One Simple Method to Learn Any Language | Scott Young & Vat Jaiswal | TEDxEastsidePrep

One Simple Method to Learn Any Language | Scott Young & Vat Jaiswal | TEDxEastsidePrep

Translator: Alina Siluyanova
Reviewer: Denise RQ Scot Young: We want to start off
with a question for you. By a show of hands, how many of you
have put in time and effort into learning another language? Maybe you took
a high school Spanish class, or maybe you took
a lot of Rosetta Stone, but you can’t confidently speak
that language right now. Vat Jaiswal: OK. That’s most of you here. Some of you are raising
both of your hands. So, we’ve tried learning
a few languages ourselves, we’re going to talk about it in a minute. But let’s talk about what is the problem, what is the main issue
that is holding everybody back from learning languages. Could it be that you’re using
the wrong program of study, and if you were to use
a perfect program or the application, then you’d be able to learn the language? SY: Well, here the track record
isn’t too good. Out of the 1,000 Americans who responded
to the General Social Survey, only 7 claimed that they could speak
another language very well, and had actually learned it in school. And if you consider self-study programs,
like Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur, well, they can work some of the time,
but they have another problem: huge drop out rates. [NFLC], at the University of Maryland did a study that took
an enthusiastic group of volunteers and found that only 6% put in
more than 100 hours with the program, which is far less than
what you’d need using these programs to become fluent in any language. VJ: OK, well, maybe then the problem is that you don’t live in the country
that uses this language, and if you were to move there,
you’d be able to learn it. SY: Here I have to agree with you, Vat. Living in the country that speaks
the language, definitely helps. It provides motivation
and an opportunity for immersion. But it’s not the answer
to all of your problems. If you go to the country
and you don’t yet speak the language, what are you going to do? Are you going to rely on other expats
and locals who speak English to help you to get by? And that’s going
to create a bubble of English, it is going to isolate you
from immersing yourself. So, we know an extreme example. We know of an American businessman
who went to Korea, married a Korean woman,
had children in Korea, lived in Korea for 20 years, still couldn’t have
a decent conversation in Korean. So, living in the other country helps,
but it is not a silver bullet that will answer
all of your problems on its own. VJ: OK, well, finally maybe the problem
is that you’re simply too old, and you should’ve tried
learning the language as a kid because kids learn
the languages faster, right? SY:This is actually a pervasive myth. Steven Brown of Einstein University and Jennifer Larson-Hall
of Qiushi University reviewed the literature and found adults actually learn languages faster
than children in the short run. It’s only when we talk about reaching native-like levels
of pronunciation and grammar where children start to show
an upper hand over an adult. So, definitely, if you want to just
be able to communicate with people, have conversations, there is no reason you can’t learn
a second language at any age. VJ: If those are not the core issues,
what is the core issue? We have a completely different hypothesis, and to explain this concept I want you to look
at this image of the ocean. Now, if you look at the water,
you’re going to see 2 distinct zones: zone at the bottom
where the waves are breaking, an the zone at the top
where the water is relatively calm. Now, I want you to imagine
you’re standing on the shore, and you want to swim out into the ocean. When you first start
swimming out into the ocean, you ARE going to be in this first zone
where the waves are breaking. And swimming in this zone
is incredibly difficult, you feel this incredible resistance, the waves come crushing down on you, and they constantly try
to push you back to the shore. However, if you were to push through
this zone and get to the second zone, suddenly, swimming becomes a lot easier and more importantly,
the waves are not trying to push you back, you’re no longer feel
this incredible resistance. So, we believe that language learning
works very similar to this. When you first start learning a language, you’re going to be in this first zone which we call ‘the zone of fear’
or ‘the zone of frustration’, because this is where you fear
using the language, this is where you fear making mistakes, this is where you fear
embarrassing yourself. And learning a language
in this zone is very difficult: the waves represent this negative feedback and this constantly tries
to push you back to the shore. However, if you were
to push past this zone and get to the second zone
where the waters are calmer, suddenly language learning
becomes a lot easier, and a lot more fun. Mind you, I’m not saying
that you’re perfect when you reach the second zone, or maybe you only know a few words,
but you’re able to use them confidently, maybe you’re able to have
some simple conversations. And language only goes
from being always frustrating to now being rewarding,
