November 24, 2007

Steve Kaufmann

Steve Kaufmann is a Canadian diplomat-turned-businessman. He did not speak a second language until he was 17-years old. Now at the age of over 60, he can speak 10 languages fluently, and he is still picking up some new ones. Steve's philosophy on language learning very much contrasts the traditional classroom-based methodology. He has converted his ideas into implementation with his brainchild - the LingQ system.

At the time of writing, LingQ is only available for several European languages and Japanese. Cantonese and other Asian languages will hopefully become available some time in the year of 2008.

Steve shares a lot of his opinions and ideas on language learning on his blog. Here are some key concepts in Steve's approach to language learning:

  1. Seek ways to make the process of language learning enjoyable
  2. Focus on listening and reading. Speaking and writing will come naturally
  3. Detailed grammar explanations are futile
  4. Forget about tests and homeworks
  5. Grow your vocabulary. This is the key to success
Steve learnt Cantonese at the age of 53. He only took about 6 months to reach a satisfactory level of fluency, partly thanks to his solid Mandarin foundation. He rarely speaks the language today. Earlier this week, he was gracious enough to make a short video clip in Cantonese at my request. In the clip, he talked about some important aspects of language learning.



Transcript / Jyutping / Translation


噉我試吓啦用廣東話啦講吓
gam2 ngo5 si3 haa5 laa1 jung6 gwong2 dung1 waa2 laa1 gong2 haa5
Let me try to speak in Cantonese about

我對於學習語言嘅呢個睇法啦
ngo5 deoi3 jyu1 hok6 zaap6 jyu5 jin4 ge3 nei1 go3 tai2 faat3 laa1
My opinion in language learning

我覺得呢學語言呢,最緊要呢係要有樂趣
ngo5 gok3 dak1 ne1 hok6 jyu5 jin4 ne1,zeoi3 gan2 jiu3 ne1 hai6 jiu3 jau5 lok6 ceoi3
I think when learning a language, the most important thing is to have fun

即係要有意思,點解呢?
zik1 hai6 jiu4 jau5 ji3 si1,dim2 gaai2 ne1?
Have meaning. Why?

因為你做任何(任何)事件呢
jan1 wai6 nei5 zou6 jam6 ho4 (jam6 ho4) si6 gin2 ne1
Because when you do anything

如果你可以即係鍾意呢
jyu4 gwo2 nei5 ho2 ji5 zik1 hai6 zung1 ji3 ne1
If you can love it

你就會用更多嘅時間做呢啲嘢喇
nei5 zau6 wui5 jung6 gang3 do1 ge3 si4 gaan3 zou6 ni1 di1 je5 laa3
You will spend more time doing it

所以如果係你,你學習語言嘅方法係好(好)麻煩
so2 ji5 jyu4 gwo2 hai6 nei5,nei5 hok6 zaap6 jyu5 jin4 ge3 fong1 faat3 hai6 hou2 (hou2) ma4 faan4
So if it is you, your language learning method is very tedious

好討厭呢,你又唔鍾意做嘅
hou2 tou2 jim3 ne1,nei5 jau6 m4 zung1 ji3 zou6 ge3
Very annoying, and you don't like to do it

好似普通喺學校嗰度佢哋教語言嗰個方法呢
hou2 ci5 pou2 tung1 hai2 hok6 haau6 go2 dou6 keoi5 dei6 gaau3 jyu5 jin4 go2 go3 fong1 faat3 ne1
Just like normally at school, their methods of teaching languages

係多數啲人唔係幾鍾意架
hai6 do1 sou3 di1 jan4 m4 hai6 gei2 zung1 ji3 gaa3
Many people don't like them very much

所以佢唔願意,佢唔想學
so2 ji5 keoi5 m4 jyun6 ji3,keoi5 m4 soeng2 hok6
So they don't want to learn

所以除咗係(係)上課嘅時候以外呢
so2 ji5 ceoi4 zo2 hai6 (hai6) soeng5 fo3 ge3 si4 hau6 ji5 ngoi6 ne1
So outside the classes

就乜都唔做喇
zau6 mat1 dou1 m4 zou6 laa3
They won't do anything

上學校呢或者係勉強啦
soeng5 hok6 haau6 ne1 waak6 ze2 hai6 min5 koeng5 laa1
At school, perhaps they will try

若果係同其他啲學生喺一齊呢
joek6 gwo2 hai6 tung4 kei4 ta1 di1 hok6 saang1 hai2 jat1 cai4 ne1
If they are with other students

咪要去出少少呢個力去(去)試吓啦
mai6 jiu3 heoi3 ceot1 siu2 siu2 ne1 go3 lik6 heoi3 (heoi3) si3 haak5 laa1
They might spend a little bit of effort trying

不過呢一返屋企呢又乜都唔做喇
bat1 gwo3 ne1 jat1 faan2 uk1 kei5 ne1 jau6 mat1 dou1 m4 zou6 laa1
But when they get home, they won't do a thing

多數啲學語言啲人都係噉樣架喇
do1 sou3 di1 hok6 jyu5 jin4 di1 jan4 dou1 hai6 gam2 joeng2 gaa3 laa3
Most language learners are like that

返屋企乜都唔做
faan1 uk1 kei2 mat1 dou1 m4 zou6
They don't do a thing at home

不過我嘅經驗就係真嘅
bat1 gwo3 ngo5 ge3 ging1 jim6 zau6 hai6 zan1 ge3
But from my experience, which is real

