Vanity apps are nothing new. In fact, there’s a whole bunch of them out there that you might be interested in trying. But which one is the coolest? You decide!
What can be accomplished in a week? How ambitious could you be if you spent seven days to accomplishing a single goal? These were the questions that Katy and Sara, two multilingual friends, asked themselves when they set out to learn English in one week to show that it can be done and that anybody can do it if they use the appropriate techniques.
They’d try to get away from the distractions and demands of contemporary life in order to squeeze in eight hours of study time, and I was seeing some of the world’s most accomplished language learners at work.
Sara is a language learning specialist.
To extend themselves, the buddies set themselves the goal of learning a language in a week, and then it was a matter of choose which language to study. English seemed like a reasonable choice; there are about 300,000 English speakers in Germany’s capital, and the streets are littered with English-language retail signage.
“To really comprehend one’s surroundings, one must first comprehend English.”
The first stage in the learning process for the pals was to cover the whole flat with sticky notes. The guys dived into dictionaries and proceeded to identify everything with its appropriate English name, giving it a ceremonial feel.
It was difficult to do any mundane operation, such as brewing coffee or turning off a light switch, in less than an hour without being provided with at least three distinct terms linked to this action.
Sara is studying at the park.
As Katy and Sara distributed responsibility for rooms to decorate with sticky notes, the necessity of the other twin’s presence became instantly obvious. This basic work was supplemented by constant tiny tests that they would throw on one another, and the fact that they divided their days somewhat differently and studied various things meant that each twin became a source of information for the other.
The most amazing thing happened at the conclusion of the week!
The companions simply switched to English in their ordinary chats, asking each other whether they needed tea or coffee, if they were ready to make supper, or if they were leaving the home.
Throughout the week, Katy and Sara faced various micro-challenges. They were visited by an English acquaintance on their first day, who welcomed them in English and commended them on how fast they had picked up their first words and phrases.
They subsequently studied the names of fruits as well as numbers from one to a billion in order to go to the English market (although they refrained from purchasing nine hundred thousand kumquats). They grinned with joy and a tangible feeling of achievement as they proudly displayed their collection after their first practical English exchange before marching back home to continue their studies.
Katy is practicing her audio lessons.
We discovered them trying hundreds of various types of English delicacies on our second visit to the brother’s residence, 24 hours into the week.
During snack breaks, the nutritional information and numerous special offers and contests on the packaging were scrutinized in the same way that youngsters scrutinized the backs of cereal boxes before going to school.
During the eight hours that the friends had set aside for it, there was no time when I was completely removed from the language learning process.
They were continually using their prior expertise to assist their ever-increasing English knowledge, which was the key to their success.
“You’ll mostly certainly come across terms that have similar roots to those in your home language.”
The companions spent a lot of time absorbed in books or on their laptops and apps, enthusiastically clicking and swiping their way through exercises, but they were also busy scouring the web for English radio stations and match reports for English football games.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to learning a language successfully.
People often attend their weekly language class to communicate with their instructor, but have little or no interaction with other speakers, which is insufficient.
If the difficulty we’re attempting to solve is learning a new language, the old adage that we can solve difficulties more successfully if we sleep on it may be particularly accurate.
Katy was inspired to go to the library.
Researchers from two Swiss universities sought to see whether exposing individuals to words from a foreign language during non-rapid eye movement sleep (the deep, dreamless sleep state that most of us experience during the first few hours of the night) may help them remember them better.
They collected two sets of research participants, all of whom were fluent German speakers, and gave them a series of Dutch-to-German word pairings to learn at 10 p.m. to find out. Then one group was told to go to bed, while the other was told to stay up. For the following few hours, both groups listened to an audio replay of word pairs they’d previously heard as well as ones they hadn’t.
At 2 a.m., the researchers collected both groups again and gave them a test of Dutch words to see whether there were any variations in learning. There was, in fact, a distinction:
“Those who listened to the words while sleeping performed a better job of remembering what they’d heard.”
The researchers used a simple but effective technique called verbal cueing, and this isn’t the first time it’s been claimed to work while sleeping. But what sets this research apart is that it focuses on the criteria that must be met for this technique to function, specifically, that it only works when we’ve previously been exposed to the verbal signals before going to sleep.
The internet is always beneficial.
Electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings of the sleeping participants’ brains were used to measure cerebral electrical activity throughout the learning period, giving the study a technological edge.
They discovered that learning the foreign words coincided with the appearance of theta brain waves, which is an intriguing finding because theta is the brain wave state often associated with heightened learning while awake (we’re usually in either the high-frequency, high-alertness alpha or beta states while awake, but it’s thought that concentration techniques can induce theta state at a slower frequency than alpha and beta).