Rapid Foreign Language Learning: Grammar Audit

Language LearningTim Ferriss uses the following sentences to rapidly become familiar with the grammar of a new language – it’s a way to quickly pick up on patterns and quirks which usually would take you a much longer period of study to notice. The principal is that it exposes you to the majority of grammatical structures (direct object, indirect object, noun cases, possessives etc.). I tried it with Mandarin the other day and immediately a few things clicked into place. Get a native speaker to translate these phrases for you and see for yourself:

  • The apple is red.
  • It is John’s apple.
  • I give John the apple.
  • We give him the apple. 
  • He gives it to John.
  • She gives it to him. 
  • Is the apple red?
  • The apples are red.
  • I must give it to him.
  • I want to give it to her.
  • I’m going to know tomorrow.
  • (I have eaten the apple.)
  • I can’t eat the apple.
  • I must eat.
  • I want to eat.
  • I’m going to eat tomorrow.
  • I can’t eat.

MM has posted about the value of learning a foreign language, but there’s no doubt that it requires patience and hardwork. Deconstructing (perhaps as part of your DiSSS approach) these select phrases should give you a boost. Ideal for long haul flights to countries where you don’t speak the language!

Soon I’ll do a post on auxiliary verbs and how they have saved me from my awful memory countless times when learning foreign languages.