most of the time. So, the core issue, we believe,
that a lot of the people have is that people get stuck
in this zone of fear and frustration for longer than they have to, and for some people, forever. And if all you see is negative feedback, it’s very hard to motivate yourself
to learn further and improve yourself, and learn the language
that you really want to learn. So, ideally, you’d use a different method, a method that allows you
to get past this zone very quickly and very efficiently, so you can get to the part
where language learning is fun and easy as quickly as you can. SY: We believe we have this method,
a method that cuts through the waves and gets you to the easier part
of language learning as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s very simple. Don’t speak in English. And, that might sound
a little obvious or simplistic, but it’s actually really powerful. When you force yourself to speak
the language you’re trying to learn, and you learn words
and phrases by necessity, not the order it comes up in the textbook That means you automatically learn
the most frequent vocabulary and the most important words
for your situation. Next, because you don’t know
many words and phrases, you’re going to overuse what you do know. This results in effects
psychologists call overlearning which allows you to access
that information automatically. You don’t need to get
your tongue tight or hesitating when you’re using
basic words and phrases. And finally, because you’re
not allowed to speak in English you’re going to easily develop
conversational work-arounds to handle situations
that are above your level. That is going to be
from learning simple phrases like: “What does this mean?”
and “How do you say this? in the language, relatively early on, to being able to efficiently use things
like Google Translator and dictionaries to integrate new words and phrases
into your conversations while you’re having them. VJ: So how do we know
that this method works? Well, we know that this method works
because we’ve tried it for ourselves. So, last year Scott and I
did an experiment. But we tried to learn
four different languages, and we went to four different countries to learn these languages over a year. And we used the same no-English rule
to learn the languages. So, first we went to Spain
to learn Spanish over 3 months, then we went to Brazil
to learn Portuguese over 3 months, then over to mainland China
to learn Mandarin over 3 months, and finally over to Korea
to learn Korean over 3 months. And we found that this
no-English rule worked incredibly well. As a matter of fact, near the end
of our travels in each country, we were confidently able
to have conversations with native speakers pretty much about any subject, and going by our daily lives, using the language
that we were trying to learn. So we actually have a short video
that we would like to show you that captures the kind of progress
that we were able to make using this no English rule
just under 3 months for each country. So, take a look. (Video) SY: This might seem a little bit extreme. After all, wouldn’t it be a lot easier
to speak some English when you’re trying to learn the language even if it is not quite as fast
as this no-English rule? We actually believe
that this is a misconception. And to argue that why
it is a misconception, I’d like to reference
an experience that I had. You see, years before
we did this challenge, I had a different opportunity
to learn a second language. I was in the university
and I had an opportunity to study abroad for a year in France. And like this trip, I was very eager
to learn the local language. I bought books, I downloaded podcasts, I really wanted
to become fluent in French. The only difference
that I had no specific rule against speaking in English. I figured, “I’ll go there and I’ll speak
as much English as I need to, and I’ll just try
to practice French whenever I can.” And after a year of living in France, and pushing myself
to study every single day, I did get to a point where
I could have a conversation, but it was never easy,
it always felt difficult, it always felt like I was
a little out of place. And contrast that to that
of my more recent experience in Spain. Once again, we have
the motivation and opportunity, but this time
we have the no-English rule. From the very first day we came to Spain, we decided we were only
going to speak in Spanish. And, as you can probably imagine, with limited Spanish skills
it was very difficult in the beginning. We had to communicate to each other almost exclusively through
our dictionaries for these first few days. But after 2 weeks something changed, it started to get a bit easier. After a month even easier. And by the third month
we were in Spain, it’d become so easy, that living our lives
entirely in Spanish was automatic. We didn’t have to think
about studying or practicing, it was completely invisible in our lives. And what’s more,
after just 3 months in Spain, our Spanish, both of our Spanish,
was much better than my French was after a year of living in France
and deliberately studying it. And so, when you’re evaluating
the difficulty of a method, particularly in learning languages, it’s not really fair to look at that
initial sliver of difficulty because you have to look
