Why We Struggle Learning Languages | Gabriel Wyner | TEDxNewBedford

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The only barrier to learning a language is memory. - The process of language learning is the process of forming memories. Nothing more, nothing less. If you understand that, and you understand how memories are formed, then you can make progress in a way you've never dreamed possible before. Gabriel Wyner is an author, opera singer and polyglot based in Chicago. After reaching fluency in German in 14 weeks with the help of the immersive Middlebury Language Schools, he fell in love with the process of language learning, going on to spend two months in intensive Italian courses in Perugia, Italy. Searching for ways to bring the immersion experience into the home, he began to develop a system that rapidly builds fluency in short, daily sessions. In 2010, his efforts paid off. He learned French to fluency in 5 months, and then Russian in 10 months. Born in Los Angeles, he graduated summa cum laude in 2007 from the University of Southern California with dual degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Vocal Arts Performance, and was awarded the Renaissance Scholar’s prize for excellence in unrelated disciplines. He then moved to Vienna to pursue triple Master’s degrees at the Konservatorium Wien in Opera, Lieder and Voice, and graduated with honors in 2011. Currently learning Japanese, he's learned Hungarian and Spanish over the last few years. His book on language learning – Fluent Forever: How to learn any language fast and never forget it – was published on August 5, 2014 (Harmony/Random House). His most recent project has been the development of a new language learning tool, which became the most successful Kickstarter for an app in history in September of 2017. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

Culture Education English Language Learning Memory Speech TEDxTalks

i watched this video yesterday evening and i was surprised this morning. i was at the bus stop waiting for a bus and out of nowhere the word Moktor came to my mind, i wasnt even thinking about the video or anything and the word and the whole scenario came to mind out of the blue. am definitely going to give this method a try while am currently learning Korean
Ana Mira
Now, the word 'Moktor' will stick with me.
Ashlee Fay
This TED talk was interesting, now back to learning Russian!
Asit Waghmare
btw he's so hot
Azay Deelay
I speak several languages and have dabbled in another half dozen. Now I am teaching myself GERMAN and I am already using these techniques. We need to listen to a lot of films and listen to songs. And we need to travel to the country.
Ballwiz 23
Ok but kids actually do naturally learn languages faster. It's a matter of neuroplacticity.\nAnd the Hungarian word for camel was a really long and hard word...\nStill a really good talk. But I can't quite figure out how to actually apply the concepts. How do I give the language life through tastes and touch and sounds and memories if I have no way of adding it to my life other than flashcards? If I could afford to move to Brazil (I'm learning Portuguese) I would. But I can't. So what now?
Beta Vulgaris
Charlatan. There is zero way anyone can understand normal spoken French with no listening practice. It's just not possible.
Bruni Brewin
Another thought that came to mind is that this is a very valid way taught to remember other things. For example, my name is Bruni (the i at the end sounds like ee). When meeting me if you wish to remember my name easily, you are asked to pick something about me that will brings how I look. (example; it could be the glasses I wore). Then you make a visual representation, in this case it could be me brewing a cup of tea sitting on your knee. this is close enough for the 'brewing' and the 'knee' for your mind to remember bruni. This is quite common place learning for making a short-term shopping list to go to the shops, where you have a visual alphabet like; 1 = sun, 2 = shoe, 3 = ski, and so forth, where the first item on your list you make a picture with the sun to remember the first item on the list.
But I'm scared of the dark!
Does anyone have any advice on how to start using this method?
Calvin Chang
damn that's a good talk
Christian Gingras
Learning Chinese was difficult. After 3 months, i was amazed suddenly that i could recognize the pinyin word as it was spoken on the cassette. Three months later, a new shock : i could recognize a written chinese character as it was spoken. Later, another shock as i could remember what they were saying on these cassettes without looking at the book.\nI decided to try something new: the gospel of mark read in Chinese, 1 hour total.\nThe first time i listen, i recognize Iesus here and there. Next time, i listen and try to follow the French translation. I could follow approximately by scaling the 1 hour time by the number of pages. The cassette is about at 25%, then it should be page 6... i watch for a name like pide or iesus... found it.\nRepeat a few times and i now remember that entire 1 hour reading like a long music. Here, he will get angry, here he will repeat the same word, etc\nAfter 1 month, i could tell which paragraph in the French translation he is reading in Chinese.\nUntil today, there is at least 50% of the Chinese words that i am not sure which one it is, but i can say what the phrase translate to.\nHard work, such a different language compared to all european languages which borrow so heavily from each other.
