You need to learn a foreign language – and here you come to the bookstore in search of textbooks, recorded courses, looking for private teachers… And don’t know what is good and what is bad. Because you have no criteria, no measure. But if there is no proper setup in advance, one thing remains: to learn from mistakes and to comfort himself «afterward» that the negative experience – too experience. Here if life was not so short…

So before giving specific advice, I’ll try to give you the criterion, the General principle. As soon as you take it, you can easily Orient in the sea of the proposed benefits and services.

Start with Proverbs.

Russian athletes found out that in Tibet there is a monastery where the monks during one of their religious holiday run 80 kilometers. Athletes interested in this achievement and sent a delegation to learn from the experience. The monks were asked to demonstrate their art. The Tibetans did not at first understand what they want. Why run, when there is no holiday? Because usually they run to the place where the festival is held. But guests insisted. Had to agree to this meaningless thing. And ran. See our sports figures: here is one monk is running, running and suddenly sits down on the curb, breathing hard, then the other. Come and ask: «What are you sitting? You’re a kilometer does not run?» And he answers: «Tired». Simple Oriental man. Tired – sat down to rest. Doesn’t understand that you can run without a goal, and only time and distance – for the sake of running. In short, no one ran, all out of the race. The delegation left with nothing. But then again, this was a Buddhist holiday, and again the monks ran to the scene of the day and easily ran the 80 km And the thing is that they did not count the kilometers and not clocked. They thought about each other. Running the festival for them is a part of the festive ritual. They run, say, along the lake, holding my hands behind my head and read a specific set of prayers. (For the details do not answer). Then round the mountain, read other prayers, holding my hands something different. And so on. So they don’t get tired. In short, they don’t think about running, and think about the feast. Running for them is a tool and the celebration purpose.

What has this story to learn a foreign language? The most direct. You begin to read the textbook – and immediately feel tired – like the monk who sat on the sidelines, not having run a kilometer. Why? Are you lazy? No, you are not to blame is a normal reaction of the human psyche. Because language, like running, is a tool not a goal. When you are reading anything, you should be interested in the language and the content of the text. About language when reading you forget. The textbook also made so that the language in it – the aim and the content – means the content in so far as. So your tiredness and reluctance to read such a text was a protective reaction of the psyche trying to invade it, and turn everything upside down.

Another example. You are a teacher, you group. You need to get this man now stood up and walked across the room. Could you ask him to «Arise, please, and walk around the room». He will grant your request, but it will be uncomfortable and will affect the gait. However, you can say: «Be so kind, please open the door.» The result is the same: he would get up and walk, but will feel very natural, uninhibited. In the second case the door is opened — the goal is to get up and walk — remedy. In the first case to get up and walk becomes a goal, an end in itself, but it is unnatural. This tool has lost its purpose, a tool that is forced to be.

It’s the same with language. I will tell you: «the Table has». You say, «so what? What’s next?» In itself the phrase «the table is» does not make sense, but only the literal (lexical and grammatical) value. Meaning it can only be found in specific situations. For example, the master, after fixing the table, said, «the Hostess that the table is!» The meaning of this phrase: «Pay the money». Or hostess tells the guests: «the Table is!» Meaning: «Please to the table ready.» Or in a conversation somewhere in the country: «You don’t know, the neighbors came?» «Yes here, the table stands». Meaning: «the Neighbors arrived.» The value of one phrase, and the meaning changes depending on the situation. Value — the means and goal — sense. We are not at the level of values, and at the level of meaning. Only an idiot can, out on the street, to call what he sees: «a Tree grows. It’s big. This birch. The leaves are green. The cat runs to the tree. The cat is gray. She runs quickly», etc. You know of course, the style of a traditional textbook.

The trouble with traditional learning is that the language is given as an end in itself and not as a means. On the value level, not at the level of meaning. Here it is, the necessary criterion.

So reading or listening, we offer you should be first and foremost interesting in itself, and the spoken language you need to master in live situational communication.

You have learned to read in a foreign language: read and understand all at once — as in Russian. But you turn on German radio and don’t understand. Trying to talk German and I can’t say anything. What’s the matter?

Imagine a language in the form of tables. Nightstand three drawers. The first box — speaking. The second listening. The third reading, the understanding of the text. You only think that a single language, because in Russian you say, and understand, and read. But in the Russian language, without noticing it, you use different drawers.

Hence the conclusion: what you need to do to learn to read the language? Answer: you need to read, and as much as possible. To listen? Listen! (If you are already free to read, then after a couple of months you get used to understand the transmission of television and radio.) What you need to say? — To speak! It’s like learning to swim: no matter how much you didn’t practice swimming strokes on land, to learn something you still have in the water. And still correctly fail. If you teach language without living conversational situations without live communication in that language, then you learn to swim without water, learn to drive a car without a car.

That means live chat, live situation? Alive communication becomes when the language therein is a means for solving any problem in life, is the bearer of meaning. When language becomes an end in itself (as, for example, in SAUJANA by heart the text or dialogue). Language is not objective, language — means. Realizing this, you will understand the main thing you need for learning or teaching language.

