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Koine Greek is the most rewarding language I’ve ever studied.

Even out of all the spoken languages I’ve learned and traveled with (including fluent Arabic), nothing has been as deeply soul-satisfying as learning the language of the New Testament.

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on my time in college studying the language.

Looking back now, I can honestly say that my theological studies wouldn’t have been anywhere near as substantive had I of not invested in Greek the way I did.

It opened my eyes to so much and brought historical documents to life.

But not every student appreciates the value of biblical languages.

In fact, I’ve always found it odd when I meet seminary/Bible college students who choose not to take up Greek and Hebrew (or at the very least one of the two).

Even more odd is when seminaries don’t require Greek and Hebrew as prerequisites.

When I started Greek, it was actually the second year into my degree and at the time was considered an “elective” subject (meaning non-compulsory).

Many students naturally opted out.

I kept thinking to myself:

How on earth can you study something that you lack the ability to read?

You’re going to be forever relying on someone else’s flawed interpretation.

And while this applies to both the Old and New Testaments, it is especially true of Greek.

While Hebrew and to a much lesser extent Aramaic are vital to OT study, it should be absolutely paramount that every theology student learns Greek.

Anyone who teaches from a pulpit should have at minimum a few years of Koine Greek under their belt in my opinion.

So today I’ll share with you why I think Greek competency is paramount.

1. Koine Greek is the language of the founding document/s of your faith

That should end the argument right there.

Why do I believe Greek is more important than Hebrew or Aramaic?

Simple: The words of Christ and the apostles are recorded in this language.

First of all, let’s consider that other major religious movements venerate the importance of learning the original language of their founding documents or holy books.

Hebrew in Judaism, Arabic in Islam, Sanskrit in Hinduism, and even the Gurmukhi script in Sikhism for example.

And while it may not be obligatory for adherents of all these religions to learn to read the original text of their holy books, it can’t be denied that it’s extremely important to them.

But what about Christianity?

Well… first of all, we have to continually emphasize the difference between ‘word’ and ‘the Word’ in orthodox Christian theology.

Christians don’t worship scripture.

At least they shouldn’t.

Sidenote: Most evangelicals today forget that the NT is a collection of inspired writings by men pointing their readers to the only Word – a person, namely Christ. Inspired ≠ divine.

So I would never suggest that Koine Greek or Hebrew should be treated as ‘sacred languages’.

However, Christians (especially those who teach) should still afford their own founding documents a certain level of ‘linguistic veneration’ or respect.

Learning the original language is a way of stating:

These texts are so important to me that I care about what they actually say.

If you’d happily take the time to learn some Spanish on a trip to Mexico or French on a trip to Paris, then doesn’t the document you live by deserve some attention?

2. You can never truly empathize with the writers through a translation

I say this as someone who has worked in the field.

No matter how good the translator is, there is always something lost in translation.

Oftentimes it isn’t the words or meaning that get lost but something much deeper and more profound. These are cultural nuances that can only be understood or felt on an abstract level.

Think of your favorite novel in English.

Take a look at the way that the writer expresses him or herself through their articulation – it might not necessarily be the words themselves but the way those words are used.

Example 1: It may be a deliberate choice of one of several synonyms

Think of the conjunction ‘but’ in Koine Greek (one of the first you’ll encounter in any Greek course).

Most commonly: δέ and ἀλλά.

ἀλλά is much stronger and more emphatic than δέ – similar to the difference between “I like chocolate but I don’t like strawberry” and “I like chocolate BUT I don’t like strawberry.”

Both words convey the same general meaning in translation but the nuanced difference in their force and intention changes everything about the way they’re meant to be read.

Example 2: It may be the way they’re arranged in a sentence with intentionality

A good example of this is the placement of conditional clauses (protasis and apodosis) in Koine Greek.

Koine’s fairly predictable when it comes to conditionals – usually an “if” is placed before whatever the “then” is.

But occasionally you’ll come across a protasis (if) being intentionally inserted later in the sentence:

…and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

– Rom. 8:17

There are also different degrees of probability depending on the construction of the conditional.