Dmitry Davletbaev
This presentation is awesome!
Don Giovanni
That's quite fair point. I've once realized that you must _understand_ the word, not _translate_ it. And from then I use flashcards (electronic only) with pictures, and with context (phrase, where I first met the word). And it's way more efficient for me. Never translate words to another language to remember them. Use images and other senses instead.
Duda Araújo
I'll try this method to learn English.
Duyên Trần Thị
Someone can help me learn ENGLISH ? my English is so bad. Thanks
Emma Hollings
This guy believes in teaching the exact same way my very first french teacher taught me and my class, from when we came in the door on the first day she told us; to learn a language you have to become fully immersed in it. And it worked. there are two french classes in my year, usually one, but so many kids wanted to keep doing french in this way. you can see the difference between students of one class and students of the other, if you think about it, what's the sense in learning one language in another?
Faisal Ramadhan Budiono
I love this talk. I realize how I learned my English, It's from youtube videos of my favorite youtuber and most of my vocabulary is written in my mind so deeply because of the picture, the sound, the moment and also the emotion that I had while watching it.
Fatima Jahaf
Bt it's hard to connect the grammer and words with real-world life...i can apply this for 5%\nNo way to find the translations in flash cards and how to flash cards for grammar. ..
This Ted Talk speaks so much truth. If you're a teenager and possibly early 20's or even anyone who uses the internet often you use a special type of english. Personally I just call it Internet English, before we used the internet we didn't know this english. We learn't it by pure exposure to the internet. Here's an example, The difference between someone finishing their sentence with a full stop or not. The full stops and punctuation gives the whole sentence a more formal and serious nuance compared to the non full stop where it makes the sentence more casual and fun. I don't know where I am going with this comment but do you understand?
Hey guys, please help me.....\nHow can I do that?????????????
Galileo Rocha Cuevas
I'm Mexican, fifteen-years-old, fluent in Spanish, and English, proficient in French and Portuguese.\n\nThe only way to learn a language is listening properly (unless it's a _SL [blank + sign language]) and being willing to communicate in a new way.
Harald Grønvold
Very true. I should have lived more in french throughout my year in Geneva, rather than hiding behind my english, even though I've learnt to understand waay more french than I give myself credit for. I find myself saying \
Hòa Lê
Thank you for your talk. I’m currently learning English, Spanish and Mandarin. It inspires me a lot on the way to be fluent at those languges
Isteyak ansari
I m trying to learn some other language .but I m not making it effectively and getting frustrated while learning language,I think learning language is not a easy job for people like me, can any one give me some trick to crack the key of learning language.
J. K.
Na, meine Lieben, diese Debatte kann man ewig weiterführen; bitte ohne mich, weil ich keine Zeit mehr dazu widmen kann. Ich bin viel zu beschäftigt beim Sprachenlernen! Also tschüß!!😁
Jeison Eduardo Gomes
I learnd English as a second language and now I'm realizing that I should learn French and Italian, everything is possible if you have the determination and discipline for reach your goals.
Jersey Joe
My old gym teacher from Ukraine spoke Ukrainian, Polish, German, Turkish, Russian, and learned English after he fled during WW2. My great grandpa from Lithuania spoke Lithuanian, Russian, and sufficient English to be able to speak to my grandpa Bronislav (Benjamin) Stanislavīčīus (Stanislau) who spoke English, Polish, Lithuanian, and some Russian.
