My Language Learning Algorithm

Back in May 2001 - I described my language learning algorithm which I present here with some modifications only to make it nicer to read. Today - after more than two years of Norsk Experiment - my ideas about language learning are richer and this algorithm no longer presents my most modern attitude.

1. Pronunciation and phonetic transcription

(Phonetic transcription is a spelling system with special characters for writing the pronunciation of words.)

Get a Fornish-Fornish dictionary with phonetic transcription. (Fornish stands for any foreign language.) Get materials about Fornish pronunciation (a course-book with Fornish pronunciation plus audio-tapes). I would start with pronunciation. Pronunciation would be my first object of interest.

I could learn without pronunciation at all, but then I would not speak Fornish at all. I would start speaking only after acquainting myself with correct pronunciation. I don't want to begin with building bad habits. I would learn proper pronunciation from the start.

If there is a phonetic system for Fornish pronunciation, I have to know about it and learn to use it at the beginning of my study. I learn every new word together with its phonetic transcription. I keep this habit all my life.

2. Sentences rather than single words

Get a course-book for zero beginners that it is meant for self-study. I would read the course-book page by page paying attention to everything. I learn whole sentences from the coursebook rather than single words. I add these sentences to my SuperMemo collection. (SuperMemo is a computer program that I had used for many years to learn English and German.)

I build my grammar knowledge on the basis of sentences. For every piece of grammatical knowledge I have at least seven sentences which demonstrate it. Grammar through examples - it is the essence of my algorithm.

3. Reading in Fornish

At some point I start reading simplified Fornish texts (if they exist). Later I start reading real Fornish books - not simplified. As I read in Fornish I look up words in a Fornish-Fornish dictionary. Again I focus on whole sentences. I add a number of example sentences to my SuperMemo collection for every word that I learn.

Key points

My decision to learn another foreign language

After I wrote this algorithm I felt a desire to start learning another foreign language. I wanted to test it - I wanted to learn like that.

For some time I was looking for a language to learn and then I finally chose Norwegian. There is an interesting anectode which explains my choice.

Why I chose Norwegian rather than some other language

I once told my brother that I could teach any language from the zero level. I told him that I was going to put an advertisement in a newspaper saying that I teach any language from the zero level.

The idea is that when a client comes to me and asks me to teach them some exotic language, I can simply start learning that language, and after some time I'll be able to teach it to my client.

I said it very seriously and I meant it. My brother asked me to teach him Norwegian. I agreed and that's how I chose Norwegian.

My learning method