我係上學校嘅時候就係唔重要架
ngo5 hai6 soeng5 hok6 haau6 ge3 si4 hau6 zau6 hai6 m4 zung6 jiu3 gaa3
I don't consider the time at school important

我返屋企嘅時候就重要喇
ngo5 faan2 uk1 kei5 ge3 si4 hau6 zau6 zung6 jiu3 laa3
My time at home is important

我返屋企呀用幾多時間呢睇書啦
ngo5 faan2 uk1 kei5 a3 jung6 gei2 do1 si4 gaan1 ne1 tai2 syu1 laa1
At home, I spend a lot of time reading books

聽呢個錄音機啦
teng1 ni1 go3 luk6 jam1 gei1 laa1
Listening to the recorder

呢啲嘢呢係最會影響到我
ni1 di1 je5 ne1 hai6 zeoi3 wui5 jing2 hoeng2 dou2 ngo5 nam2
These things determine, I think

就係可唔可以去學習語言
zau6 hai6 ho2 m4 ho2 ji5 heoi3 hok6 zaap6 jyu5 jin4
if I can carry on learning

所以我話呢點樣可以
so2 ji5 ngo5 wa6 ne1 dim2 joeng6 ho2 ji5
So, I would say, how

唔係話要迫人哋學
m4 hai6 wa6 jiu3 bik1 jan4 dei6 hok6
Not to force people to learn

點樣可以鼓勵人哋去學語言呢
dim2 joeng6 ho2 ji5 gu2 lai6 jan4 dei6 heoi3 hok6 jyu5 jin4 ne1
But to encourage them to learn languages

就要(要)整得好玩,有樂趣架
zau6 jiu3 (jiu3) zing2 dak1 hou2 waan2, jau5 lok6 ceoi3 gaa3
Is to make it fun, enjoyable

所以呢我覺得對於教語言啲人呢
so2 ji5 ne1 ngo5 gok3 dak1 deoi3 jyu1 gaau3 jyu5 jin4 di1 jan4 ne1
So I think for the language teachers

點樣可以刺激人哋
dim2 joeng6 ho2 ji5 ci3 gik1 jan4 dei6
How to stimulate others

點樣可以幫佢哋覺得有樂趣啦
dim2 joeng6 ho2 ji5 bong1 keoi5 dei6 gok3 dak1 jau5 lok6 ceoi3 laa1
How to help them feel the fun

呢個係最重要架
n11 go3 hai6 zeoi3 zung6 jiu3 ga3
This is the most important

如果你可以噉樣鼓勵人哋
jyu4 gwo2 nei5 ho2 ji5 gam2 joeng2 gu2 lai6 jan4 dei6
If you can encourage people this way

即係整到佢哋自己覺得好有興趣,好有樂趣呢
zik1 hai6 zing2 dou3 keoi5 dei6 zi6 gei2 gok3 dak1 hou2 jau5 hing3 ceoi3,hou2 jau5 lok6 ceoi3 ne1
Make it so that they can feel by themselves, it is very interesting, very enjoyable

佢哋會自己去學
keoi5 dei6 wui5 zi6 gei2 heoi3 hok6
They will learn by themselves

噉呢佢哋會用好多時間聽呢個語言
gam2 ne1 keoi5 dei6 wui5 jung6 hou2 do1 si4 gaan3 teng1 ni1 go3 jyu5 jin4
They will spend a lot of time listening to the language

睇書啦,睇呢個語言
tai2 syu1 laa1,tai2 ni1 go3 jyu5 jin4
Reading books, reading the language

去用呢個語言同人講嘢吖
heoi3 jung6 ni1 go3 jyu5 jin4 tung4 jan4 gong2 je5 aa1
Talking to people using the language

所以唔係其他,唔係呢個咩嘢文法啦
so2 ji5 m4 hai6 kei4 ta1,m4 hai6 ni1 go3 me1 je5 man4 faat3 laa1
So it is nothing else, not the grammar

唔係呢啲Drills, exercises
m4 hai6 n11 di1 Drills Exercises
Not the drills or exercises

唔係呢啲嘢喇
m4 hai6 ni1 di1 je5 laa3
Not all these things

即係點樣可以幫嗰個學生
zik1 hai6 dim2 joeng2 ho2 ji5 bong1 go2 go3 hok6 saang1
How to help the students

或者如果你係自己係學習語言
waak6 ze2 jyu4 gwo2 nei5 hai6 zi6 gei2 hai6 hok6 zaap6 jyu5 jin4
Or if you are learning by yourself

你點樣可以即係搵嗰個(覺得)你覺得
nei5 dim2 joeng2 ho2 ji5 zik1 hai6 wan2 go2 go3 (gok3 dak1) nei5 gok3 dak1
How you can find what you feel are

有意思,有樂趣嘅學習嘅辦法
jau5 ji3 si1,jau5 lok6 ceoi3 ge3 hok6 zaap6 ge3 baan6 faat3
Methods that are meaningful and enjoyable

呢個係最重要架
ni1 go3 hai6 zeoi3 zung6 jiu3 ga3
This is the most important thing

好,噉呢,係咁多啦
hou2,gam2 ne1,hai6 gam3 do1 laa1
Ok, so that is it.

3 comments:

dada said...

啫係, ze1 hai6, should be 即係, zik1 hai6, that is.
鐘意, should be 鍾意
免強, should be 勉強
For all gam2, 咁 should be 噉
影響倒 should be 影響到
好,咁呢,係噤多啦 should be 好,噉呢,係咁多啦

Edwin said...

Updated. Thanks, dada, for taking your time for proof-reading.

david said...

好犀利..