Anybody Can Learn a Foreign Language in 6 Months

In a rapidly changing world, modern society is constantly on the lookout for new information, knowledge and skills.  New Zealand psychologist and linguist Chris Lonsdale has submitted to this cause a method to unravel the mystery of “Six months from 0 to fluency in any foreign language”.

Mr Lonsdale’s original TEDx lecture video has sparked a lively online debate, with many people sharing their own experience of how these methods have helped them to learn language such as French, German, Chinese, Spanish and Portuguese.  Other comments on the video include: “it is this type of presentation that makes the TED brand is so powerful” and “I have learned more from this video than reading 1,000 books”.

Through purely organic means, the video has achieved almost 1,000,000 hits in the past 3 months.  The lively debate and and wide variety of viewpoints is testament to the interest in this topic from all walks of life.

Chinese Internet portals have been quick to take notice.  China’s biggest technology company, Tencent, invited Mr Lonsdale to become the first ever foreign teacher to appear on their “Outstanding Lectures” (精品课) platform.  The video series has enjoyed more than 116,000 hits in just 10 days since it was released, with the vast majority of viewers leaving enthusiastic praise.

Another big portal, Sohu, has featured the original TEDx video presentation (with Chinese subtitles added), on their education home page:

Through these mediums, many people will benefit from the knowledge of how to quickly master a foreign language.  In Mr Lonsdale’s presentation, he shares five principles and seven actions that are the key to rapid acquisition of a foreign language.

Five principles:

  1. Start with every-day content that is relevant to you personally.
  2. Start using your target language as a tool to communicate from day one.
  3. When you understanding the meaning, you will sub-consciously acquire the language.
  4. Language learning is about physiological training, not simply the accumulation of knowledge.
  5. Your mental and emotional state is very important.  Stay relaxed and enjoy the process, and develop a tolerance for ambiguity.  Do not obsess over the parts you can’t understand … that will only drive you crazy!

Seven actions:

  1. Lots of Listening.  It is not important to understand everything at the beginning, but listening a lot will help you to identify the rhythm and patterns of your target language.
  2. Start with the Bigger Picture.  Establish the overall meaning of the communication, and then drill down to individual words.  Use body language and facial expressions to help you quickly grasp the intended meaning.
  3. Start Mixing.  Mix together the words you already know to communicate as much as you possibly can.
  4. Concentrate on the Core.  Start with the high-frequency words and then use what you have to methodically master new topics.
  5. Find a Language Parent.  A good language parent should be a fluent speaker of your target language and be willing to try to understand as much of what you can say as possible.  Rather than overtly correct your mistakes, a language parent will provide supportive feedback by modeling correct usage of the language.
  6. Mimic Facial Expressions and Movements.  To develop accurate pronunciation, watch native speakers carefully and imitate the movements of their facial muscles and lips.
  7. Establish “Direct Connect”.  Form a link between the new words in your target language and the internal representation of that idea that resides within your body.

For further information, please contact: Ms Fan Li (