Computer Aided Language LearningPersonally I feel this is one of the most advanced techniques for acquiring a language in an intensive and reduced duration
Most important is that you reside in the country of the language in order you can immerse yourself and ensure you have as much opportunity as possible to reproduce the language which has been absorbed.
I made this experience while learning mandarin chinese
in Taiwan for the traditional character set.
The course material in three main course books was adapted from National Taiwan Normal Universities? syllabus course material in total around 1500 pages. These covered sentence structures, the majority of common grammar structures a three thousand traditional character vocabulary which is sufficient for an intermediate comprehension of the language.
The course books contain realistic dialogs between up to five people for varied subjects topics which are commonly used in everyday language and most other purposes. These dialogs are accompanied by audio CD?s so that the conversation, context, intonation, tones can be absorbed.
Since the primary phase to learning any language is first to absorb a large as possible common vocabulary this lays down the basis of the language for perceptive skills, by continued listening of the language whenever possible. It is possible to listen to this as much as possible on a portable MP3 player while walking taking public transport or whenever you have a free moment where you are not engaged with other activities.
The actual course is structured from a very basic level of introduction where grammar vocabulary and context situations are added at each unit which build upon grammar already learnt. This way the material is always comprehensible but of course challenging to your ability to comprehend what each speaker is saying.
In addition to the basic course material I learnt how to input the phonetics of each character using pinyin (a Romanization of the actual bopomofa chinese
phonetics) into a computer word processor.
All three course books were typed into a document per unit, which starts with a topic context, a conversation dialog incorporating previous grammar, vocab, structures with incremental new vocabulary grammar sentence structures related to the topic of context of the new unit.
Typing in of the characters with a roman alphabet (which is almost a direct phonetic equivalent of the character) allows you to see the actual symbolic characters in front of you. Your brain makes the association between the sound and the visual for the symbol. After the dialog comes an introduction to each new character it?s use model and meaning but in the target language, which ensures you think in the language and not try to relate it to your own native language.
By this second step your brain then makes the additional association between language symbol and meaning, particularly context of meaning, where mandarin has upto twenty meanings per character, where each meaning is only relevant to the grammatical use and context of use.
The third part of the course material for each unit is the grammatical use, with examples in context. By imputing this, your brain then makes the next connection between grammatical structure too.
Taking these units in a text form and placing it on a handheld translator with text viewer, the learner is able to view the text while listening to it simultaneously from an portable audio format such as MP3, this way you make the association between the live audio conversation and it?s written content. This allows the brain to make a live association between the character symbols in context and how it sounds. The MP3 speed can be controlled according to your ability to comprehend and paused while you cross reference the meaning of uncertain characters using the translator function of the handheld viewer.
The next step involves actual comprehensive understanding of the dialog, this requires that you have intensive study lessons; in my case I opted for the most expensive but most effective method with is individual one-one tuition with private teachers. This way the teacher can question your understanding of the dialogs, work through the grammar and utilize in context use of the new grammar structures/vocabulary for each unit while building on a foundation of previously acquired grammar/vocabulary from each unit. Additionally the teacher will ask you to reproduce the grammar vocab for situations you can relate to personally by means of questions in the target language.
By this method I was able to reproduce spoken mandarin tonally correctly with full comprehension in a mandarin speaking country for everyday and advanced use, with the ability to read/understand/ recognize around three thousand characters as well as the ability to type them for electronic format. Nowadays we live in a modern world where the hand written word is not really so necessary, by this approach I was able to cut down three years study to just ten months.