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How quickly can you learn a language?

A fascinating article in The Guardian tracks how one man learned to speak a language in around a day.

Joshua Foer’s learning was spaced out over a few months, using the system Memrise. But he found that he memorised around 1000 words pretty easily, and could put them into use when he was immersed in the language environment.

Memrise encourages you to create a mnemonic, which it calls a “mem”, for every word you want to learn. A mem could be a rhyme, an image, a video or just a note about the word’s etymology, or something striking about its pronunciation. In the case of languages such as French and Chinese, where there are thousands of people learning it at any one time, you can browse through a catalogue of mems created by other members of the Memrise community. This is especially fun for Chinese, where users have uploaded videos of various logographic characters morphing into cartoons of the words they represent. (Source: Guardian)

Foer learned Lingala, a trade language developed in the 19th Century and spoken in both of the Congos and some parts of Angola. If he was able to learn this minority language so quickly and with so little resources, imagine what you could do with a big language like English or Spanish!

It’s probably best to take a class alongside memorising information, to practice your pronunciation skills. How about English classes in Miami or French classes in New York?