This all matters to what the original writer was trying to convey and simply translating “if” doesn’t always cut it.

Example 3: It may be their deliberate proximity to other words

One example is John 12:25:

“Whoever loves his life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

‘Life’ x3 in one sentence in English.

Not in Greek.

The first two instances use the word ψυχή (which can refer to physical being or breath), while the third, ζωή, is immaterial life (eternal life).

So there’s a deliberately intentional contrast here between two very different concepts or states of life – one eternal and non-physical, and the other a fleshly, physical one.

You just don’t see that clearly in an English translation.

3. There are patterns and constructions that are missed or unclear in translations

As you progress with Greek and the language becomes more natural to you, you’ll start to appreciate the very different writing styles used by each author.

And not just styles but linguistic cues, markers and patterns.

These patterns and constructions are missed or easy to miss without the original text.

An example of this is the chiasmus that you see throughout the Scriptures.

This is a poetic or literary style that’s been used for thousands of years (of Hebrew origin?) that uses a terraced sequence to build up to a climax from an introductory point and then return to the original point to tie it up.

Easy example from Dobson (John 1:1-2):

Ἐν ἀρχῇ (A)

ἦν (B)

ὁ λόγος, (C)

καὶ ὁ λόγος

ἦν (D)

πρὸς τὸν θεόν, (E)

καὶ θεὸς

ἦν (D)

ὁ λόγος. (C)

οὗτος

ἦν (B)

ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. (A, E)

Even if you don’t know any Greek, you can spot a pattern here.

You can get a sense for it in the English too but it’s far clearer when you read the Greek.

While the Gospel (and letters) of John are the clearest examples, patterns similar to this are used all throughout the NT.

They are incredibly important because they highlight the focal points that the author is drawing your attention to.

4. You can’t make sense of history without it

A knowledge of Greek is essential to having a proper understanding of Church and more generally, European history.

There are a few major historical events that come to my mind as good examples.

Many of the divergent (or heretical) Christologies and their subsequent council responses could (in a sense) be all boiled down to translation.

Arianism‘s dent on history was enormous.

Side note: I once had an amazing debate with a Jehovah’s Witness (similar to Arianism) over the missing definite article in John 1:1. If I didn’t know Greek, there’s not a chance I could have argued my position.

This Christological heresy was based on Christ being ομοιούσιος (similar substance/essence) to the Father (in other words, a separate, created being).

In response, the First Council of Nicaea decreed that Christ is ομοούσιος (same substance/essence) as the Father (I should note that this concept was also part of an earlier anti-Trinitarian heresy called Sabellianism to say Father, Son and Holy Spirit are modal rather than distinct).

The only thing different about these two terms at a cursory glance is a single letter!

But the ramifications of that seemingly insignificant difference were massive.

Important: These later Greek terms were not biblical – they were employed over the centuries to wrestle with and make sense of Trinitarian and Christological mysteries.

As historians and theologians, we just can’t properly comprehend these arguments without Greek.

The other world-changing historical event that comes to mind is the schism between the Eastern and Western churches.

Most people wouldn’t be able to tell you how we ended up with Roman and Orthodox branches of the Church.

There were several reasons (including disagreement over the Pope).

But one of the main reasons why they separated came down to a translation.

The Westerners (now Roman Catholics), took the Nicene Creed (originally written in Greek in response to the heresies mentioned above), translated it to Latin and inserted a Latin word into the creed (filioque) meaning ‘and the Son’ (the Holy Spirit… who proceeds from the Father and the Son).

Seems harmless enough, right?

The issue with this (other than the fact that the Easterners did not like having a foundational document altered) was that the original Greek creed took the verb directly from John 15:26 (ἐκπορεύεται) — “to depart or come out of (the Father)” whereas the connotation of the Latin verb is where we get “proceed” from in English and stated “from the Father and the Son”.

At cursory glance it seems an incredibly small nuance but it was big enough that it broke the Church in half.

