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First Step to Learn Foreign Language

Once upon a time, there was a Japanese old man who had not engaged in much physical activity. He could not bend over and touch his toes. Then, he decided to gain the flexibility without putting stress on his body. He put together a stack of paper, thousands of sheets, that reached up to his knees. Then, he bent over and touched the top of the stack with his fingertips, holding the position for a little while, which was not at all hard to do. The next day, he removed two sheets from the stack and did the same thing.

Every day from then on, he removed two more sheets of paper from the stack. The difference from one day to the next was so slight as to be practically imperceptible, so he never had any problem bending over, touching the top sheet, and holding the position for a minute or two. After many months, the stack was considerably lower, until there was no paper at all left, and he could easily touch his toes. He had achieved his goal, with no strain, no pain, and no stress on his system. All it took was patience and perseverance.

Do you get the point?

Yes, learning a foreign language is much similar as the effort doing by that old man. The principle is set your goal, develop a plan to go about reaching it, and do a little something every day that will move you a further towards your goal.

The simple example is like this. To get by in a language in most situations, we need a vocabulary about a thousand words. That sounds like a big number, doesn’t it? But, how if we learn three new words a day? It will be really easy, right? How if we do so in a year? We will have acquired a vocabulary of almost 1100 words without stress or undue pressure.

Countless people know that’s true. But how only a few people do it? The answer, of course, is that they do not persist: they lack discipline. The next question is

how to be discipline but still have some fun?

Tomorrow (3/28) will be my tenth day learning three languages at the same time (English, Chinese, and German). It was very challenging learning three languages a day, but I felt it was really fun. I tried to add at least three words a day, subscribing on learning Chinese and German website. I made simple and beautiful flash cards, therefore I can review my vocabulary wherever and whenever.

I think if we can learn creatively, we will not realize that we actually learn something. I sometimes feel that what I do is playing. I enjoy learning foreign language very much, especially Chinese.

I like learning English by reading something that interest me. I like reading news and gossip related to actress or actor I like the most (hahahah… :P). For example, I like Natalie Portman the most. I like her first movie, Leon: The Professional. I browsed biography about her and his movie. I found she was very incredible person as student and as superstar. I was very curious about her. Then, I realized the more I browsed information about her, the more I learnt English (not intentionally, of course :P).

Learning German was even more interesting. German language is very simple, especially the pronunciation. Unlike English, we do not waste every single letter in German language. For example, die Kusine (cousine) we say “dee Ku-zee-neh”, but in English we say ku-zin, which we waste “e”. Some of words in Germany is similar with English. For example:

der Apfel (the Apple)

das Haus (the House)

The challenge in learning German is I need to memorize definite article of each word. Die, der, and Das are the same is the in English. But Die is used for feminine, for example die Mutter (the mother), die Tochter (the daughter), die Blume (the flower), die Katze (the cat). Der is used for masculine, for example der Vater (the father), der Sohn (the sohn), der Onkel (the uncle), der Baum (the tree). Das is used for neutral, for example das Arbeitscheft (the workbook), das Auto (the car). In German, we write noun by capital letter.

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