Job Offer
I already forgot the name of that beverage he's frunk
John Doe
I need someone to explain to me what his technique was for learning a language cause i just dont understand
Jolene Mech.chic84
Thank you for this. Although the reasoning may be different and the level of immersion, I can resonate with this as you put it sort masochistic way of learning a new language complete immersion is amazing. It is sort of intoxicating in a way even if you can't respond to what has been heard or can only make out bits and pieces of the conversation. I think I am very slowly starting to really enjoy learning to think in a completely different way and the feeling a different language seems to have on my brain. Long story short, I'm a US Soldier that 6 months ago got stationed in Korea. The first time I went off post, seeing Hangul everywhere bothered me because I could not read it. This pushed me to learn to read Hangul but I quickly learned reading is not the same as translating or understanding. Then when learning a few words the grammar started to fascinate me becuase of how different it is to my native language. This lead to me watching tons of videos, reading books, and writing loads of notes on the Korean language during the majority of my free time. On the weekends I like to situate myself in places where there is very little English and attempt to communicate with the native speakers of this country or just listen to see what I manage to understand. Although before arriving I did not have much of an intention on learning Korean, in the six months I have been here I have learned how to read everything in Hangul (although not quite as fast as some scrolling displays move but almost), at least 400 Korean words, and a lot about particles, and grammar. I also have spent a ton of time visiting museums and learning about the culture as a whole. Not sure how far I will get during the remainder of my time here but I really hope that it continues to capture my interest after I leave and maybe I can find friends back home to help learn more.
Josh xD
Ich heiße auch Joshua ;)
Just Me
This is just awesome! Precisely what I needed!
Karel Kohout
Very good TED talk. The best thing is the story about the interview in French. That says something about the school system of teaching languages - it's actually totally inefficient...
Killian Brown
Whelp: time to get back on Japanese!
Laura Marotta
finally someone who knows what they are talking about
Been following fluent-forever for years now. Never disappointed me
Leah Berman
Has anyone been using the app Fluent Forever?
I like this talk. Memory is exactly what is needed to learn a language, that is obvious. I know it is memory. And exactly that is my problem: having a bad memory. I understand how Spanish is build up and I can learn it from English as a base, just as I can learn German from a Dutch base (which is my first language btw). But memory is what strucks me. After 10 years teaching myself Spanish I can only hold a basic conversation, but only if the other person is speaking slow Spanish. It's rather frustrating really.
Loshi Studios
This guy drinks way too much coffee.
Lucas Guimaraes
Wow, I never even imagined this method to learn another language! Thanks Gabriel!
Fantastic talk!
Matt Stockmal
Why is this guy giving this talk like a slam poem? Why?
Michael Juliano
I don't think I lost the ability to hear new languages properly. Either that idea is also false, or it isn't true for everyone.
This guy changed my life a couple years ago. I am speaking Italian, Turkish and picked up Japanese through his method. I love what you are doing gabe! Thanks for being you!
Philip B
It's not just languages where one learns better when connecting new information with multiple associations. Slot something into context and you will retain that knowledge better than if it were isolated from context.
Piano at Thirty
Prince Issac
Pour me some MOKTOR..😵
Priscila Sánchez
I've been learning Korean for about 7 months and I'm struggling with vocabulary. This is worth trying
because Japanese is endless...
Robert Kite
I wonder if that school in Vermont was Middlebury. They have a great language program there. I know this because it's my home town.
Rune L
Scandinavia? Moktor??? This is just something he invented. Theres no vikings here either.
Sarah Matthews
Why did no one laugh at his jokes :/
Seamus Cannon
What is the Vermont college?
Shawna Mcintosh
The app \
Soroosh Akef
I understand the point he's trying to make, and it's that exposure is the most important factor in learning a language, but it's just inaccurate to claim that we are better than children at learning languages. Here's a paragraph from Victoria Fromkin's An Introduction to Language: \
I taught myself english when I was eight, and ti only took me a month. I am now trying to learn German, I've been doing it for a month and a half... And it's going quite well! I would say however that learning a language is somewhat easier when you're younger, but I am not struggling with German, and I do get better every day!
The 'moktor' story reminds me of my teacher who learned me English, a few years ago. He was a substitute, but was there for about half a year, and our class really enjoyed every lesson with him.\n\nThe lessons he would give, consisted of watching TedEd video's, funnily enough. He made a short list of notable words, and kept it on the whiteboard while the class went to watch the video. He taught us how certain parts of words sound like others, and that you should forn connections between them that way. And the words we learned were remembered by the video's and explanations of him. He once asked us what the word 'pristine' meant. Many, if not all of us, didn't know it. But after his lesson, none of us would forget the word.\n\nIt's actually surprising how well his teaching helped, and it was all really enjoyable.
Stephan Geu
What SRS do you all use?
