Monday, 18 January 2016

Connect words, connect the dots . . .

Words are not enough. Just knowing the words won’t make you able to use another language. And besides, going about the business of learning a language one word at a time is almost completely useless.

Witness Japanese where I know hundreds of words but cannot connect the dots. I may every separate part of a sentence but have no idea what the whole is about.

You see, there is a hell of a lot that you need to know about words in order to fit them together. And a single dictionary meaning doesn’t give you that. Therefore, from the word go, work with more than one word at a time.

Go for pairs of words, phrases, whole sentences at a gulp. Don’t always, or even usually, break them down into their components. That way you get a lot of extra associated input: grammar patterns, word co-locations, concordance, general usage etc.

Sit sentences from two languages side by side. Do it the way that Heinrich Schliemann did.

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