5. How do you grasp and respond to textual criticism?

Methods and philosophies that were once confined to the humanist social sciences have permeated throughout seminaries as well.

I’m referring to things like textual criticism and deconstruction.

Literally everything is picked apart and held under the microscope.

There are good and bad aspects to this.

On the one hand, critical analysis is healthy and leads to greater understanding.

Then on the other hand, faith requires eventually letting go and just believing what can’t be visibly verified.

Textual criticism of the NT had me questioning my own beliefs for years – if the earliest piece of Greek manuscript we have is 2nd century, then how can anything be trusted?

e.g. Who believes that the last chapter of Mark is authentic?

To put this into perspective:

It would be like me handwriting a copy of an original account in 2019 of something that happened back in the 1800’s and then someone picking that up in the year 4000 and believing every word of it!

This is essentially where we’re at.

But this is where Greek study is so important.

There are literally thousands of these Greek manuscripts from various geographical locations over a large period of time.

Imagine if that same handwritten copy of an account of mine, written in 2019, had 6000 copies all over the world written by different authors with insignificant variations.

Those 6000 independent copies that are almost identical would confirm and validate an original.

Knowing Greek is what gives you the ability to wade through and respond confidently to textual criticisms like these.

So there you go.

I usually keep my content specifically language-related but I thought this would be a fun topic to talk about today.

Did I get any information wrong or miss an important point?

Let me know in the comments below.

The post 5 Reasons Koine Greek Should Be Mandatory For Theology Students appeared first on The Mezzofanti Guild.

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I was recently contacted by Stefano Lodola, an Italian native, polyglot and language coach who runs a site called Fluent. Simple.

He created an Italian course called Ripeti Con Me! (Repeat With Me!) which he sent me partial review access to (the first 15 lessons) so I’m going to share some of my own insight after spending some time with it.

There are quite a lot of good Italian resources around (see here, here and here for example).

But it’s always refreshing to see attempts at trying new things.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t review an item on a whim if I’ve never previously heard of it, but given the fact that Ripeti Con Me! attempts to use a very a Glossika-esque approach (of which I’m a fan), I was curious to take a closer look at it and see how it compares to Glossika Italian.

Since I’ve only seen the first 15 lessons, I should emphasize that I’m unable to speak comprehensively on the depth of the entire course and higher levels here.

I’d estimate that I’m personally around an A2 level in Italian (I lived in Sondrio after my Russia stint and frequent the area), meaning that it’s a little hard to put myself in the shoes of a totally brand new learner of Italian using the program without any prior knowledge.

But hopefully this review this gives you some idea of the Ripeti Con Me! content and method.

NOTE: I reached out to Stefano with some questions but never heard back. If he replies, I’ll update this review with his responses to my interview questions.

Used Ripeti Con Me! before?

Share your experience below.

Innovation vs. imitation in language products (and does it matter?)

Oftentimes, you come across new language courses and products and it’s clear that they’re a clone or spin-off of something else.

Ripeti Con Me! doesn’t hide the fact that it’s trying to build on and “improve” Glossika’s method.

It seems clear that Stefano Lodola is personally fond of the Glossika approach (he shares this opinion on his website) but he saw issues in the Italian version that he wanted to rectify.

Here are some of the main (perceived) issues with Glossika Italian that Stefano draws attention to:

  • Native Italian speakers talk too fast
  • English and Italian sentences/translations don’t always match
  • Glossika uses a regional Italian accent (I wish he’d expand on this further and why it’s important)
  • Unnatural or awkward Italian sentences
  • Inadequate pauses between Glossika sentences
  • Sentences are too long

Ripeti Con Me! attempts to iron out these points and provide an improved Glossika derivative made by an Italian for learners of Italian (see my important comment on this below).

After some research, I found numerous comments online from Stefano that do indeed confirm that Ripeti Con Me! was motivated by and intended to follow the Glossika method.

From Reddit:

Only if you study Italian, I can recommend “Ripeti con me!”. I made it so I’m biased, but you can still check out the free preview on my website and judge for yourself.

