Noel van Vliet is not a hiperpolyglot, he is a trilingual who gives great information on his blog http://www.smartlanguagelearner.com. Do you want to know how the experts do to learn a language and if a course is good? Well, you’ll find the information on his site.
- What languages do you speak and at what level?
I speak Dutch, English and Spanish fluently. But they’re never in a fixed state. If I slack off on speaking English, for example, that particular skill diminishes temporarily, even if my listening isn’t affected. It recovers quickly when I give it the necessary attention. I’ve even started to forget words of my native language Dutch. Not the simple words I used everyday, but those words that you only hear or read every once in a while. I speak something of several other languages as well but I can’t really hold conversations in those languages. And that’s what counts.
- How do you choose the languages you learn?
That’s such an important question. The reason why you choose to learn a language ultimately decides (or at least heavily influences) whether you’ll stick with it long enough to reach a high level. I choose to learn Spanish for travel purposes, and English is just such a useful language.
- When did you begin learning each language?
I started learning Spanish in 2010. English followed quickly. Although I already spoke some basic English before that. I guess I started learning Dutch while in my mother’s womb. The other languages I’ve “studied” just weren’t that useful for me at the time, so I dropped them. You can choose quality or quantity. I went for quality.
- How often do you use each language?
I speak Spanish with my Costa Rican family, Dutch with my Dutch family, and I write, listen and read in English every day, and every once in a while I have a conversation in English.
- What materials and methods do you use?
I have experimented extensively. In fact, it’s one of my passions to see what works and what doesn’t. The language-learning community is moving fast. Less and less people use conventional courses but I think they still have value. You should never use just a single method or learning source, but if the quality of the course is good it offers you a guide for the rest of your learning. You can adjust your supporting materials to match the stuff the course is teaching you at any given time. I used a similar approach to learn Spanish.
- Share any thoughts/tips you’d like with the readers.
I could give many, but currently I’m in the process of writing an article about measuring your language-learning progress. In the day to day grind of learning another language we often don’t realize how far we’ve come, and that can result in either changing a good plan or giving up on your language altogether. To prevent that you can do some simple things like reading a story and marking what you understand. You then leave the story alone until the day you feel disappointed about your progress. Many times when you read it again you see that you have progressed substantially. This gives you the confirmation that you’re on the right track. You can do the same with a song.