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The Secret to Quicker Foreign Language Learning – “Milk Before Meat”

In this article I will tell you the secret to learning a language quicker. It is not so much a secret, as it is an overlooked truth. However, if properly handled, this secret can turn the tedious and sometimes daunting task of learning a foreign language into an exciting, fun and fulfilling endeavor / adventure.

In the pursuit of any language mastery, you must have an understanding of what is meant by the phrase, “Milk before meat”. You cannot expect to learn something difficult or complicated, or expect to eat meat with fully-grown canines and flesh piercing teeth before you are able to ingest the milk from a tender mother’s breast. Therefore, it is wise for any language learner to begin at the beginning, and spend some time there… and hang out…even they should try singing songs about the alphabet. Alphabets being the small parts of a language that when strung together form words, and make meaningful communication. Languages are dynamic, living organisms.  Learning the alphabet or syllabary for the language you are learning right now will make your progress and improvement in that language easier later by doing so Language of desire.

Wherein lies the  key to a language’s mastery? If an alphabet is available for the language… don’t wait… START STUDYING IT!  The best way for a beginning Japanese language learners or any beginning second language learner to become more familiar with that language is by studying, and saying in your mouth, the little parts of the language, saying repeatedly over and over the phonemes that make up the particular sounds found in that language. Practice the alphabet unwaveringly. This we all do naturally in our native tongue without even thinking about it. Careful study of the smallest and simplest parts of a language will be the milk before the meat. Once you know how to drink milk, then and only then, will you be ready to move on to more complicated matters such as eating meat, and polite grammar etc..

As a child, who does not remember singing an alphabet song, reading a book for the first time, looking up a word in the dictionary for the first time, or just catching yourself singing the alphabet song when others sing it, or finally realized that alphabetical order is the way the dictionary puts words into their proper place in line. Language is something that is learned, we are not just born speaking. Learning the alphabet in another language is the first step towards understanding the target language. Please take a moment to reflect on the first times you sang ‘The Alphabet Song’, or recited your A,B,C’s. Now reflect upon how you came to know that 5 X 5 is = 25.  I know that if you gain a solid grasp of the Japanese Syllabary, the 46 syllables that make up all the sounds of Japanese then learning Japanese will be as a piece of cake for you. It will be easy to learn Japanese.

That’s it! The trick to learning Japanese or any foreign language starts with learning the symbols that represent the sounds and meaning of the words that make up a language. Learn how these sounds are written usually made up of some sort of alphabet or syllabary. In the case of the Japanese language, their alphabet, is not an alphabet because it is not made up of just letters, it is made up of syllables. There are 46 syllables in Japanese, and even though it is more than the number of letters in the English language (English letters in the alphabet = 26) it really is not that many once you see how it is set up.

The Japanese syllabary consists of 46 syllables and represents all sounds necessary for the formation of any Japanese word. It is just like the English’s Alphabet but it is called the GOJUON, or chart of the 50 sounds. The GOJUON is grouped in a way that facilitates learning of Japanese, especially the adjectives. Endings of adjectives follow the first 5 syllables or the Japanese vowels; a, i, u, e , o. I admonish any aspiring Japanese language learner to study the 46 syllables of the GOJUON or Japanese alphabet in earnest.

By the time we are 12 years of age, we usually forget how we came to be able to speak and utilize the English language and are so familiar with the Alphabet that we have forgotten that it was due to its recitation that we would know what we know. Reading and Writing are two sides of a coin that are wholly influenced by its contributing language’s Alphabet as are Speaking and Listening to a lesser extent.

We take for granted our knowledge of the alphabet so that it becomes more difficult for us to learn other languages. In order to be a successful second language student we must become in essence, like children.  For the purposes of learning how to read, write, speak and listen in English, it was necessary to study the core of the language at first, and that was The Alphabet. A good way to get at the core, or the heart of a language is by studying its alphabet. We can do that in a similar or even the same way you would learn your times tables. How much did you get for memorizing your times tables? Offer yourself a cookie and say to yourself, “If I start my Japanese study (or any language study) by learning the syllables that make up their words then I will be ahead of the learning game later on when it really gets complicated.

The old adage ‘Milk before meat…’, applies to language acquisition as well. A house built on a solid foundation lasts longer and  performs better. In other words, those persons desirous of the ability to speak in Japanese or any other language and are desirous to communicate effectively in that language study simple now and build their language tower of power. Just like practicing the piano, we don’t want to cheat ourselves out of learning Japanese and retaining it well by only skimming over the milk! We need to lap the milk.Your parents, masters, or  mentors may have promised you $5 if you memorized the times tables up to 12, but you can also do it for free…on your own… and you can reward yourself with a nice big surprise when you fulfill all your language goals.

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