My intent was to keep the method and fix those flaws.

I consider it an improved version of Glossika. It also happens to be more affordable.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, to be honest.

First of all, I don’t have an issue with building on and improving existing concepts – especially if the original concepts had room for improvement.

Many great innovations have been built on other people’s ideas.

But it’s still an ethical gray area for me.

It’s almost impossible to patent or trademark ideas and methods (something I have personal experience trying!), so there’s technically nothing stopping someone from “keeping the method” and creating something else with it.

But I know that Mike Campbell (Glossika’s founder) has spent decades using, improving and promoting his method.

It’s not a whimsical course that he put together overnight.

Speaking from personal experience, it frankly sucks when you put years of thought and love into an idea, only to have someone come along and reappropriate it (I’ve had this happen to me several times and it’s a crushing feeling).

Even if they’ve made it better.

This is why I often get frustrated with companies that put a fresh coat of paint on existing software and market the hell out of it (e.g. Babbel which very clearly emerged as an attempt at cloning Rosetta Stone).

I even wrote a whole article on the topic.

So while I admire that Ripeti Con Me! has been very clear and forthright about building on the concept of Glossika, the issue for me is whether or not it’s sufficiently unique and innovative.

What does Ripeti Con Me! provide?

Glossika was originally (may still be — I’m not sure) a book publisher.

The Glossika method came as either a printed booklet or a PDF with MP3 audio files of all the recorded sentences.

I made use of the Russian book when I lived in Russia.

As I said in my Glossika review, the company then moved toward a SaaS business model a short while ago, turning its books and audio into an interactive web app.

It’s the same identical course, content and method but with a gamified app that records progress and skills.

Ripeti Con Me! is packaged the same way as Glossika was originally.

You receive a PDF booklet of all the lessons and sentences (Italian with English translations underneath), and a collection of MP3 files (3 files — a, b and c — for each lesson).

There’s also another PDF that explains how to use it all.

The MP3 files are designed like this:

A: English is spoken. Italian translation given and repeated. No pause.

B: English is spoken. Pause given to allow you to translate. Italian translation spoken once.

C: Italian only.

The individual steps are laid out in the PDF instructions.

Interestingly, Stefano uses something called shadowing which I’ve talked about before.

This is something that’s done in simultaneous interpretation (where you’re interpreting as the native speaker is talking).

Shadowing is also used as a training exercise for people learning to simultaneously interpret.

It’s one of the more challenging activities you can do as a polyglot as it requires detailed attention to and comprehension of what you’re hearing while at the same time producing accurate interpretation in another language.

Course structure – where Ripeti Con Me! seems to completely diverge from Glossika

People often remark that Glossika seems to be just a random collection of sentences that don’t seem to make a whole lot of sense together.

You get asked to repeat sentences like this one:

Mike Campbell has talked a lot about the overall course and syntactical structure of his “sentence training”.

He discussed this at length in my Glossika review and interview.

He’ll also use terms like “algorithm” to explain how he’s worked out appropriate syntactical patterns to repeat.

I think the precise details of this are still a bit of a mystery.

Ripeti Con Me! seems to diverge completely from what Glossika does.

I went through the 15 lessons I was sent and was easily able to spot the patterns and grammar focus of each lesson. For example:

Lesson 1: Sei Italiano?

Most of the sentences here use patterns that include the verb ‘to be’. (I am, you are, he is, etc.)

Lesson 2: Ho sete!

These patterns show ‘to have’.

Lesson 3: Un gelato, due gelati

Singular and plural endings. Number agreement.

I think this is the most important point in terms of any comparison between the two programs.

Glossika has its own way of implicitly introducing these syntactic patterns.

Ripeti Con Me! is much more explicit.

So even though Ripeti Con Me! does not introduce a lesson saying, “Today we’ll look at how to say ‘you have’ something in Italian”, it’s pretty clear from a cursory glance what it’s trying to teach you.

Whether or not one is better than the other is no doubt subjective.

My only question is ‘what differentiates Ripeti Con Me! from simply extracting lesson sentences straight out of a grammar book?’

