From zero to hero – inspiring experiences and practical insight | Sagebook Hong Kong

From zero to hero – inspiring experiences and practical insight

Learning a new language is empowering. It allows us to connect with our ancestors or explore a different culture. It opens up your mind and enhances your creative thinking abilities! Often, adults think they’re too old for languages, but that’s not true. Follow this blog series where the Sagebooks Hongkong team shares knowledge about teaching children, and adults alike, and some of their best tips, so you can start learning a new language today.

學習外語能令人自我增值。它讓我們可以對自己的文化溯源、也可以去探索一種新的文化,還可以打破我們的思維框架,提升我們的創意思考能力。很多成了年的人或許會認為,自己要學習外語,已屬超齡了,但事實並非如此喔。在這個系列裏,思展團隊成員將一一與您分享他們教導孩子和成年人語言的經驗,送上一些他們學習語言的最佳秘訣,讓你也馬上可以開展新的外語學習之旅。

Writer Bio 作者簡介

Will F: From zero to hero – inspiring experiences and practical insight | Sagebook Hong Kong

Will F

Fo Shan 佛山

Will is a Software Engineer, fluent in Cantonese, Putonghua and English. Although he was born into a bilingual environment, speaking Cantonese at home and Putonghua in public, he was once a terrible language learner by the book. However, he eventually managed to overcome the language obstacles and completed his postgraduate degree abroad, in Melbourne, Australia. If you would like to pick up a new language, or have already lost faith in language-learning, it might be worthwhile to gain some insight from his experience.

Language learning tips 我的語文學習竅門

What was your experience with language learning as a child and an adult?

I believe that motivation is the primary factor that contributed to both my early failures and later achievements in language learning.

When I was at school, English was a mandatory subject. After studying English for 6 years in the public (middle and high) schools, however, I nearly failed the College Entrance Exam. Given that it was so irrelevant to my daily life, I regarded it as the most tedious and redundant subject. Memorising grammar and vocabulary was a nightmare from the start. My only purpose for studying English was for passing the exams. There was nothing interesting in English lessons, like the gripping stories in History, or the “magic” tricks in Chemistry and Physics. It was neither as tangible as Geography nor as mysterious as Biology. I had no interest in learning the language at all.

The turning point was when I had the opportunity to study abroad for my postgraduate degree. I had the required transcript, but my English remained a barrier. Until then, I had never even travelled across my home providence, yet I had a strong desire to explore the world. That impact was significant. All those tedious, undesirable emotions disappeared, and learning English became an enjoyable and purposeful routine. In one and a half years, I passed the Language Proficiency Test (something I had failed to achieve in my10 years of school education) and began my journey in Australia.

If you want to learn a language, I urge you to find your purpose, and hold onto it.

If you are to teach your child a second language, they will also need a purpose, one that they are deeply interested in. Special tips: for a child, having a successful career in the future is unlikely to be an incentive for them to want to learn a language.

Tell us your best tip for learning a new language as an adult.

Mindset Switch.

As an adult, we have already gotten used to one language mode. That is the language we use to solve problems, to analyse situations, to debate or to write an essay. Most of us are not usually aware of this fact. “If one wants to write a good essay in a second language, one must draft it in that language, instead of drafting it your first language and translating it over afterwards”. I don’t know who said it first, but it was an awakening moment when I first heard it. It was one of the most critical practices in my language learning journey. From that moment on, whenever I started to think about an idea, I tried do it in another language. It not only trains one’s language ability, but also exposes our weaknesses in that language. Achieving thinking in a second language mode is a sign of having conquered that language.

What are 3 things that you recommend doing regularly when learning a new language?

Language learning should never be just about the grammar and vocabulary. Rather, it’s the fascination of that hidden, long-standing culture behind the language. It opens the door to a new world.

Tips 1 – Entertaining. Watch TV series and movies; listen to broadcasts in that language.

Combining language learning with your favourite content would be a perfect treat between hardcore grammar sections. For instance, TV series like Friends provide an ideal environment to have a taste of the local culture, collect native expressions and imitate native speaking tones. For video content, I recommend adopting the following method depending on your language skills:

Level One: Watch it with bilingual subtitles (in both the target language and your first language).

Level Two: Watch it with only one subtitle (in your target language).

Level Three: Avoid looking at the subtitle entirely (except a quick glance when necessary)

Broadcast is also a great tool for language learning. You could listen to broadcasts in your target language, make it as part of your everyday life.

Tips 2 – Scripting. Learn words and phrases as if you would use them in your daily life.

When you encounter a new word/phrase, come up with a situation where you would use it yourself. Scripting your own context for each new word/phrase creates a stronger bond for you, compared to simply memorising it.

Tips 3 – Acting. Speak out loud with emotion; fake it till you make it.

While watching movies or listening to broadcasts, we can always find meaningful or interesting sentences that you would like to share or remember. Imitate the original and repeat it out loud, with emotion. It is the best practice to experience the feelings of the language.

Language Learning Activity 語文學習遊戲

Make a scene
What you will need
  • A video clip of your/child’s favourite Episode/Movie/Animation.
  • A video player, e.g. your mobile
  • An audio recorder, e.g. your mobile
How it works
  1. Play the video clip.
  2. As the video plays, try to imitate and speak out loud as if you were the speaker in the scene. Emotion is important.
  3. Record yourself and then listen to it.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 until you are satisfied with your performance.

我們會經常為大家探討漢字和語文的課題。
要是你有特別的相關課題希望我們探討,歡迎您告訴我們。

We discuss Chinese language and culture related topics on a regular basis.
If you would like us to discuss certain topics about Chinese, please let us know.

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Many parents are already part of our Facebook Group. If you’d like to take advantage of the collective wisdom of your fellow parents, please join us.

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Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.

Sagebooks Hongkong promotes independent reading and life-long learning by nurturing the child’s confidence, autonomy and self-teaching abilities. Since 2006. Find out more About Us.

© 2020 Sagebooks Hongkong. All rights reserved.