They say that children learn languages the best. But that doesn’t mean that adults should give up. We asked some of the polyglots in TED’s Open Translation Project to share their secrets to mastering a foreign language. Their best strategies distill into seven basic principles: 人们常说小孩子学外语最厉害,但这并不是说成年人就该放弃了。我们向TED字幕翻译计划的多语使用者请教了掌握一门外语的秘诀。他们的方法可以提炼成7条基本法则:

1. Get real. Decide on a simple, attainable goal to start with so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. German translator Judith Matz suggests: “Pick up 50 words of a language and start using them on people — and then slowly start picking up grammar.” 1. 投身于真实语境。从定一个简单、可实现的目标开始,那样你就不会找不着方向。德语翻译朱迪思·马茨建议:先找50个外语单词,用它们来跟别人交流,然后慢慢地学习语法。

2. Make language-learning a lifestyle change. Elisabeth Buffard, who in her 27 years of teaching English has always seen consistency as what separates the most successful students from the rest. Find a language habit that you can follow even when you’re tired, sick or madly in love. 2. 让外语学习成为你的生活习惯。伊利莎白·布法尔德教了27年英语,她一直认为正是习惯使得成功的学生从其他人中脱颖而出。培养学习外语的习惯,能让你不管累了、病了还是堕入爱河了,都会去学习。

3. Play house with the language. The more you invite a foreign language into your daily life, the more your brain will consider it something useful and worth caring about. “Use every opportunity to get exposed to the new language,” says Russian translator Olga Dmitrochenkova. Label every object in your house in this language, read kids’ books written in it, watch subtitled TED and TEDx talks, or live-narrate parts of your day to an imaginary foreign friend. 3. 和语言玩过家家。你越多地让外语进入日常生活,你的大脑就越会认为它有用并给予关注。“利用好每一个接触新语言的机会,”俄语翻译欧嘉·迪米特罗肯科娃说。用那门语言做成标签贴在家里的每一样东西上,读用那门语言写的童话,看有字幕的TED演讲,或者跟你想象中的外国朋友讲述一些一天里发生的事。

4. Let technology help you out. Dmitrochenkova has a great idea: “A funny thing like resetting the language on your phone can help you learn new words right away,” she says. Ditto for changing the language on your browser. Or you can seek out more structured learning opportunities online. Dutch translator Els De Keyser recommends Duolingo for its gamified approach to grammar, and Anki for memorizing vocabulary with its “intelligent” flashcards. 用科技帮助学习。迪米特罗肯科娃有一个很好的方法,她说:“重新设置手机语言就能让你马上学到新单词。”你也可以改浏览器的语言,或者在网上找一些更系统的学习资源。荷兰语翻译埃尔斯·德凯瑟建议用“多邻国”像玩游戏一样学习语法,用Anki的智能卡片背单词。(多邻国:英语为Duolingo,是一个免费语言学习网站;Anki:一款帮助记单词等的软件,通过记忆卡片呈现。)

5. Think about language-learning as a gateway to new experiences. To Spanish translator Sebastián Betti, learning a language has always been about focusing on the experiences that the new language would open up, from “visiting theme parks, attending air shows, enjoying cowboy poetry and folk-rock festivals, to learning about photo-essay techniques.” In other words, he thinks of fun things that he wanted to do anyway, and makes them into a language-learning opportunity. Many of our translators shared this advice. Italian and French translator Anna Minoli learned English by watching undubbed versions of her favorite movies, while Croatian translator Ivan Stamenković suddenly realized he could speak English in fifth grade, after years of watching the Cartoon Network without subtitles. So the next time you need a vegan carrot cake recipe, find one in the language you’re trying to learn.把外语学习看作通往新世界的大门。西班牙语翻译巴斯蒂安·贝蒂认为,外语学习就是着眼于外语带来的新的体验,包括“游览主题公园、观看现场表演、欣赏牛仔诗歌和民谣摇滚音乐节、学习摄影技术”。 换句话说,他找出他想做的、好玩的事,然后把这些事变成学习外语的机会。我们很多翻译都提到了这点。意大利语和法语翻译安娜·米诺里通过看她喜欢的英语原版电影来学英语,而克罗地亚语翻译伊凡·斯达门科威克小时候看过很多年没有字幕的卡通频道,之后在5年级的时候,他突然发现自己会说英语了。 所以你下次需要一份素萝卜蛋糕的食谱的时候,找一份用你想学的语言写的吧。

6. Make new friends. Interacting in the new language is key — it will teach you to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before you say it. Find native speakers near you. Or search for foreign penpals or set up a language tandem online, where two volunteers help one another practice their respectivelanguages. 6. 交新朋友。用新语言交流很关键,能教会你直接用外语表达自己的想法,而不是在脑子里翻译一遍后才说出来。在自己身边找一些说那种语言的母语人士,或者在网上找外国笔友和语伴,两个人自愿地互相帮助练习对方的语言。7. Do not worry about making mistakes. One of the most common barriers to conversing in a new language is the fear of making mistakes. But native speakers are like doting parents: any attempt from you to communicate in their language is objective proof that you are a gifted genius. They’ll appreciate your effort and even help you.

7. 不要害怕说错。外语对话最大的障碍就是害怕说错。但是母语人士就像溺爱孩子的父母一样,他们会觉得你每一次尝试说他们的语言都是你天资聪颖的客观证明。他们很欣赏你的努力,甚至还会帮助你。 Nervous about holding a conversation with a peer? Try testing your language skills with someone a little younger. “I was stoked when I was chatting with an Italian toddler and realized we had the same level of Italian,” recalls German translator Judith Matz. 跟同辈交流很紧张?那就和比你年轻一点的人练习外语。“当我跟一个说意大利语的小孩聊天时,我发现他的意大利语水平跟我一样,我顿时非常开心,”德语翻译朱迪斯·马茨回忆到。 And be patient. The more you speak, the closer you’ll get to the elusive ideal of “native-like fluency.” 要有耐心,你说得越多,你就会越接近“像母语一样流利”这个模糊的概念。 And to talking to people your own age.跟和你年龄相仿的人聊天。                              ——节选自TED演讲