There is that wonderful story of a Chinese girl who moves to the United States and goes to kindergarten for the first time in her new country. When it comes time for herturn to speak aloud in class, she freezes up, knowing that what little English she does know will sound very different to the ears of all those around her. Eventually, she finds some relief in reading exercises, because when reading aloud at least you don't have to make up what you're going to say. But even that relief is short-lived, for she has to stop for an awkward pause each time she sees thepronoun 'I.' It makes no sense to her. She thinks, in Chinese, when you write that first person pronoun, you have to use seven strokes. It's quite an intricate and important character. How come this 'I' only has three? The story is in a collection called 'Tongue Tied,' and it offers up an appropriate point of departure for those about to embark on a language learning journey or those who have foundthemselves stuck somewhere along the way. Whether you're baffled by word order in Japanese or bemused by cases in German, whether the notion of Chinese tones strikes a chord of fear in you, or you recoil at the thought of the rolling Italian 'R,' you too may have found yourself tonguetied when learning a second language. That might mean simply not understanding some new rule or convention in thelanguage that has no easy analogue in English, tripping up on occasion when you're trying to string new words together out loud, or maybe even being so gripped with nerves that you are unable to try out your new phrases out loud, out there, in the real world.
The Rocket Languages Guide to Astronomical Language Learning is designed to help those ofyou who are committed to learning a new language untie your tongue and get started. It is meant to help you gain the direction and confidence you need to make substantial progress in the shortest possible time. Many - if not most - language learners can share a story about a less than successful attempt to learn a second language in school. Many of you simply had to take a second language inschool, but even those who opted to pursue a language in high school or beyond often have horror stories about having to repeat obscure phrases in unison until you reached a state of near hypnosis, being drilled to death with grammar rules, or learning an entire conjugation table for a verb before you learned how to say… Help! Statistics show that less than 5 percent of U.S. students studying a...