Monday, June 2, 2014

"The Sticky Little Ball . . . and 9 more tips for successfully learning a language (almost) all on your own"

Hi folks! Today I'm delighted to have a guest post from a globe-trotting friend who's written a little book I thought y'all might be interested in. He wants to keep his identity for a surprise at the end, so I won't introduce him here, but instead just say: read on! This is good stuff. :)  -Jessica

When it comes to things you and your kids can do to sharpen your minds, open new worlds, pimp your resumes, make travel more fun, be hilarious when you least want to be, and meet a whole new set of friends, hardly anything beats learning another language.

However, let’s face it: for most people, learning another language isn’t the exhilarating adventure it’s cracked up to be. What most people learn from trying to learn another language is that they can’t learn another language, which isn’t exactly the objective. I hate that about language classes and courses.

“I can’t learn another language,” you say.

“How do you know?” I ask.

“Because I tried it and I couldn’t do it,” you say.

AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHH,” I mutter at the top of my muttery voice.

The thing is, most language learning courses promise too much too soon, so when you fail to meet your heady expectations, you decide you can’t do it. Think diets that promise you’ll lose 10 pounds a week for a year until you are nothing but a shadow with a big smile. Or exercise equipment that promises you a bronze 6-pack in three weeks if only you will do this one little thing. Those are marketing lies, but they manage to create expectations that make you feel like an abject failure when you can’t meet them. I will resist yelling ‘aarrgghh’ again.

I’ve learned several languages fluently. I’ve taught other people to learn languages fluently. My wife Tammy learned to speak Spanish on her own so well that she became a nationally certified healthcare interpreter for the hospital where she worked, without ever taking a class. I’ve worked with many people who are learning other languages, and many who have taken my classes in English and Spanish.

The thing is, the spirit is willing but the tactics are weak. Most language learning happens outside a classroom, but no one thinks to tell you what kinds of things are most helpful when you have snatches of time to work on it during your day.

So I wrote a Kindle book just for you: “The Sticky LittleBall …and 9 more tips for how to learn a language (almost) all on your own.” It’s a short, easy read, but the tips I give you pack a punch and will escort you all the way from beginner to advanced.

Whether you want to learn a language or you want to inspire your kids to do it, The Sticky Little Ball is a resource you can revisit often. It walks you through motivation, planning, listening, reading, packing a sticky little ball, rewarding yourself, interacting and more. It shows you how hot fudge sundaes and temporary tattoos are an integral part of language learning. It offers you a way to see the Scriptures in a whole new light through bilingual Bible reading.

Most of all, I hope it inspires you to sally forth again, eager to discover new worlds one palabra at a time. Bon voyage, y vaya con Dios.

Ron Snell lives and works in Costa Rica, where he teaches English to Costa Ricans, teaches Spanish to gringos, and guides real estate clients to properties that are beautiful in any language. Currently one of his great blessings is that he’s Jessica Snell’s father-in-law. Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. (See full disclosure on sidebar of my blog.)


Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Jess, I know you've worked on learning Spanish. Have you read this book? Found it helpful? I'm much more attracted to becoming a more reasonable Spanish speaker since moving to Anaheim, because I sure would like to be able to talk with my neighbors!

Jessica Snell said...

Em, it was *just* released, so I haven't had a chance yet, but I know Ron, and know that he has learned all the stuff he says he has, *and* that he's a good teacher and writer (I've read other stuff of his). He was actually one of the people who trained my parents when they first went out on the mission field!