at how much effort you’re going to be putting in
not just in the beginning, but day after day, month after month in order to finally being able
to learn this language. And what we found is not even just
that the no English rule is faster, but that when you take it
over this longer view, it is actually easier
than any other method we’ve tried for learning a language. VJ: And I’d like to speak about
another misconception that a lot of people have is that you’d somehow be able
to completely avoid making mistakes when you first start learning a language. And that’s simply not true. Actually making mistakes is very good
because it means you’re using the language and eventually it helps you
to gain the confidence that you need to speak the language. When Scott and I
were doing this challenge, we made mistakes every day
especially in the beginning, everything we said
was wrong, but that’s OK. And in China and in Korea, because Chinese and Korean
are so much harder than the European languages
we attempted to learn, we slipped up and broke
the no English rule a couple of times as well,
but it didn’t matter because it is not about making mistakes, how many mistakes you’re making, it is more about that each time
you make a mistake you try again. So, remember that the whole goal
of this process and this method is to push past this zone
of frustration and fear so you can get to the part where language learning
becomes fun and easy. Ideally, the way you’d do this is you’d move to the country
that speaks this language and go 100% immersion from the first day and commit to the no English rule. But obviously, that’s a bit extreme and a lot of you here
might not have the opportunity to do that. But I’d like to point out
that the beauty of the no English rule is that it doesn’t have to be 100%
no English all the time with everybody. It can also work in a limited context. So let me give you an example. If you’re trying to learn Spanish and you have a co-worker
or colleague that speaks Spanish, maybe you commit to the no English rule
every time you see this person. So, every time you’re going to see them
you only commit to speaking in Spanish. So if you were to bump in them
at the water cooler and you want to make small talk, and you want to say
– let’s say you were busy at work – and you want to say:
“Oh, I’m so busy today,” it is OK to pull out your dictionary,
and translate the entire sentence. You don’t have to feel ready to say this, the goal is to just try and attempt. And what this really helps you to do is that it helps you out
with two really important things. The first one: it helps you to remove the ambiguity
of which language should you use, because if with this co-worker,
let’s say, you can speak in Spanish, and you can speak in English,
obviously you’re going to default to speaking in English
because it is so much easier. But by committing
to the no English rule, you’re saying: “Every time I see this person
I know it is practice time, there is no doubt in my mind
that now I have to speak Spanish even if I have to pull out my dictionary.” And the second thing it helps you out with is it helps you develop a habit
of speaking the language even at the very low level of ability. This really helps you out to build
the confidence that you eventually are going to need
when you’ll start speaking this language to the higher level of ability. SY: So you’ve heard about our challenge. Now we’d like to issue you one. And no, we’re not asking you
to sell out your stuff and go to live in a far away country. We’re going to ask you
to do something a lot simpler but if you follow through on it,
it will still be very effective if you want to finally start having
conversations in that language you’d been learning all your life. Just 3 steps. Step 1: Find one person. It could be a native speaker
of this language, or it could be another language learner, it could be someone you already know, a friend, a colleague, a spouse, or it could be someone you find online. There are services like and livemocha to find conversation partners online. So if you can’t find
this person in your life right now, there are easy tools
for finding them online. Step 2: Commit to
the no English rule with this person. Every time you see them
just speak in this language that you’re trying to learn. Tell them that, you know,
even though you’re not too great at the language yet,
you are going to have to use Google Translator and dictionary
a lot in the beginning, that’s OK. Step 3: Start speaking. Once again, it is not something
you have to be perfect at. You might slip up and break
the “no English” rule, just try again. Pull out your phone,
download the Google Translator app, you can type in the whole sentences
if you don’t feel comfortable yet speaking the language. The goal is to get you to start speaking, to start building
that knowledge of the words, and start practicing those core phrases. What we’re hoping is
that by showing you this method we’re encouraging you
to get started with something, not to be perfect,
and maybe even today to decide to find that one person
and start this rule, and finally start speaking that language. Chinese have an expression: (Chinese) “A good start
is a half of success,” which means:
“A good start is a half of success.” (Applause)

