning goal, she refused to speak to me in English as well.

I set up a routine where I did the same things every day.

In the mornings, I woke up and wrote out longhand the regular and irregular verb tables for 1.5-2 hours. I managed to get through an entire pad of paper in two weeks. I still believe that writing…

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Why do we language?


neuroecology

Aeon has an article on how the genetics that contribute to language are actually part of a much larger system:

But over the years, it became clear that the truth about language origins was not quite as simple as a “language gene” or well-defined language module. Further study revealed that the FOXP2gene is relevant to multiple mental abilities and is not strictly a language gene at all. In a 2009 paper, for example, Max Planck Institute geneticist Wolfgang Enard exploited the fact that just three amino acids distinguish the human version of the FOXP2 protein from that of mice. When he engineered the FOXP2 genes of mice to produce proteins with the two human FOXP2 amino acids, it resulted in functional differences in brain areas critical for carrying out fine motor tasks and controlling muscle movements, as well as altered function in regions involved in sending and receiving reward…

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What Do the Words You Use Say About You?


TIME

A lot.

Your personality can be determined just by looking at the way you text message. You can make accurate judgments about your favorite author’s personality just by reading their work. You can probably tell a great deal about my personality from the words I use in my blog posts.

Word choice can predict whether you’re depressed, suicidal or lying. Swearing makes you more persuasive. It’s true, asshole:

…obscenity at the beginning or end of the speech significantly increased the persuasiveness of the speech and the perceived intensity of the speaker. Obscenity had no effect on speaker credibility.

Word choice changes when you’re lying:

An analysis of 242 transcripts revealed that liars produced more words, more sense-based words (e.g., seeing, touching), and used fewer self-oriented but more other-oriented pronouns when lying than when telling the truth. In addition, motivated liars avoided causal terms when…

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TED Talk: How not to be ignorant about the world


Hans Rosling, global health expert and data visionary, one of the greatest speakers ever on TED, right beside Ken Robinson, Shawn Achor, and so many more.

How much do you know about the world? Hans Rosling, with his famous charts of global population, health and income data (and an extra-extra-long pointer), demonstrates that you have a high statistical chance of being quite wrong about what you think you know.