The audio is definitely slower and clearer in Ripeti Con Me! — Glossika is quite fast (natural speed).

Not being an expert or high-level speaker of Italian, I wish I could comment on the dialect or accent differences between the two but I do know that for some language editions, Glossika has been known to hire speakers with obscure/regional accents.

This is not always a problem necessarily but it needs to be stated clearly.

Pricing differences between Glossika Italian and Ripeti Con Me!

Like I said, Glossika moved over to a SaaS model so they provide a monthly subscription.

This works out to be $30 a month or about $25 a month if you pay annually up-front.

Ripeti Con Me! is a once-off downloadable purchase.

For the 15 absolute beginner lessons I got to try out, you’d pay €14.40.

For the entire collection, it’s €91.80.

Obviously more steep up-front but the advantage is you’re not paying for a subscription.

Benefits of getting a subscription service: progress tracking, access to all languages, constant updates and improvements, control over intervals, speed and ability to record your own voice.

The obvious disadvantage is that you don’t technically “own” what you paid for.

Sometimes it’s just nice to be able to put your MP3’s onto a portable device and play without having to log in to a site.

Native speakers don’t always know what’s best for learners

I thought I’d share a timely article/video that just came out on the I Will Teach You A Language blog.

Don't Take Language Learning Advice From Native Speakers | TROLL 001 - YouTube

Olly raised a pertinent point about native speakers and how they’re not always the best teachers of their own language. I’ve been saying the same thing for years.

Just because you speak a language natively, doesn’t mean you know how to teach it.

Important: a native speaker doesn’t necessarily know the struggles that learners are facing.

I’ve seen this countless times with Arabic.

Native speakers are often clueless when it comes to learner issues.

I thought this was timely advice as I was looking at Ripeti Con Me! and contemplating the exact same thing – Stefano sought to correct Glossika’s method from the perspective of a native speaker (which may or may not be directly relevant to learners of Italian).

Does this necessarily apply to Stefano and Ripeti Con Me!?

Not necessarily. Maybe.

I don’t actually know anything about Stefano Lodola in terms of his teaching experience (still waiting on his reply).

What I can say is that regardless of the method that Ripeti Con Me! uses, the sentences themselves are a valuable resource and could be a great listening resource on their own.

Being as inexpensive as it is, I would certainly use it (I personally recommend using its content for high-repetition listening as I demonstrated here).

Used Ripeti Con Me! before?

Share your thoughts below.

The post Ripeti Con Me! Review: Glossika Improvement Or Poor Imitation? appeared first on The Mezzofanti Guild.

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Today’s post comes from David Laws who runs an outstanding collection of Turkish language courses called Turkish Language House.

David’s also an internationally certified TEFL instructor, an avid language blogger and experienced travel photographer.

Over 11,000 people a month search for How to learn Turkish.

Quora has more than 50,000 users dedicated to learning the Turkish language.

There are at least 10 different Facebook groups with 15,000+ members whose sole purpose is Turkish language learning.

There are lots of really good reasons so many people are trying to learn Turkish.

To name a few, the U.S department of state has listed Turkish as a critical language for 2019, there are almost 100 million Turkish speakers worldwide, and Trip advisor has recently listed Turkey as one of the top 10 travel destinations in the world.

On top of all this, Turkish is one of the most unique and beautiful languages on the planet.

The problem is that Turkish is notoriously difficult and there are very few good resources available.

The fact is, thousands of people want to learn how to speak Turkish, but very few people know how to do it.

Ever since we launched Turkish Language House, there’s been one overwhelming challenge that we’ve heard from student after student before they enrolled in our program.

It usually sounds something like this:

Hey David, I’ve been living in Istanbul for ___ years and I STILL don’t feel comfortable in spoken conversations!

I know a lot of basic grammar and can get by in most conversations, but I just feel stuck. I’ve tried lots of resources but I don’t know what to do to finally become fluent in Turkish.

In other words, they easily passed the beginner stage and are now struggling with how to break through the intermediate level. Well fear not!