100 thoughts to “One Simple Method to Learn Any Language | Scott Young & Vat Jaiswal | TEDxEastsidePrep”

  1. Come on now everyone. Lets be really honest. Most people don't learn another language regardless of method because
    1. It involves WORK and that means effort and time.
    2.A nice idea to impress yourself or others but will you use it?? Probably not.
    You need a reason to learn languages.
    If you really wanted to learn a language you would stop every other activity and get on with it. Most people do too much,think too much,are too busy and don't really need to speak another language. If you are lazy minded its not going to happen easily.

  2. I do not recommend Google Translator or any online machine translator while learning languages as they work well for French, Spanish and English, but not for other languages

  3. These guys are full of pop. I'm a native Spanish speaker and I'm fluent in Brazilian Portugues. My wife is from Brazil. They don't speak either language even remotely well

  4. Will playing Counter-Strike go or other communicative game from a Chinese server without speaking English help or would it be to advanced to jump into? secondly dose learning the alphabets and written part help understand verbal communication?

  5. Oh, several simple sentences being spoken out from your mouth by you guys can prove that you can speak a foreign languange…LOL! You know what, 我唔埋单!

  6. I will try this to learn Hindi, I need to learn it to communicate with my in laws. Thanks for the video I hope it works for me .

  7. I have to say their Korean sounds very good for 12 weeks of learning! Natural and pretty good pronunciation .. especially compared to many people who have lived here in Korea for years and years..!

  8. Hello everyone!
    From brasil!
    I'm learning English and I need someone native speaker in English, for practice with me. I can help you with Portuguese.

  9. great motivation for me guys as I stopped my Spanish and regretted that I made a grave mistake of not having a spanish woman I wanted and quit. 35 years later and I am using your method. thanks

  10. This isn't practical for most of the world's population. We can't just pack up and move to a country whose language we want to learn. How about a method for learning a language for those who can't travel to that country??????

  11. Its the same for everything. Getting on stage, riding a bike, driving a car, etc. You just have to do it.

  12. I'd been a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter day saints or commonly known as the Mormons. During my assignment to mindanao, i learned Cebuano language in just One and a half month. Bisayan people noticed my fast improvement in Cebuano and these are the techniques i used to learn to speak Cebuano quickly. First, I really didn't care about the grammar. I set my mind that the more mistakes I make the better i would learn the language. Second, i listened very carefully to the native speakers, i studied out in my mind how they pronounce words and how they put the words together. 3rd, I would use the phrases and new words i heard over and over until it became natural to me. 4th, I would always ask members and investigators to correct my speaking. I learned a lot from them and last but not the least, I would always talk to children. Children are the best teachers, it is because they will not make fun of you when you make mistakes and that they will give you honest feedback.

    P.s. Learn the vocabularies and phrases you need in your everyday conversation.

  13. I am a beginner of Spanish, I can speak Chinese and English if anybody can teach me Spanish as a partner, or I can teach the Chinese and English

  14. I agree with both of you a hundred percent this is the first time that I see that this is going to works thank you both so very much!

  15. As a professional FOREIGN LANGUAGE COACH and having travelled the world I will say this, the reason why people don't learn another language is:

    1. The person cannot commit seriously.
    2. The person takes classes but doesn't practice.
    3. The person never bothers to to fully emerge in the culture.
    4. The person needs friends in that language so that their new language becomes meaningful.
    5. The person needs to go to a place where that language is spoken actively.
    6. Make language learning fun. Don't make it a task.
    7. Keep notes. Put up flash cards all over your house.
    8. Write in your target language. Keep lots of notes.
    9. Listen to songs. Lots of songs. Listen to films, radio shows, plays. Listen listen listen.
    10. Don't let one day go by without working your TARGET LANGUAGE.

  16. I am looking for a Native American (USA) language partner. I'm Brazilian and I'm learning English. if you want to learn Portuguese from Brazil and want a language partner let me know. my skype is: luisfragaklock

  17. Makes sense if you think about it. What I feel people never think about is the fact that when kids are learning they have no choice and they are completely looked after and no one yells at them for saying it wrong (well sometimes but it usually involves abuse). If I lived in a house where someone only speaks Greek I’m going to learn it out of necessity.