So, since «boxes» (speaking, understanding, reading) are different, neither translation or paraphrase of the text, nor the fulfillment of grammar exercises, nor learned by heart the dialogues, nor audiokursy heard or read in the language of the book — nothing will teach you to speak, except for the speaking in situations at the level of meaning. (So, incidentally, is an obvious deception is audio courses promising you fluency.) If you don’t have the skill to swim in the water, all the pre-learned instantly disappears in a real situation, you confuse everything and you will flounder as if nothing was taught. You will not have time to think, so I’ll just put the predicate in such a form, and now the subject in this form. Even if you have a very long «trained» on all of these forms, but it works only as long as you don’t miss them until you see the language as an end in itself. But you have stolen in a foreign country handbag, you explain it to a policeman — and then you have turned away from language, you have important meaning. As soon as you turn away «all wind up in the oblonskys ‘house».

There are many different methods of language learning. Here and hypnosis, song and dance, and by Association with Russian words, etc., etc. What is there not! But it’s all different methods of presentation of new material. It is half the battle, even less than half. Then have to go the activation of this material in the conversation. Not, most methods stop at the presentation, which is then only «fix» I repeat, bison. They stop, a stop there where it is necessary to start. In fact, all these methods are only varieties of traditional method based on the passive assimilation of certain material, on cramming. It is a tradition of the medieval monastic schools, where the main task was to memorize the sacred texts (and in Russia — in Church, in Europe — in Latin). The teacher read, the students chanted in a singsong voice. Planted them to each other in the back, desks in close to prevent any possibility of communication. And survived to the present day. But a living language so are impossible to master! You need to see each other, can move freely and communicate.

Everything I tell you is based on emotional-semantic method of Igor Schechter. This method gives, in addition to the presentation of the material, it will intensify. You already know that it is not just about one of the methods with a specific set of techniques (which, of course, is — and a fine and detailed technology teacher you need to learn), we are talking about a proper, human, humane approach, the only possible installation. The traditional method is «against the grain». Remember the school. Even «soon» language in the traditional method, you still get to communicate with foreigners — and then life douchivat you by the method of Schechter.

So, learn to speak either directly communicating with foreigners (especially good if you learned to read, that is, mastered the language passively), or finding a teacher who owns colloquial, emotional-semantic method.

Choosing an instructor, try to avoid the layman (which most, wherever he worked). Before you a layman, if instead of building the spoken situation, it makes you perform tasks at the level of values, ie, just «drives» you through the tutorial. As we have said, it’s unnatural, so he is forced to be violent. Instead of constantly saying you compliments, encouraging communication, he makes comments, glad your every mistake, behaving according to the scheme: «I — head, you — fool». (Do comments and rate it, if we don’t learn the language, and just get used to it? The doctor did not raise the assessments of its patients. If anyone can put the scores so it is the physician and teacher.) Before you a layman, if he agrees to lead a group of more than 15 persons (in these conditions to organize the conversation impossible). If you go to class without original materials (Newspapers, magazines, books, radio shows, etc.), limited to textbooks. If he shows his fatigue, illness, bad mood, talking about their difficulties. If you are sitting at their desks to each other in the head. And so on. All this, as you know, flows from those same two rules: language is a tool, not a goal, and language should be taught intensively. If the teacher does not understand, he does not know the basics of their profession. Because language proficiency is not a profession, language can know anyone. And just «drive» students textbook — it does not need to learn and minutes.

What to do if you can’t change your teacher? If you are reluctant to learn the language the traditional method? It’s best just to read the language and listen to the transmission, waiting for an opportunity to plunge into the language environment. I do not advise you to study independently in various textbooks and courses (you figure out why).

It is also important to understand that language consists not of words and grammar, and phrases of revolutions — from how and what they say in this case, for example, the Germans. Germans will say: «I’m in a hurry», he will say «I have it too hastily». Do not say: «In seven years I went to school», and say: «seven years I went to school.» And so the whole language. Therefore, learning words separately useless. Remember to momentum. That’s the main thing. (Once, as a child, I believed that we should learn the Latin alphabet — and all this is foreign language. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that in a foreign language not only letters, but the words are quite different! Next, and equally strong insight was that not only the words of others, but in General everything else, it’s «not in Russian».) All grammatical forms are placed on several pages. The entire grammar can be told in 3-4 classes. Words — is not a problem. Lay out a list of 10 words, written in the context. Do you remember in 10 minutes? Most people with average memory can memorize 100 or even few hundred words a day. We are talking, usually use about 3 000 words. Don’t need any hypnosis or special associative techniques — impossible to pull words out of context, to link them to another language. It only does harm. So, the problem is not the grammar and memorizing words, the problem is the correct usage in each case. In this sense, the language should be taught all my life is an endless process. In order to speak well (active language skills). Well to understand it (passive knowledge) can learn very quickly (in a few months, for example, to be able to read).

