Most of us find learning a new language is so demanding and challenging. We have many different memory systems, and mastering a different tongue requires all of them. However, that tough mental workout comes with big payoffs; it isarguably the best brain training. Studies have shown that being multilingual can improve attention and memory, and that this can provide a “cognitive reserve” that delays the a) onset of dementia.
How dohyperpolyglots master so many new tongues – and could the rest of us try to emulate them? Yes, we could. Tim Keeley, who is currently writing a book on the “social, psychological and affective factors in becoming multilingual,” says: “You become a chameleon.”
Keeley’s theory is that learning a new language causes you to re-invent your sense of self – and the best linguists are particularly good at taking on new identities. Psychologists have long known that the words we speak are b) entwined with our identity. It’s a cliche that French makes you more romantic, or Italian makes you more passionate. Importantly, various studies have found that multilingual people often adopt different behaviors according to the language they are speaking.
If you 1) identify with someone, you are more likely to mimic them – a process that would effortlessly improve language learning. But the adopted identity, and the associated memories, may also stop you from confusing the language with your mother tongue – by building neural barriers between the languages. “There must be some type of home in your mind for each language and related experiences, in order for the languages to stay active and not get all mixed together,” Keeley says.
“It is not just the amount of time spent learning and using the languages. The quality of the time, especially emotional c) salience, is critical.” Indeed, that might explain why Keeley could switch so effortlessly between some 20-odd languages.
Michael Levi Harris may demonstrate these principles the best. An actor by training, Harris also has an advanced knowledge of 10 languages, and an intermediate understanding of 12 more. Harris thinks that anyone can learn to adopt a new language in this way – and he has a few tips, based on his experiences of acting.
Michael Levi Harris可能是這個理論的最佳代言。他是受過專業訓練的演員，精通10門語言，
The important thing, he says, is to try to imitate without even considering the spelling of the words. “Everyone can listen and repeat,” he says. “You may find yourself over-exaggerating, in the same way that an actor may be a little 2) over-the-top in their performance to start with – but that’s a crucial part of the process”
他說，最重要的事就是模仿時不要考慮拼字, 「每個人都能聆聽和重覆」, 你可能會發現自已有點誇張，就跟一位演員最開始表演時有點演過頭—但這是關鍵性的一步。
He also says you should try to overcome the embarrassment associated with producing “strange" noises” – such as the guttural sounds in Arabic. “It’s all to do with owning the language, which is what actors have to do to make the audience believe that these words are yours.”
You can practice a little and often – perhaps just for 15-minutestints, four times a day. “I think the analogies exercise are quite good,” says Alex Rawlings, who has developed a series of polyglot workshop with Richard Simcott to teach their techniques. Even if you are too busy or tired to do serious study, just practicing a dialogue or listening to a foreign pop song can help, says Simcott.
你可以經常性的練習一點點—也許就15分鐘，一天四次。「我認為這和運動相比是很恰當的」，和Richard Simcott合作發展「多語者工作坊」，並教多語言技巧的Alex Rawlings說。Simcott也說：「即使你很忙或者很累，不能認真學習，僅僅練習一段對話或者聽一首外文流行歌都會有所幫助。」
1. identify with: 視…為一體,認同
I can identify with the problems you’re having..
2. Over the top 過火；言過其實
To blame Matt for the collapse of the business seems way over the top. 把公司的瓦解都責怪在賣特身上似乎有點誇大。