  18. It’s virtually impossible to even go a few days not speaking English let alone a year when you live in Canada and nobody can speak anything but English around you😕

  19. You need some words to get started.

    There may not be person to speak with that speaks the language you are working on.

    I studied Russian in school. I have no friends that speak it.

  20. لماااااااذا لا توجد الترجمة باللغة العربيه
    Why these video not translate in Arabic 😩😩

  21. One simple technique to start mastering any language right now: stop messing about on YouTube watching videos about learning language and just do something – ANYTHING – that directly exposes you to the language. Even YouTube videos! 😉

  22. I don't see how you can learn a language without using your mother tongue unless the target language was using Comprehensible Input (see Stephen Krashen's lectures and TPR).

  23. wow. simple and fantastic method to learning languages. I am korean. These people have good pronunciation and speak in korean well after 12 weeks.

  24. I sat in the plane flying to Italy and made a promise to myself that I would never say 2 phrases – “I don’t speak Italian” or “do you speak English”
    Because English was NEVER on the agenda I have now far surpassed all my Italian friends here that speak English. Had I even spoken English to them on Day 1 it would be almost impossible to then switch. If I had to do something like go to the doctor – the night before I would learn all the phrases I needed and then use them – biggest thing I learned was that if you use your new vocabulary in context you remember it. I agree with everything these guys have said. I also studied basic grammar from a book, used Pimsleur, Michele Thomas, flashcards and YouTube native speaking videos. I am nowhere near fluent (Italian grammar is diabolical!) but I have been here 1.5 yrs and go about everyday life and social life with no problem.

  25. The direct study of English vocabulary or any language's vocabulary really works. Study words and phrases at the right level and you will have success.

  26. What are you supposed to do if you can't go to the country?   Try and speak the language to my wife who doesn't speak it?

  27. Films and music work for me initially, then I find someone I can speak with. If not..I speak the language to my dog. Also just beginning to use the "as you sleep" methods. WOW…The binarual sound waves in the background? Reach the language center of my brain I think. I wake up "thinking' in the language I'm studying. This really works for the "let's talk" side. Now…reading and writing? Another issue lol.

  28. From personal experience of learning languages (although learning foreign languages has always come easy to me and because I love to learn in general – Spanish, Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Levantine Arabic)), I completely agree with your methods. Learning by necessity and using translator tools is one of the fastest ways to learn.

  29. The polyglots LIVED in the countries whose languages they speak best.
    When that's not the case, is an EXCEPTION.
    Yes, there is much hypocrisy in the "polyglot community".
    They always talk about books and courses etc, and, as an afterthought, as if
    not important, there is the information in small letters: "I lived
    there (the country in question) for one, two years".
    There is even a guy the sells books teaching about how to be "fluent in 3 months" HAHAHAHAHAHAH.

  30. I have no fear of speak my language target, I fear of not have a topic to talk about, I have difficult time trying to find a topic even in my own laguage. I have hard time to find the correct words to express myself in my own language too. I think is because my social anxiety. What did the guys do to find people who where willing to interact with them in the countries they visited?

  31. I thought it was normal to speak more than one or two languages, the rule in my house is speak every language that makes up your dna, speak tsalagi our tribal language but we have a little blood from neighboring tribe so know basics in chickasaw too, habla espanol, fala Portuguese, know basics of Arabic cuz small percent of family before mixed with Arab ppl, drop of Irish so Gaelig and for fun Korean and mandarin, but wolof is the language some friends from the Gambia so speak it also mandinka so get basics in that but friends from 2 other tribes are like family so know those,its a lil of what seems allot but it's great and everyone can learn and im wanting to study Vietnamese, so the neighbors probably think we have a packed hostel for tourists ,they must hear all the changes in vocal tone, everything, but agreed don't be scared to speak up in a different language and be happy it's not mandatory like in this family lol,

  32. I really wanna learn japanese because of my heritage. And french because its so pretty. I did some basic rosetta stone with both and took some japanese classes but need to restart learning them. Goal is japan in june. But we will see.