We’ve laid out the 4 best ways to overcome the intermediate slump and become a Turkish speaking extrovert.

1. Identify your weaknesses in Turkish

There are two major factors that you need to understand to identify your weaknesses in language learning.

The first one is psychological and the second one is linguistic.

I passionately believe that the number one reason language learners aren’t as fluent as they want to be is due to something called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

No, this isn’t some kind of disease or mental disorder – it’s a psychological phenomenon in which people feel more confident the less they know about a subject.

In other words, people who know less about a given topic actually feel more confident in their abilities than the experts.

In a 1999 study, David Dunning and Justin Kruger asked participants to perform a series of tests and then guess how well they had done on each activity.

They were shocked by what they found.

Every single time, no matter which skill was being evaluated, the people who performed the worst consistently ranked themselves higher than other participants. Additionally, those who performed the best were the most likely to underestimate themselves.

Why is this relevant to learning Turkish?

Because when we are trying to identify our weaknesses, we have to realize that we have a strong psychological tendency to overestimate our language ability. In fact, according to the data, the less Turkish you know, the more confident you’ll probably feel about yourself (which in this case is actually not a good thing).

It’s easy to think we know a grammatical topic because we can generally understand it in conversation, but are you actually able to produce that same form yourself and do you really understand what it means?

The first step in identifying weaknesses is to stay humble and recognize that they exist.

Now onto the linguistic side.

To understand your weaknesses in a language, you first have to understand how languages work.

Most of the people reading this have probably heard about the 4 basic language skills. According to linguistic research, there are four core communication abilities that are the foundation of all language learning.

They are reading, writing, speaking and listening.

These skills tend to function in pairs.

Two of them are primarily about receiving language (reading and listening) and are referred to as passive skills. The other two are primarily used to produce language (speaking and writing) and are referred to as active skills.

If you look deeper, there are a number of knowledge-based subcategories like vocabulary and grammatical competence.

These categories are important to pay attention to because the majority of students who are hitting walls in learning Turkish are doing so because they’re focusing on only one or two of these skills (and they’re usually choosing the wrong ones, but we’ll talk about that more in a second).

This tunnel-visioned approach leaves massive gaps in the other categories that needs to be addressed.

In other words, you need to diagnose exactly what area you need to improve in.

Most intermediate students have already spent time studying grammar and learning vocabulary, so they’re not going to improve much by taking a language course at a local university or spending hours and hours learning more words.

So our second step in identifying weaknesses is to understand how languages work and focus on the areas you really need.

2. Use your time wisely to learn Turkish more effectively

There are a million bad ways to try and learn a language.

Unfortunately, most of the resources that are out there cause students to spend their time the wrong way. Specifically, students tend to focus on learning about a language rather than learning the language itself (a concept Donovan has talked about extensively here at Mezzoguild).

My favorite analogy for this is baseball.

You can spend hours, months, or decades reading every book on the planet about how to hit a baseball. You can watch video after video after video of other people hitting a baseball.

You learn everything there is to know about the history of baseball.

But that doesn’t mean you can walk out on a baseball field, hold a big wooden bat, and hit a 90mph fastball.

The reality is if you want to truly learn Turkish, you need to think about your language learning efforts like an investment.

If you invest your time and money and effort into studying grammar rules (especially if you’re doing it in English), what’s the return on your investment going to be? (hint: it’s not real speaking ability).

To finally break through the intermediate threshold you need to use your time wisely by focusing on real spoken language and by using the right resources.

How do you do this?

First of all, it’s going to mean approaching the language in a way that feels uncomfortable and different. As westerners, we love to intellectualize things, but think of it like this – who are the most fluent speakers of any language on the planet?

Answer – people who learned as children.

10 times out of 10 I would stack up a 9 year old who grew up in Turkey over any foreigner who has studied the language.

This is because we are naturally hardwired to learn languages, we just go about it the wrong way most of the time as adults. If you want to get better at speaking and listening, then guess what you need to do?

