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Art and Science of Learning Languages [Hardcover]

Amorey Gethin , Erik Gunnemark
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Intellect Books (26 Jun 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 187151648X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1871516487
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 17.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,210,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Synopsis

Offers a framework for learning any language and provides the arguments as to why anyone should do so, as well as examining the merits of various methods of language learning. The key message of the book is the importance of self-reliance based on a positive approach and efficient organization. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting but, ultimately, unhelpful book. 26 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I bought this book after struggling to get a grip on my Japanese language studies for about a year. Having now read the book, I feel it would have been more helpful if the title was changed to something along the lines of '3 rules for learning languages: choose an easy language; develop an obsesive interest in it; and then move to a country which speaks it.' The length of the book could then have been halved.
That is not to say that there isn't plenty to interest here, particularly if you have an interest in the development of, and similarities between, languages. But if you are hoping to discover something that you probably couldn't have worked out for yourself about study methods and exposure to language; or you have already chosen the language you want to learn (and it is not that closely related to the language you already speak), then you probably shouldn't waste be wasting your money here.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thought this book was excellent. It is about exactly what it says - learning a language (as against being taught a language).

Moving away from what teachers do in classrooms round the world - which so often leads to failure and disgust and often the sentiment that one is 'bad at languages' - this book proposes that students have to actively LEARN the language and then shows how good language learners do it. Not by learning lots of vocabulary, as teachers seem to think, but by putting the accent on what is important - for example, just 40 little words make up 50% of spoken English, so they are the ones to learn. In other languages, there are the same few little words which must be thoroughly mastered. The principle is demonstrated and examples are given for several languages.

I would recommend this book to any language learner, and also to any language teacher. Teachers, if you really want your students to learn, don't do what the curriculum or the methods tell you to do. Do what this book says.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars worth ten times its weight in language tapes 8 Oct 2011
By wch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Over the last twenty years, I've taught myself a little German, a little Czech and a bit more Italian. I wasn't very good at any of them, though I managed to get around, buy meals and not get arrested in Germany, Prague and most of Italy. Along the way, I bought a lot of different software, language courses, dictionaries and phrase books and looked at a lot of book and websites about learning languages.

Most of it was a waste of money and time. Given that all that stuff was designed or written by "experts" I figured I was the problem. I decided I just didn't have an "ear" for languages and would never be better than a ten day tourist with a phrase book and an atrocious accent.

A couple of years ago, I decided to learn Tibetan and I started as I had in my previous language acquisition attempts. I wasted a lot of time, got stuck in the same ways, made many of the same mistakes. If anything the proliferation of web sites that allegedly support language learning made my attempt even more muddled as so much of the advice seem contradictory or just plain dumb. I seemed to be on track to have another two hundred word, twenty phrase vocabulary that wasn't good for much but ordering meals, finding a bus station or asking about the weather.

Then I found this book. It is the one of the two most pragmatic and useful primers on learning to productively read, write and speak a language that I have found. (The other is Speak Like A Native: Professional Secrets for Mastering Foreign Languages) Written by two people who have been learning and teaching language for decades, it is filled with useful advice, methods and suggestions for acquiring a new language. As importantly, the authors talk about what doesn't work and why, information I found incredibly helpful. The authors focus on how to develop real world fluency in speaking, reading and writing, with an emphasis on self-teaching. They make it clear that fluency is a matter of work rather than "a talent for language" and offer lots of practical out-of-classroom ways for acquiring it.

The book also has an excellent table of contents and index, along with a set of appendices of grammars and lexicons that can be used to as models for developing your own learning materials. It is an easy to use reference for problem solving and handy for learning new ways to approach tasks like vocabulary learning. Above all, it is pragmatic: the authors talk about what works and what doesn't, how long things take, how much time things take. An interesting feature of the book is the author's decision to present their methodology differences, so for example, they offer two different approaches to learning basic grammar.

While I may not agree with all of their opinions or use all of the methods they offer, I have found Gethin and Gunnemark's "Art and Science of Learning Languages" to be indispensable. It has fundamentally changed - and improved - the way I study language and it shows in the progress I am making in learning Tibetan.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is excellent, but this price is stupid... 25 Jan 2013
By Mihran Kazandjian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is indeed replete with ideas and methods that will save you a tremendous amount of time when you go to learn a language. That's not to say that the you'll learn the language in 'ten days' like the asinine Pimsleur advertisements, but rather that you won't waste as much time on exercises and language 'learning' filler and instead focus on more useful methods. This book is not about making language learning easy or painless, but about making you, the learner, understand what you realistically need to do to learn a language.

Of course, the current price on Amazon ($600+) is stupid. Until Amazon gets a Kindle version, go get the book in a digital format at Google for $10:
[...]
5.0 out of 5 stars Structure and practical advice 27 Mar 2013
By Vince Towers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
No more waste of time trying no-useful technics. Fair price. The book arrived faster than I expected. Trust on this vendor.
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