How do poliglots learn a language?
Many people all over the world can speak up to ten different languages, more or less fluently. How do they do it? Do they have some kind of talent or facility for languages? So it seems they are perfectly normal ordinary people who love learning languages? You don't believe it?
Different poliglots were interviewed, and some of them have even dedicated time to giving talks in different countries explaining that it is possible to speak as many languages as we want to.
It's clear that there are people who have found the way to learn a new language in a relatively short space of time, that is to say, they haven't spent 10 years studying like the rest of us. What do these people do that the others don't?
We could say that poliglots seem to have certain things in common when facing the challenge of learning a new language.
1. Self learning.
It would seem that they do not attend any language school or have a private teacher teaching them the language. They, themselves find different tools that they believe can help them to learn, such as text books, listening to podcasts on topics that interest them, literature, watching series in original version with or without subtiles.
2. Personal method.
Each person finds their personal methodology, that's to say, the one that best suits their needs or their way of learning. Some start by learning the most common words, others first dedicate time to listening and reading before speaking; there are some who start by speaking from the very beginning. The most important thing is that each person finds one or various learning methods which are useful to them because they adapt to their way of learning. In addition, some of them create their own material, they have their own flascards, books of their choice, online resources, be they videos or podcasts...
3. They learn languages one at a time.
It may seem logical, but we should take into account that students at primary or secondary school have the option of learning two languages at a time (English/French, English/German...). Poliglots add a new language to their collection once they can speak the ones they've learnt before. What they certainly do is keep practising the ones they already master.
4. Listening and speaking.
They focus their attention on a very important thing, the listening. We all know that the first thing we do when we learn our mother tongue is listening. We learn sounds that, little by little become words and further on sentences. Not until we go to school will we learn the grammar that lies behind what we say. However, we'll be able to speak quite fluently.
Another key aspect is speaking. As children, once we've been listening for quite a few months, we are able to articulate words by imitating the ones we hear from our parents and the people around us. It doesn't really matter whether we speak correctly or make mistakes, we simply communicate and make ourselves understood. That's also the way poliglots do it, they are not afraid of making mistakes.
5. Small but constant doses.
When they learn a language, they dedicate a certain period of time to it every single day. It's far better to spend half an hour a day than two hours once a week. That prevents them from getting easily bored and enables them to combine learning with their daily lives, their work...
6. They enjoy the process.
As we all know, we learn more easily when we enjoy it. We all have different interests and we can adapt them to learn the language we want to learn. We can watch our favourite series in that language, read or listen to articles about our hobbies. We can also read books or find cookery recipes if we like cooking. There are endless ways to introduce a new language into our daily lives, the point is to enjoy ourselves while doing it.
So, poliglots are not specially talented, but follow certain strategies that summarized could be: Find an effective method, perseverance, patience and above all, enjoyment.