But the most important advice: the language should be taught intensively. Give two comparisons. First, the language is a pile of bricks. You gradually take out of it, bricks and neatly stacked elsewhere. When you choose all the bricks – the language of the learned. The second comparison: the language is an ice slide, which you need to run up. In the first case (a pile of bricks) language appears as a certain amount of material as a subject, as an end in itself. You gradually learn and it does not matter what mode, with what intensity: importantly, you need to loop through all the bricks. If 100 bricks, 100 classes. No matter, every day or once a week. This, of course, wrong idea. In the second case (ice slide) important intensity. Ran quickly up the hill – all, your tongue. If not, you’ll move out. The result of 100 classes can be zero (and then it generally does not matter the number of classes – once you slide in the same place). It is possible to gently touch the door is closed and it will remain closed. Is it possible, putting together all these efforts, once rude to push it and it opens. Language is not studied as a body of material, to the language used – they used to polzovatsya. (So I try to say «learn the language» — to make it his own, and not to «learn the language»). Here you need to observe a certain mode – just as it is observed in sports training or medical procedures. Therefore, before proceeding, consider whether you will be able to give language at least two hours daily. And not only to spend time, but also to expand this side of his soul, to make the language a part of your life? In other words, to the language you now? And don’t say, «Yes, of time, of course, not enough… But at least a little… better than nothing…» the fact of the matter is that not better. You’ll just slip in one place. But you can learn the language stages, cycles. For example, a month or two intensely immersed with the head, a month – a break. The development of the language must not be stretched. Language cannot be learned in 8 years (the usual period of fruitless study of language: 6 years of school plus 2 years of College and zero output), but you can learn in a year. If you started to learn the language and scored all quickly forgotten, faded. If you have already mastered the language, he is not forgotten, holds himself. When the break is weakening only language skills, but he recovers quickly with a new practice.

You are a little bit has launched a language – and you want to repeat it before starting a new dive, a new cycle. Go again all over again. Don’t do this! First, it’s boring. (Boredom is the same – an indication that you’re going the wrong way). Secondly, language has no beginning and no end: he was a ruler, and a ball. So you need all the time to try to grab it in General: do not study, and to get used to. Otherwise you’ll spin. Than to repeat the behinds, it’s time to run forward. Thus, you the backsides repeat (because we’re dealing with the ball). For example, you read a book with a dictionary. Better read more than to try to better learn to read. Than to cram the word encountered on the first page, it is better to read new 50 pages and, having met this word several times, involuntarily to remember it. And many other words!

How to determine what you already ran into an ice mound (that is, mastered the spoken language)? You yourself will feel it. It is not the number of classes and not the quantity worked out of material. Should be a qualitative shift. You suddenly realize that you already speak without thinking about how to say it, forgetting about grammar. You no longer think first in Russian, then to say it in German, you immediately think German. And when you say something, you immediately understand German and don’t translate into Russian at first. Similarly when reading. This turning point (when the Russian language is no longer needed, is left alone German) and is an indicator that you have achieved the result. Different people have this fracture occurs at different times depending on the characteristics of the character. Didn’t say floundering, and suddenly spoke, swam! (Again: what is there to rate? For a particular character? It’s a natural process. Not worth it, as they say, pull the rose petals to make it grow faster).

Many concerned about the problem of pronunciation. «Do you put the accent?» Turn on Russian radio in English. Terrible pronunciation! You immediately distinguishable from the Bi-bi-si. On bi-Bi-si the pronunciation of our speakers mimic humorous programs when you need to represent the «voice of Moscow». And these people pronunciation «set», and didn’t do it one year. For months they held a mirror in front of your mouth and watch where this sound is language, where the jaw … Is a unpleasant task to anything nor led.

Live, for example, in Moscow two foreigners (e.g., Georgian) for 10 years. One says in Russian with a charming accent, the other without. Depends on it from a special language hearing (no music, namely the language). Someone has it, someone not. You should not worry. You will speak with an accent — so what? Most unpleasant of all sounds just «delivered» pronunciation because it is artificial, not individually. So really no one speaks. You need to find your manner of speech — and then you closest to good pronunciation.

There is one important skill: get used to everything you hear in a foreign language, myself, «duplicate» — as if to say, moving language. At first you won’t catch nothing, «jump», and backup on. Then you will have time to duplicate even a continuous fluent speech, even the radio. Can first try to do it in Russian, turning on a radio or TV. So, obezianka, you will learn good pronunciation, and get the proper intonation and note the rpm.

Sometimes people believe they are incapable of language. Some add: «I’m still in school the teacher said». What she had to say? She bungles? There are no people incapable of language. This is not music. You say in Russian? So, with brain centers responsible for language, you have everything in order. Age also plays no role. As we have said, it’s not in memory, not in memorizing the material and getting used to the language. It’s just a common prejudice that a language should be learned in childhood. The majority of people learns language in adulthood. No age restrictions here. The main thing — do not be afraid to jump in the water.