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Tim Ferris: Learning a language....

This is a useful article about learning languages. Must read for course creators.


October 19, 2017



One thing I did with arabic was make sentence based flashcards, focusing on things I would potentially say and different gramatical structures. How to conjugate verbs in different forms, Irregular verb a, Irregular verb b, Irregular verb c, irregular verb pattern, verbal noun, present progressive, all while integrating that into things I would actually say. I also did it from Spanish, my second language which I consciously understand grammar of better, to take the shortcut of leaning on my previous grammar knowledge of the language.

But with all of this, a lot of the real learning comes from using it in tangible situations. I think I made more progress in a week in Cuba then I would have in the 3rd semester of college Spanish. Immersion works, but obviously, there are things that can do to augment that (and it also can not work if people just suck). If you like the blog, good.


Tim is part of Duolingo's board of advisors and I think an investor.


I would put this post in the same category as “Learn xxx in 30 days” i.e. a marketing ploy to get you to buy his product.


What are noun cases? In German, for example, “the” isn’t so simple. It might be der, das, die, dem, den and more depending on whether “the apple” is an object, indirect object, possessed by someone else, etc. Headaches galore. Russian is even worse. This is one of the reasons I continue to put it off.

Ok. Bottom line, some languages are not Spanish and may not be for everyone.


I find it interesting that he talked about certain features being deal killers. That's probably true if you desperately want to add one (or however many) more language to your repertoire and you're aren't sure what it should be, but surely if you want to learn a language because you love it or the culture behind it, you don't look at the language and go: "that's hard to pronounce, I should probably give up". I believe it was one of the criminals crucified with Jesus who said "Always look on the bright side of life (and language learning)".

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