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The Language Secret: How to Learn a Foreign Language


John Stedman speaks 10 languages. How did he do it? He discovered The Language Secret. And the secret is now out!


“What do you call someone who speaks three languages?”


“What do you call someone who speaks two languages?”


“What do you call someone who speaks one language?”


The authors of this book spent many years as linguists in Africa XE “Africa – which is where we first heard the joke that begins this introduction – and frequently met people who spoke eight, nine or ten languages XE “multilingualism. Most of these people would not consider themselves remarkable in any way. Some of them could not even read. But, unwittingly, all of them had stumbled upon The Language Secret. And it is our pleasure to reveal it to you in the pages that follow.

None of the information we are about to present is new or unknown in academia. It is, however, almost entirely absent from language teaching in classrooms, and lamentably under-used in self-help language books. Some very simple, but powerful ideas and linguistic discoveries have remained a secret to non-specialists. But The Language Secret should be available to everyone who wants to know it.

In the course of our quest for answers we shall be meeting and learning from a varied cast of characters including Inspector Clouseau XE “Clouseau, Jacques” t
Sellers, Peter
 (he of Pink Panther fame), Harold XE “Harold II of England”  Godwinson and his nemesis William the Conqueror XE
“William the Conqueror”
, Lemmy XE “Kilmister, Lemmy”  from Motörhead XE “Motörhead” , Dick Van Dyke XE “Van Dyke, Dick” , Nimrod XE “Nimrod”  the Hunter and Jane Birkin XE “Birkin, Jane” . Seriously. One of the neglected tools in the language-acquisition toolbox is humour XE “humour” . And although we shall be employing that instrument to the full, do not be deceived: this is an academically rigorous book.

If you do want to learn another language, and you have ever asked yourself any of the following questions, read on. This book is for you.

·         How long does it take to learn a language?

·         What is grammar, and do I really have to learn it?

·         Can only “gifted XE “gift:“gift” of tongues” “ people learn languages?

·         Why have my previous attempts at learning a language ended in disappointment?

·         Are there any shortcuts XE “shortcuts”  to communicating quickly and effectively in other languages?

·         Since everyone speaks English anyway, why make the effort to learn another language?

·         Are some languages easier to learn than others?

This modest tome will not, though, make you a specialist in any one language. There are plenty of self-help books and exhaustive grammars available if you want to master any particular tongue. But what we will do is show the principles that apply to learning all languages, any language.

And in case you don’t want to plough through the next 200-odd pages to discover the secret, here it is in one sentence: If you want to communicate well in another language, you first have to learn to speak it badly.

Not as easy as it sounds. But we can show you how.

Let us begin.


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