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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Hacking French

Allow me to direct you to someone who I think has found two of the essential ingredients for learning a second language:  a positive attitude and empathy.  Benny the Irish Polygot is a Global Nomad who believes that he has found the secret to quick and easy second-language acquisition.  His site is called Fluent in 3 Months and, while I cannot vouch for his method, I believe that his enthusiasm and open-mindedness are key to his success.  
I firmly believe that there is an important link between opening your mind to a culture and a people and successfully learning another language.  If you don’t like the people that you ostensibly wish to communicate with, your motivation and, ultimately, your goal is compromised from the start.  

For example, if you don’t like English-speakers (be they Brits, Americans, or Australians) -  in fact, if you have a bad attitude toward the Anglo-Saxon world in general - you have created an enormous wall between you and them that will spill over into your efforts to learn English.  
Benny has an excellent post here about his experiences studying French in Paris.  He arrived overflowing with goodwill and a desire to learn which disappeared in a few short months.  Instead of blaming the Parisians, Benny took a good hard look at himself and decided to change his approach (among other things he discovered the System D.)  He called it “starting with a clean slate and opening your mind.”
If you are just starting to learn another language or, if you have struggled for years to master one, a good place to start is by taking inventory of your attitudes and prejudices toward the people who speak your target language.  
Then sweep the halls of your mind clean and begin again.

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