Posted on | September 19, 2008 | 5 Comments
As I have said in a previous post, many people expect everything free from the Internet, but yet they are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on books and materials on language learning.
Some publishers out there are therefore more than happy to take advantage of these people. They are confident that they can convince the general public into believing that they can really learn a language in … well … no time! Go into a book store and it will not be difficult to find books with titles like “Learn this language in 3 Weeks” or “Speak that language fluently in a day”. What amazes me more is that there are really people who would buy into this nonsense!
Still remember this fellow? Tim Ferriss posted in his blog a while ago an article “How to Learn Any Language in 1 Hour“, which ended up attracting thousands of readers. No, he did not mean to take it seriously. He was only trying out an experiment to show that a post without any meaningful content can still generate enormous hits. All you need is an attractive title.
Wake up people! No one can learn to speak a language completely from scratch in such a short time. Don’t be fooled by people who want to make money from us. Occasionally, I have heard people acquiring a language in 3-6 months, but only with intense concentration and effort in totally immersed environments. Often the languages they learn are somewhat related to their native languages. No, this fellow did not learn Icelandic in 1 week. Watch the clip closely. No matter how hard the editors try to conceal the fact, the fellow simply could not speak the language. Uttering a few rehearsed sentences does not mean much really.
Is there any language out there that is easy enough to learn in a short time? Well yes, there is one (if you consider it a real language) – Esperanto. I have heard people claiming that they learned to speak it in a week or so. To me the language is simply a joke. “We cannot speak English well, and we feel inferior”, say the Esperantists. “So, let’s make up a language and speak it so that it is ‘foreign’ to everyone, just to be fair!” Sorry, after a century or so, people don’t really buy into this initiative. Esperanto never takes off.
Esperanto only gives people a false sense of satisfaction so that they think they can really pick up a language very quickly. But then why don’t we go for even simpler ones, such as Toki Pona, which only consists of 120 words in its vocabulary. Everybody can really learn it in … no time!
Talking about constructed languages, I often need to learn many of them at work, sometimes several new ones in a single project, and I need to do it in … no time. Yes, they are called programming languages.
Do you really want to learn a language quick? Make one up yourself, then learn it in … no time.
Enough of my rant. Let’s hear what Koichi from Tofugu has to say on this topic.