Before getting into the article, let me propose some scenarios:
Studying languages nowadays is a very popular thing, we have lots of free or paid programs and apps, from the famous ones like free Duolingo to the controversial and expensive Rosetta Stone. Do they really work? If so, will they always work no matter what and who uses them?
We have also a new scenario: polyglots from all over the world are appearing and showing their fabulous skills. If they can learn 5, 10 and 30 languages, the question is can we reproduce their results on other people? If, so how can we do that?
Common people, I mean non-polyglots or language learners, can’t even imagine this Polyglot Scenario. I grew up in huge monolingual country, Brazil. Here we do not need any language other than Portuguese. We have everything in Portuguese, TV, radio, books, the internet; even with the country being surrounded by Spanish speakers, the population doesn’t really care about learning it. English, being an international language, attracts more people’s attention, especially with the “Americanization”. American films and singers are quite popular among us, so this really attracts people’s attention. This scenario is not only in Brazil, but in Russia, Italy, Poland, Spain and others. Those people can’t still really believe that they can learn a new language - a polyglot in Brazil is like a “Mythical Creature”. The issue is: how can we help them to overcome this barrier and misconception? And beyond that, how can we help them to learn a language?
When we decide to learn a language, one of the first things we think about is where and how should we start. This is surely a good question, but not the best question! That's because if you don't know who you are, this can be very difficult. That is, are you only studying languages because it's fashionable, are you a trained polyglot, or a person that believes that you will never learn anything? Do you think you are the kind of committed enough person to study a language by yourself or do you need a teacher and a language school?
These questions can seem silly, but believe me, if you don't know exactly what kind of person you are, you WILL NOT reach your goals. If you are a trained polyglot and decide attending a course with 10-15 students that are learning because of their jobs or because it's fashionable, and if you are doing it in a traditional school full of grammar, and in a long term course, you will inevitable fail. And the same will happen if you are a person who believes in your own “incapacity” and “inability” to learn languages yet decide to buy a book with CDs and try to study alone, you will probably find everything difficult and this will only reinforce your ideas of impossibility.
So, YES, there is a perfect form to learn a language, but this is a subjective issue, and it will depend on how you are supposed to act and how you prefer learning. Maybe you don't know what kind of person you are; maybe you need an external help or point of view!
As a Linguist, Scientist of Education, and NLP Master, I can assure you that if one person can learn 30 languages, you can do the same, following the same patterns, but adapting them to your personal style!
Ok, ok, I guess you are still wanting a definitive answer, aren't you? I will give you a definite answer: there is no magic pill, there are no shortcuts, there is no perfect method, but there is one thing that can take you to your goals, and one thing that can stop you. This only thing is your mind! It can be your best friend and your worst enemy.
Being a polyglot has nothing to do with numbers of languages, not even with A, B or C levels. It is not a competition. For me, it is a way of living. How many languages do you love? How many languages have you tried and failed? In how many languages have you already tried a conversation? For me, the best polyglot is the one who loves languages! The best question is “How many languages should I have in my heart to be a polyglot?”. If you follow this idea, start to get off the “self-running race”, discover your way of learning, and give up the search for the magic pill, you will learn a language.
Jimmy Mello is a neurolinguist and holds two degrees: one in Linguistics and other in Educational Science. He is a polyglot and has been learning and teaching languages for over 20 years. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, and he can also speak Catalan, French, German, Dutch and Polish at different levels. He has developed a new method suitable for teaching any foreign language. He currently lives in Brazil where he runs his own language school, which he established in 1995. Find him at: www.mellomethod.com, www.mypolyglot.com, Twitter.com/jimmymello, and www.facebook.com/jimmymelloreal.
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|Who Are You To Learn A Language?|
All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.
|Letter From The Editor - Sounds Like|
|How Do You Say It? - A look at sound notation systems|
|Of Pidgins and Creoles - A look at how some languages are born|
|Who Are You To Learn A Language?|
|At the Cinema - Dil Chahta Hai|
|Languages in Peril - Yumans on the Edge|
|Words in Your Mouth - Egg|
|Where Are You?|
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Letter From The Editor - No Politics • Make Your Own Language Group • A History of Research in Study Abroad • Parrot Time on Patreon • Languages in Peril - Sayonara, Ainu • At the Cinema - La Coppia dei Campioni • Where Are You? • Book Look - The Bible of the Language Learners and Polyglots • Basic Guide to Romanian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Hope and Failing • Six Ways To Choose Which Languages To Learn • Learning Spanish - The trials, the tribulations and one triumphant learning hack • At the Cinema - The Last King (Birkebeinerne) • Celebrations - Birkebeinerrennet • Where Are You? • Book Look - Langenscheidt Dictionaries • Basic Guide to Swedish • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Culture and Language, Again • Learning A Language Is Learning Its Culture • Revisited - Early Bardic Literature in Ireland • Languages in Peril - Save Medan Hokkien! • In Others' Words - Ulrike and Peter Rettig • At the Cinema - Monster Hunt • Where Are You? • Book Look - Language Alter Ego • Basic Guide to Italian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - A Kind Word • Language and Power: The Hidden Struggle • 4 Ways To Learn Through Reading • Language Learning is for everyone! • Languages in Peril - The Decline of Sicilian • At the Cinema - The Host • Where Are You? • Book Look - Italian Short Stories for Beginners • Basic Guide to Hungarian • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Making it Happen • Motivation - Expressing oneself and the expression of oneself in language learning • Motivation Killers in Learning a Language • Mixing Languages and Relationships • In Others' Words - Brian Powers • At the Cinema - Cutting Room Floor • Languages in Peril - Cyprus' Language Revival Approach Problem • Where Are You? • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - The Importance of Travel • Broadening The Mind Travels The World • The Secret Life of Diacritics • There Are No Wrong And Right Gestures, Only Cultural Differences • Google Translate Exposed: - The Truth Behind Everyone's Favorite Translator • At the Cinema - Queen • Book Look - The A to Z of Learning German • Where Are You? • Basic Guide to Papiamentu • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Free Things • The Cost of Free Language Resources • Review of Polyglot Workshops: Brazil • Easier Way to Learn Languages Fast • Dream, decide, do - tips from a polyglot • At the Cinema - Cambio de Ruta • Languages in Peril - Talysh • Where Are You? • App Rev - Tandem • Book Look - Language Master Key • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Studying in Summer • Polyglot Events All Around The World - You Are Not Alone • Playing Games with Language • Spanish E-training – The 'Big Bang' Investment • Can a Language Die? • At the Cinema - La Casa del Fin de los Tiempos • Languages in Peril - Scottish Gaelic • Words in Your Mouth - Apple • Celebrations - Nag Panchami • Where Are You? • Book Look - Fluency Made Achievable: The Fluent Guide to Core Language Skills • At A Glance
Letter From The Editor - Sounds Like • How Do You Say It? - A look at sound notation systems • Of Pidgins and Creoles - A look at how some languages are born • Who Are You To Learn A Language? • At the Cinema - Dil Chahta Hai • Languages in Peril - Yumans on the Edge • Words in Your Mouth - Egg • Where Are You? • Book Look
Letter From The Editor - Breaking with Tradition • Are You Wasting Your Money on Language Classes? • Chatting in Languages Online - Part 2: Voice Chats • Why English Is Different Than Any Other Language • The Digital Language Collective • At the Cinema - Viva La Libertà • Languages in Peril - The Tribes of the Tamil-Kannada • Words in Your Mouth - Rice • Where Are You? • Book Look
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