Sukhbir Sekhon
I'll remember moktor but what the he'll does it mean? He is right to emphasise the importance of memory in learning a new language. But in the end his technique is based on flashcards. His book is apparently based on Anki flashcard system which there is an app for. I can't find his, apparently very successful on kickstarter app, on the playstore. It may be available on iTunes but I don't have an iPhone for religious regions. He has been very successful in learning languages himself but I find no proof he can really help other people. For a method that applies similar principles to what he talks about check out linkword languages which takes what he says to another level.
Tai HaTranDuc
thank you so much
The Travel Guy
Gabriel, you just changed my language acquisition LIFE!
I study Russian on Duolingo for 2 months and can already read the alphabet and say a few little things.
Thomas R
So how would I start learning a language? Would I get a textbook and make flashcards the way he did?
He's absolutely right that the efficient way to learn a language is through multi-sensory webs of meaning, but I think that his phobia about translation is misplaced. The Grammar/Translation method didn't work for him at school because it was poorly taught and in particular, because he was never given the opportunity to use what he learned in meaningful and motivating contexts. Many effective approaches make use of translation, such as Assimil or Luca Lampariello's bi-directional translation method. Serious pedagogues such as Michael Lewis are urging a reevaluation of the role of translation in language learning. Our native language is a key advantage we have over children, and understanding how to use it as a bridge into a new language can only help. Gabriel's method involves jumping through a lot of time-consuming hoops in his drive to avoid any translation at all costs - time that might be better spent interacting with the language.
Victor Ulhôa
Vision Times
Has something really helpful for learners.
WonTaek Lim
The speaker is a genius.
a r
What is the summer program he took part in ?
abdi-rizaq Muxudiin
Awesome presenter. Leaning new languages is my hobby but the only thing always hold me back is the environment i life. They only talk their own mother language..
I was happy to have picked up a new Swedish word - moktor - but then I googled it and all I had picked up was a made up word. but hey, at least I know a new word xD
I agree with the premise that adults can learn faster but to be fair, there was A LOT more repetition with \
A really engrossing Ted talk from a very interesting guy. I bought the book Forever Fluent just over two weeks ago,read it, and have now started putting it into practice.I would highly recommend this book to anyone learning languages. One of my best purchases.
cattycat RBLX
One of the best TED talks I’ve ever seen. Well done sir. Muy, muy bien .
diego armando
Quite useless. Again..
Yeah I can’t even count how many times I went to France and a 5 year old child outspoken me and French. Literally happens all the time.
duong nguyen
That's really heplful, actually i was living in English around 9 months officially. And i am quite good in English, i havenot thought that i can speak, read, watch videos, clips, films by English. But i was very lucky, met an English center, it has same environment, 100% English, so i was living in English 9 months. Now, English isnot a big deal to me. I am trying to study French some near days. But donot have environment, lol. So may be it takes me long time to influent in French. But anyway, i try my best.
Tough audience
fae gibb
This guy is my inspirational. Thank you so much. I have been making slow progress with Korean the past year and forget vocabulary for abstract concepts all the time. My new teacher is amazing but I need new methods for my vocab learning. You have given me hope.
Does someone have any tips on learning irish gaelic? I'm going to start with duolingo and a journal tomorrow and I would apreciate some extra help
When I was to do my military service they did a morse signal test on us, and I passed it well and became a telegraphist. In the group of other telegraphists I noted everyone was also a musician, like myself. So learning morse language, which is about tones has to do with music abilities... and what I also have noticed is that it is really easy for me to learn languages and imitate their sounds... might there be a connection with learning words and sounds and having a brain \
The older i get the more languages I am learning. The myth is a BS
indra halim
primsleur method combined with method of loci.
kuriyama yuichi
this is obviously the worst audience in ted stage that I've ever seen...
So... What the heck meant \
nert momly
I know 7 languages and i agree with everything he says
raffaella paci
I am a polyglot myself and agree on every single word he said in this talk.
terzino di paese
thank you gabe for your book and for your speech
whomst d
Сания Исаева
I'm thrilled. This is so much inspirational, as I am on my way to speak English fluently. I wish I could speak like him but he definetely made me look at the language from another point of view. Cheers.
ジェナアムラアJenna Irmler
That's sexist! I'm offended!
He's spoken good speach.\nI go to USA tomorrow to study International relationship and languages. He taught me good things to learn them.
Give language life,it's the critical spirit of leaning a new language,though I already know it ,I haven't draw it yet,thanks to your speech I am more aware of it right now.