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How to Improve Your Foreign Language Immediately: Foreign Language… (2012)

di Boris Shekhtman

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3511602,955 (4.17)3
This book provides a unique set of tools designed to enhance an individual's success in communicati0n in a foreign language environment. The devices presented allow the speaker of a foreign language to demonstrate the level of his/her language more impressively. These techniques were developed and tested by the author with adult professionals in such varied fields as journalism, diplomacy, government, and international business.… (altro)
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The content is obvious in many respects, but someone needed to tell me. I’m slowly pecking away at my Spanish. I will 100% use the suggestions in this book when I prepare to take my language acquisition to the next level and travel/take classes/communicate more in Spanish. Writing this in the middle of a pandemic, who knows when that will be! ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
The content is obvious in many respects, but someone needed to tell me. I’m slowly pecking away at my Spanish. I will 100% use the suggestions in this book when I prepare to take my language acquisition to the next level and travel/take classes/communicate more in Spanish. Writing this in the middle of a pandemic, who knows when that will be! ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
This was a short book. I had seen a video where someone recommended it and I'm very happy I decided to go and buy it. I'm quite experienced in language learning, but I still found new things and some things I knew I can now do more deliberately. I'm hoping this will really boost the efficiency of my language learning. ( )
  RankkaApina | Feb 22, 2021 |
Toward the end of How to Improve Your Foreign Language Immediately, author Boris Shekhtman tells a story that perfectly captures what this small gem of a book is all about. A woman desperate to pass a proficiency test in Russian in order to secure an overseas assignment contacted Shekhtman at his language school and asked if it was even possible to improve her skills sufficiently in just four days. He told her that it was impossible to improve her language knowledge in that amount of time, but it was absolutely possible to organize the knowledge she already had to make her presentations far more effective.

Of course, the distinction made here is between traditional methods of foreign language learning, which emphasize committing grammar rules and vocabulary to memory in a very patterned way, and an approach that focuses on communication skills. In what amounts to the gist of the book, the author presents seven communicative “tools” designed to help the foreign speaker achieve three goals: fluency (i.e., expansion and simplification of speech), speech readiness, and communication control. These tools, which include techniques such as creating “islands” of prepared material to fall back on and learning to ask questions to either redirect or clarify the conversation, are straightforward, sensible and quite well explained.

Learning a new language is not easy under the best of circumstances and Shekhtman is quick to point out that the communication skills he espouses in no way replace the need to develop a solid grammatical foundation and vocabulary. However, by stressing the importance of thinking about how you communicate in addition to the content of the message itself, he has done the language learner a tremendous favor in helping to break down the walls—both real and perceived—that impede effective exchanges in someone else’s native tongue. I only wish I had come across the ideas in this guide 20 years ago! ( )
  browner56 | Jun 10, 2013 |
Questa recensione è stata scritta per Recensori in anteprima di LibraryThing.
This is a very slim book – just 95 pages – and yet it comes with a big promise in the title and big endorsements from Shekhtman’s former students in places like The New York Times and The Pentagon.

Surprisingly, the book does deliver on its promise. Shekhtman’s technique is not to improve your language level, but to give you specific ‘communication tools’ that help you express yourself better using the language you already know. Without knowing any extra vocabulary or grammar structures, you can speak more fluently and have longer, more fruitful conversations.

It sounds strange, but actually it makes perfect sense. Genie and I went to the French-speaking islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique last summer and discovered that, although my level of French is slightly higher than hers, she communicates more effectively. She’s happy to “butcher the language” as she puts it, chattering away in a random selection of tenses but getting her point across, whereas I tend to speak slowly and falteringly, searching for the correct subjunctive form before I dare to open my mouth. Shekhtman would say that Genie makes better use of communication tools than I do.

He gives seven tools in the book, clearly laid out and explained, designed to help you hold a conversation in a foreign language when the person is a native speaker. Here’s a quick summary (the actual points are much fuller and illustrated with examples):

1. Show Your Stuff

The instinct in a foreign language is often to keep things short due to lack of confidence, but actually verbosity is your best defence. Full answers give the native speaker confidence in your language level and make it a relaxed conversation rather than an awkward interrogation.

2. Build up ‘Islands’

Islands are pre-defined speeches on common topics that you can swim to when you feel as if you’re drowning in a difficult conversation. Reciting one of these speeches gives confidence both to you and the native speaker, and allows you to rest mentally before plunging back into less familiar waters.

3. Shift Gears

If you’re uncomfortable and lack the vocabulary to answer a question, change the subject onto something you’re more comfortable with. You can also use this to extract the necessary vocabulary from the native speaker

4. Simplify

If it is important that you get the meaning across, use the simplest simple grammar structures possible.

5. Break Away

Avoid translating grammar structures from your own language, and instead only use those of the foreign language. Shekhtman gives examples of exercises you can do to help with this.

6. Embellish

The kind of ‘wordiness’ that we often try to eradicate in our own language can be our friend in a foreign language. It makes our speech sound more natural by using idioms and slang, or exclamations and expressions like “You bet!” or “You know” or “I’d say that…”

7. Say what?

Understand what the other person is saying by scanning for key words, and then deciding when you need to clarify and get every detail. Know when to switch between the two modes.

A minor quibble is that the book contains a few small errors of language, or awkward uses of English. They don’t impede your understanding or undermine the arguments Shekhtman makes, but they are quite jarring sometimes.

Overall I’d recommend this book either to a language student looking for help communicating more effectively, or to a teacher looking for quick ways to help students make better use of the language they know. Shekhtman presents the tools clearly and suggests exercises at each stage to help master them. I might start using some of them in English too! ( )
1 vota AndrewBlackman | Apr 15, 2013 |
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In learning and teaching second and foreign languages, teachers and students have a number of resources at their fingertips to work with both the "topdown" and "bottom-up" aspects of language acquisition.
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This book provides a unique set of tools designed to enhance an individual's success in communicati0n in a foreign language environment. The devices presented allow the speaker of a foreign language to demonstrate the level of his/her language more impressively. These techniques were developed and tested by the author with adult professionals in such varied fields as journalism, diplomacy, government, and international business.

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