Not to seem boastful, but here, at MosaLingua, we know a thing or two about how to study languages and there’s a reason why we often speak about the fact that you should be efficient in your approach to learning a language. As we’ve already said, you should always optimize language learning with the Pareto Principle, which means that you should learn the 20% of a language which will be of use 80% of the time, something you can easily do with the MOSA Learning ® method.
Additionally, you make enormous progress when you first start. It’s with this in mind that some polyglots (who also know how to study languages) use a special technique when they start learning a new language, namely, “deconstructing a language“. This technique was developed by Tim Ferris, an American blogger who takes up the hardest challenges in order to share them over the internet.
With this, you can analyze and understand the structure of a language within a few minutes! Intriguing, isn’t it? Below, we’ll be explaining in detail how to deconstruct a language.
How to Study Languages by Deconstructing Them
The main idea
When you start learning a language, you’re in uncharted grounds, especially if you don’t know how to study languages, and finding yourself in the middle of a learning session facing an aspect of a language you just don’t get isn’t impossible to imagine.
But, wouldn’t it be better to be able to discover all these difficulties right at the beginning in order to be able to anticipate and adapt accordingly?
After having observed how polyglots learn a language so fast, some have realized that polyglots are mostly interested in finding the basic structures of the languages, something which allows them to go past the first phases in no time. And it is THESE structures that make up the famous 20% of a language that cover 80% of your needs.
Even better, we can even simplify these exercises even more by synthesizing these crucial structures in only 8 phrases!
Once you’ve dissected the phrases, you can easily understand:
- Sentence structure
- How to reproduce simple concepts such s pronouns, possessives, adjectives, etc.
- Identify eventual problem areas you will have with a language
- how to accordingly orientate the learning process
How to Study Languages by Deconstructing Them
To explain how to deconstruct a language, we’ll take French as an example and deconstruct the 8 following phrases:
- La pomme est rouge. The apple is red.
- C’est la pomme de Jean. It is John’s apple.
- Ils donnent la Pomme à Jean. They give the apple to John.
- Nous lui donnons les pommes. We give him the apples.
- Il la donne à Jean. He gives it to John.
- Elle la lui donne. She gives it to him.
- Je dois la lui donner. I must give it to him.
- Je veux la lui donner. I want to give it to her.
Let’s forget about the vocabulary because it’s not that important. We’ll rather take a look at the structure of the phrases.
What’s the first thing we notice? With a bit of observation, quite a few things:
- The order of the words is similar to the English subject-verb-object order.
- However, complements of a verb can come before the verb
- Words have genders, meaning that “the” can be translated as le, la and les
- Linking possessions isn’t done with the Saxon genitive (i.e. the ” ‘s ” in “My son‘s cat”) but more like the official “the… of…” construction (i.e. la pomme de John could be literally translated as “the apple of John”)
- Verbs have different endings in the present according to the subject (unlike English, which the verbs only differing with an s after “he/she/it”).
- Personal pronouns vary according to the sex, and “it” can be translated as le, la or les
- As in English, personal pronouns change depending on whether they are the subject or the complement of a verb (“He -> Him” is Il -> Lui)
Of course, other conclusions can be drawn, this list is not meant to be exhaustive.
Another thing that is important about this exercise consists of comparing phrases with their pronunciation. With French, we can quickly see that its pronunciation is not always intuitive:
- some sounds don’t exist in English (like the sound for the words je and rouge)
- Like in English, there are combinations of letters that make a different sound (the ou in rouge, for example)
- Not every letter is pronounced (ils donnent is pronounced “il done”)
So this is how to study languages to quickly learn the most used basic grammatical expressions of most languages and find the similarities and difficulties of a language in a very short time. Try to do this exercise with any language by using the same phrases and try to draw as much information as possible. Deconstructing a language is simple and fast, but highly efficient!
Of course, it’s up to you to make your own discoveries; but you now know the principle. Some will find an aspect of a language very easy, while some will find it completely nonsensical and indecipherable until they deconstruct it, that is. Don’t be scared by the grammar terms used above. You can describe your observations as you wish. With this technique, you can deconstruct a language before starting to learn it, and you’ll see that learning it will be much faster!
Are you intrigued by this technique? Do you want to try to use it on a language? Don’t hesitate to share and talk about your deconstruction findings in the comment section! You’ll also be able to use this method with the MosaLingua apps, where you can quickly and easily memorize key phrases and throw yourself in language learning the best way you could ever do so!
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