SPEAK and LISTEN!

Language, at its core, is about communication, so look for ways to laser focus on real, authentic Turkish.

The unfortunate truth is that this feels really uncomfortable.

It is really intimidating to try and immerse yourself in a language and speak with locals when you don’t feel confident in yourself. It feels unproductive to watch kids shows in Turkish because it’s been ingrained in us that this isn’t what learning looks like.

Do whatever you need to do to remind yourself that the goal is spoken fluency – not knowledge about the language.

By the way, there are a lot of people who will tell you that this route is impossible.

For some reason people in the language learning world love to argue that adults can’t learn languages like children and we have to take an academic approach.

For the naysayers out there, I’m a living example that this works.

My wife and I literally learned Turkish by walking up to a guy in a Turkish cafe with a bag full of stick figure drawings and having him point to pictures and telling us what they meant.

He didn’t speak a word of English and we didn’t speak a word of Turkish.

Over time, we started to slowly understand more and more and eventually, we realized that we were starting to speak pretty naturally.

In fact, the only time I felt like my language learning was ineffective was when I tried to take a language class at a local school (which I bailed out of as soon as possible).

You can read the full story here.

The second step to using your time wisely is to use the right resources.

Unfortunately we can’t lay out every Turkish resource that exists, so instead we’ll give you some criteria for choosing the best ones (Anyone wanting a cheat sheet of our favorite resources can read more here).

When you’re trying to find resources that will help you break through your intermediate slump, ask yourself these three questions.

  1. Does this resource help me improve the specific areas I’m wanting to grow in?
  2. Does this resource focus on real, spoken Turkish?
  3. Does this resource approach the language in a way I haven’t tried yet?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then go for it. We always recommend diversifying your approach as much as possible.

So how do you use your time wisely with language learning?

By focusing on real, spoken Turkish and using resources that help you do so.

3. Learning Turkish requires mistakes. Lots of mistakes.

We all hate making mistakes. No one likes to look dumb in front of other people.

There is a part of our human nature that pushes us to hide our mistakes and cover up our weaknesses.

The thing is, this is absolutely devastating to the language learning process.

I once heard about a polyglot who was an incredibly gifted language learner and had functional fluency in over 10 languages. When asked about his “secret” to learning a language, he said this:

“I try to make 200 mistakes every single day”.

Yes, you read that quote correctly.

He tries to make hundreds of mistakes every single day.

Why on earth would someone intentionally try to mess up?

It’s because making mistakes is quite simply the single best thing you can do to learn a language, and I would argue it’s impossible to become fluent without making thousands of mistakes.

Mistakes show us the areas we need to grow in and provide feedback about our progress.

On top of this, it almost always provides an opportunity for the person you’re speaking with to correct you – which means now you know something you didn’t know 30 seconds earlier.

For example, let’s say I was trying to communicate “I like to play with my kids”.

You tend to get tripped up when trying to put two verbs in a sentence, but you give it a try and blurt out your best guess with:

Çocuklarımla oynamak seviyorum“.

After a quick look of confusion, your friend begins to realize what you were saying and naturally gives you the correct phrasing with something like:

Ahhh, ‘çocuklarımla oynamaYI seviyorum ‘ demek istedin“.

You’ve just gotten a free Turkish lesson from your friend and usually a fun memory as well.

While this involves swallowing our pride, if you were to take this approach over the course of a week, or month, or year, there would be literally thousands of these teachable moments that will refine and catalyze your language learning journey. This is the secret sauce for breaking through your intermediate slump.

There’s a popular quote by Thomas Edison about his process of trying to create the lightbulb, where he says:

“I have never failed. I have simply found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”

If you want to truly learn Turkish, be bold about trying to make mistakes. Don’t settle for the easiest way of saying something, but instead, try to really say the sentence you want to say.

If you make a mistake, take it as an opportunity to get feedback on where you need to grow and use that moment for a free Turkish lesson!

4. Learning the Turkish language is a lifetime pursuit

Here’s the dirty truth about language learning – there are no shortcuts.

