You want to learn a foreign language. How do you start?
You can jump right in and soon find yourself frustrated. Or you can let people who already learned several languages to guide you. On this page you’ll find language learning books that I recommend to every learner who wants to succeed.
Books on Language Learning
One of the most inspirational books ever written on language learning. The author of this memoir, Kato Lomb, was a hungarian polyglot, the first in the world simultaneous interpreter and an icon for every language learner and linguist. Having learned over 16 languages, she describes her learning journey in a hilarious and absolutely mind-blowing way. So if ever you feel like giving up on language learning, try flipping over the pages of Polyglot. A shot of motivation is guaranteed.
A must-read for every language learner. The Third Ear leaves you armed with a set of principles and actions that are guarenteed to accelerate your language learning. One of the first explorers in psychology of language learning, Chris Lonsdale has learned Chinese in six month with no language classes. In his book, he debunks common myths about language learning and offers a practical step-by-step guide to learning any language at any age.
This book is about language hacking in its purest form. In Fluent Forever, austrian polyglot Gabriel Wyner reveals strategies and techniques that helped him to learn six different languages on his own. What language apps will boost your learning progress? What five neuroscience principles will help you to memorize vocabulary super efficiently? And, more importantly, what secret of opera singers will make you sound like a native? All the answers are behind this cover.
Fluent in 3 Months: How Anyone at Any Age Can Learn to Speak Any Language from Anywhere in the World
I bet you've already heard about Benny Lewis. This guy became a Language Ambassador of the Year in 2012 and a National Geographic Travel of the Year in 2013. But apart from that, Benny is a modern time polyglot famous for his impressive ability to learn languages in three months. His book, both practical and inspirational, will find a place in the heart of every language lover, in hte backpack of every globertrotter and on the shelf of every language learner. Because language learning and travel go in one package ;)
Language learning is all about practice but if it was that simple we would all have learned second language in school. Often, what we think effective is actually not. And a look behind the scientific veil of language learning can be really helpful. So this book was my personal 2nd language acquisition course. And since it offers a quick (and fairly exciting) overview of all recent research on the topic, I've got a boatload of useful insights.
Books on memory, motivation, productivity and learning
It may seem off topic, but your success - no matter in what field - depends on your ability to focus. Concentration is extremely important in language learning as this activity constantly challenges your memory, inductive skills and decoding abilities. And if you think that you can learn your daily 10 Spanish words while simultaneously chatting over WhatsApp - there are some bad news for you. Deep Work unveils why multitasking is deadly for producitvity and tells how exactly you should organize your learning session to take the most of your time. An extremely exciting and useful read.
Memory is everything in language learning. But I bet that you forgot important things so many times that you're not so sure in the sharpness of your memory anymore. Well, Joshua Foer is just about to fix that. Exploring various memorization techniques from the memory palace to the PAO system, he tells you everything you need to become the champion of memory. And the master of your own brain, of course. It's a breath of fresh air for everyone who believed that they can't learn languages because of the poor memory.
The brain is your major intrument when it comes to learning anything new, languages included. That's why I believe that knowing how your brain works is essential if you want to be successful as a language learner. With Brain Rules, you'll learn 12 non-obvious requirement to unlocking your brain potential. Results: you improve your memory, master the art of focus and learn another paradoxal thing: study more effectively with the least effort.
Learning a foreign language is quite a chronovore. So having no time for it is a fairly common excuse. That's why I consider GTD an essential book for language learners: it eliminates this excuse. Getting Things Done is a unique time-management system that allows you to find time for things you actually want to do: like learning Spanish, for example. Moreover, productivity tools and strategies described by David Allen will save you a great deal of mental energy that could be directed to language learning.
My personal #1. The Power of Habit is everything you need to know to reach any of your goals. It taught me to approach language learning from a very unusual side: to see it as a set of habits. And this approach makes learning a way easier. With a series of engaging real-life examples, Charles Duhigg defines the anatomy of a habit and shows how they work. And from there is just one step to rewiring them to your advantage.
Well, this one is a serious read. Serious both by its size (the guide includes 10 chapters that can pass for books on their own) and by the amount of research on all aspects of mental performance hidden behind the cover. The Owner's Manual for the Brain names all the game changers that define your life success on the daily basis and tells you how to deal with them. Topics include creativity, intelligenece, habits, sleep, stress management and - guess it - memory. Knowing about your own brain is not just potentially increases your success in learning-related tasks (like language acquisition) but takes your life on the whole new level whatsoever. So P.J.Howard is essential for everyone who considers themselves high achievers.
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