Picking up a foreign language – the trick: Paying attention

The pantry of a company is an interesting place, if you care to linger there once in awhile. It is where knowledge of unlimited range and depth are exchanged. Haha ok I may be exaggerating, but there’s some truth in it I assure you!

Anyways I was there to get my daily cookie(s), and I met the guy who had helped with the troubleshooting of SNDR. He was making a cup of espresso (which smelled wonderful – probably the reason why I stayed and chat).  He is originally from Mainland China, went to France to pursue his Masters for 2 years and worked there for 4 years, then coming to Singapore to work (in the same company) for another 6 years. 

Then of course, I was very curious about the choices he made. Why did he leave France? Why did he go to France in the first place? Why did he stayed for 6 years, not longer or shorter? Why did he want to come to Singapore? Why is he going back to Shanghai now?

Yes, I ask a lot of questions – particularly ‘why did you do this? Why are you doing this? why are you planning to do this?’. I don’t know if it is a coincidence that my initial is LYY. My dad used to like to say to me “Why Why tell me Why” and make it into a song and dance when I was little. 

Ok, getting off topic here again! Since he said that he managed to learn French in the first two months he was there. Naturally I’m even more curious. How?!

And he said, well for one he has a very good memory for words. So it is very easy for him to pick up the vocabulary. He usually takes only the first read through to remember the words. And the second thing is, that he pays attention when people speak. Of course it is important to have a naturally good ear and clear mind to be able to separate each word the person speak when it comes to foreign languages. But the main point is, he pays attention

So there you go. The great secret to learning a language. Paying attention.

Pay attention when you read. Pay attention when people speak. 

How many people does that? I certainly don’t. When I read or listen, the main purpose is to get the message the person is trying to send. Not the words. 

So from now on, Pay attention. 

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