Despite the fact that there are thousands of websites promising fluency in 7 days or an amazing new language hack that will have you speaking in no time, the reality is that language learning is hard work.

It’s similar to losing weight.

There are all kinds of pills and formulas promising magical weight loss, but the best way to lose weight is to eat healthy and exercise.

If you want to break through the intermediate wall, you have to dedicate yourself to the process, learn the material, interact with the language, and gain real experience.

We promise that with enough time you will get there!

Learning Turkish?

Visit Turkish Language House and check out their material (beginner and higher-level content available).

The post Learning Turkish: How To Improve Beyond The Beginner Level appeared first on The Mezzofanti Guild.

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Arabic "white language" demystified [Response to Prof. Arguelles' 'Arabic Unity' video] - YouTube

 
I received an email recently from a subscriber who shared a video interview with me from Alexander Arguelles’ YouTube channel on the Arabic language.

Professor Arguelles is an American professor working somewhere in Emirates and he seems to speak fluent MSA (Modern Standard Arabic).

The interview was between him, an Algerian woman and a Syrian woman (who I assume are his coworkers).

In the video, they talked briefly about spoken dialect differences, Modern Standard Arabic and something that Arabic speakers call “white language”.

I explain in the video above what this term means.

What is Arabic ‘white language’ and is it useful to learners of Arabic?

Simply put:

‘White language’ is basically when native Arabic speakers change their speech to be closer to MSA in order to be understood by speakers from a very different geographical region (e.g. Algeria and Syria).

The spoken dialects of these two countries are vastly different (see TalkInArabic.com for samples of these differences) and present challenges for mutual comprehension between speakers.

So native speakers will use an adaptation of Modern Standard Arabic which they refer to as ‘white language’ in order to be universally understood.

It’s not 100% MSA strictly speaking but it’s like a blend of their own colloquial language and accent with MSA.

Speakers who are geographically and linguistically closer (e.g. Egyptians and Palestinians) generally do not need to do this.

This is not a creole or a separate language of its own – just an adjustment in speaking style much the same way that an Australian will adjust words and expressions to be understood by Americans in English.

Since it’s not a language separate to colloquial dialects and MSA, it’s not something you can buy a textbook on and learn how to speak (Arguelles raises this question in the interview).

As for whether or not a student should learn MSA or a spoken dialect first, I still say that in most cases the answer is a spoken dialect.

Nobody anywhere speaks MSA as a native language (read more here).

What are your thoughts? Comment below.

The post How Arabic Speakers From Different Countries Understand Each Other appeared first on The Mezzofanti Guild.

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Globalism has ruined adventure and is making the world boring - YouTube

 
In today’s (rather dark and nefarious-looking) video, I share something I’ve been reflecting on for quite a while as a new parent which has made me increasingly sad the more I realize it.

Here it is:

We are at a point in history where we have discovered literally every place, people and culture on this earth.

This is really the first time in human history that we can honestly say we’ve dominated every corner of our planet. We can look at any square inch of ground in any country on any continent at any time of the day with a simple swipe of our finger (e.g. Google Maps).

Nothing is new anymore.

Think about that for a moment.

Even for people growing up just a few decades ago there was at least some sense of awe and wonder about remote places and people. There was an appreciation of the “otherness” of what lies beyond our own boundaries.

I just don’t know if my son’s generation and onward will ever fully experience that. No child in future will ever aspire to discover the unknown because there is no unknown (space excluded obviously).

Technology has made a guy living in a remote town far away no different to the guy living down the street.

The implications for language learning and cultural immersion

Those who favor this trajectory believe that it’s helping cultural and linguistic diversity.

In fact, the complete opposite is true.

The more the world becomes interconnected, the more homogeneous and boring we all start to become.

The world becomes dull.

In the video above, I ask the question:

“How will this affect language learning decades from now?”

I think this is a really important and relevant question to start asking.

What are your thoughts?

The post Global Homogeneity Has Made The World Boring And Ruined Adventure appeared first on The Mezzofanti Guild.

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