Learn any Language

Classroom language learning is largely ineffective for several reasons. Here’s what I’ve learned about how we learn languages.

Learn any Language
Comparing modern language-learning methods to what's taught in school is like comparing an Olympic regime to gym class.
The cutting edge of language acquisition is being developed in online communities.
  • start with grammar
  • focus on speaking
  • learn by analysis
  • motivated by grades
What works
  • start with vocab
  • focus on input
  • learn through comprehension
  • motivated by survival
A modern language-learning stacks consists mainly of two things:
  1. Large amounts of native input you enjoy: TV, video games, movies. Fun content just at or beyond or comprehension level is perfect.
  1. A spaced repetition memory system: Anki, flashcards, Gold List
In my opinion the best curriculum right now for any language is https://refold.la/ which came out of the Japanese learning community.
The extremely steep learning curve required for Japanese motivated that community to become ruthlessly efficient.
The core concept of Refold or AJATT (All Japanese All The Time) is that learning occurs when there's just a single word you don't understand, but can deduce through context.
That's a +1 opportunity.
You maximize the +1 opportunities you have every day by:
  1. Learning to read.
  1. Learning to identify words in speech.
  1. Front-loading the ~1,000 most common vocab words.
  1. Consuming many hours of native content every day.
  1. "Mining" that content for new words which you add, in context, to your spaced-memorization system.
Humans are excellent at avoiding work and learning a language is a lot of work.
Humans are also excellent at acquiring new languages, but only when they have literally no other alternatives.
To be an efficient language learning you must create an environment of necessity.
Ways to accomplish this aka "trick" yourself into survival mode:
  1. Consume all content in your target language by default.
    1. Books, TV, movies, social media.
  1. Move as many aspects of your life into the target language as possible.
    1. Dating, location, job, school.
The more thoroughly you transition the ambient environment to the target language the more motivated you will be to learn and the easier it will be to get the number of input-hours required to truly see progress.
This can be accomplished from any country with an internet connection or avoided efficiently even when living in a country that speaks the language you want to learn.
At some point all of the above transitions from impossible to habitual. You're "studying" less than an hour a day but consuming 4+ hours of content. Learning the language is no longer a choice, it's a necessity.
A partial implementation of the above, even without going whole-hog down the immersion rabbit hole, will put you literal years ahead of the 90% of current learners still stuck in a curriculum that's a century out of date.
¡Buena Suerte!
Adapted from this Twitter thread:
Anthony Castrio

Written by

Anthony Castrio


    Thanks for reading 👋🏻
    I’m also tweeting at @AnthonyCastrio and running a community for bootstrapped founders at Indie Worldwide where I make curated introductions between founders based on their revenue and goals.
    See you there,