  33. I'm native from Ecuador (Souht America) and speak Spanish, but I want to teach English.
    Somebody who want to teach me English and I can to teach Spanish? 😀

  34. The reason that American businessman these two guys were talking about didn't learn Korean even though he was living in Korea for 20+ years, was married to a Korean woman, had kids with that woman, is because he spoke in English with his wife and did everything in English, which ruined his chances of learning Korean. Yes, he was hearing natives talking to each other and was listening to them (probably, I don't know a thing about this American guy, just speculating), but he wasn't speaking Korean himself. If he was trying to speak Korean from Day 1, he would have been fluent in under a year. 100% exposure and immersion with your target language is the key to fluency ONLY if you try to actually use and speak it.

  35. So they learned through osmosis?

    How many times does the color violet come up in conversation, in a context that you understand in three months?

    Enough so you can speak it when needed?

    No, the traditional learning methods are still required. Immersion helps with speaking and listening but they totally glossed over vocabulary building and grammar.

  36. the foundation to a language is the verb….learn two verbs…to be, and to have….as well as a few pronouns, and the five questions wh, what where when and how…and you are off to the races….and vocabulary….numbers and diagrams…

  37. I did learn Spanish indeed that way they are proposed (without knowing that this video exists, I founded only today) . I found a Spanish tandem and right after the start there were an only-German part (for the other person) and an only-Spanish part (for me). My no-German-rule I didn't break , but sometimes I cheated with English resources, e.g. to learn the Spanish grammar.
    But even this is not necessary. Now I try as a self-experiment to learn French only with French resources. No German-French-dictionary as little as possible. Rather I try to use definitions in French.There a lot of very good french sites in the internet to learn french. I'll we see if it works or not 😀

  38. I understand this “ No English Rule “ .
    I am learning German right now…

    What about grammar???
    What about basic sentence structure??

    I am totally agreed with you.. forcing yourself to speak it is the most efficient way…

    Waiting for your reply…..

  39. So, lets say I want to learn Russian, or Polish, or Swahili, I don't have any "friends" who speak those to help me. So, your method might as well be the most difficult. While I dont want to diss what you are saying, step one involved overcoming an obstacle Before I start. I that nukes it right there. So if we only used your method, instead of Lots of people raising their hands they had tried, there would be far fewer, because most of those people are trying to learn in isolation. And thus, if you can come up with something for those who want to learn in isolation, then you have something.
    Let me also add, that while this method may be great, it still requires TIME from other tasks in a person's life. Many start learning with good intentions then life gets in the way. After all, the 2nd language isn't putting food on the table. So, extraneous time drains need to go. And that means, the 2nd language learning for most. And that is something your method just cannot overcome.
    Otherwise, interesting approach. Thanks for sharing.

  40. They list me at move to the country thing .. some of us have jobs , responsibilities, school, kids 🙁

  41. I have done this with Spanish and what they say is basically correct. For an “easy” language you should be “functional” at a pretty basic level in three months but you won’t speak well. Also imo you should study the basics of the language before going abroad. And it’s a good idea to do a thorough review the grammar after becoming conversational. That will help you tidy things up.

  42. Excelentes recomendaciones. Tener la necesidad de sobrevivir en un ambiente desconocido, te obliga a sacar su máximo capacidad en el aprendizaje de idiomas.

  43. 100 % inmersion. my problem is watch telenovelas in my free time. 😄and when my american hubby get home ,i am using spanglish "te extrañe all day long baby and want give you muchos besos" I have dinner unas ricas enchiladas and your michelada"

  44. Gus are Captains Evident Idea, that's been about 100 of years around)) Exactly Rossetta Stone. Continue funding their travel plans.. .

  45. i think this method works because you already express yourself so you learn what you need for this process

  46. ~13:45, oftentimes, in the US, people don't appreciate being forced to teach someone of a different background their culture. The presenters (forgot?) to mention that one should ask one's colleague's if s/he wants to engage. Otherwise, entitled assholery is the baseline of said "classes." Good info, guys… except for the entitlement!

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