Friday, November 01, 2019

Paul Taylor on "how to learn a language"

Paul Taylor, an Englishman, is fluent in French and Spanish, and his French has almost no accent at all. In the video below, he talks about how he got so good at those languages.

TL;DR version:

• Don't ask how to learn a language; ask why. Motivation matters.
• Work your ass off. Language-learning means effort.
• Don't be one of those mentally lazy expats who merely hangs around other expats and learns little to nothing—a point I've made repeatedly on this blog!
• Imitate the local accent to improve your accent.*

*Implied in this is that you have to make the effort to actually listen to how the natives pronounce their words. If you can't hear what's being said, you can't repeat it properly. I sat in a German class, years ago, with a woman who refused to listen to the professor, and she ended up blaming the prof for her own lack of progress in German. Idiot.

When the prof would say, "Ich habe...", she would say back, "Ike hah-bay..." Where the fuck did that come from? Was she retarded? Or just another mentally lazy person refusing to make an effort? Paul Taylor makes the point that "you can only master accents when you're young" is bullshit. Citing Johnny Depp in his role as Jack Sparrow, Taylor correctly notes that adult actors master different accents all the time. It's never too late to learn. It's just a matter of whether you have the willpower.

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