All Sound Fluent courses are created from scratch for each language, using a unique method based on learning thourgh immersion enhanced by insights from neurosience and linguistics.
Our guiding principles are:
Language is a skill, not just knowledge. It is practical, not theoretical. It is something you must learn to do, by doing. Not a set of facts to memorize as grammar rules and endless lists of vocabulary.
Learning to speak a language is a very different thing to learning about the language. Learning about a language is theory - it means learning rules of grammar explicitly, and lots of talking about the new language using English. It can make you an expert on the language, but not at it.
Learning to speak a language means developing a new skill. The best way to develop a new skill is to practice the thing itself, rather than reading a lot about it. The way to learn to speak a language is to practice speaking the language.
Practice speaking well from the very start. Find someone who can speak well, and copy what they do.
Whatever you practice, becomes a habit. If you 'practice' speaking badly, speaking badly will becomea habit. If you want to speak well, you must practice speaking well. If you want to speak fluently, practice speaking fluently from the start.
The best way to learn a skill is to find someone who does that thing well, and learn to do what they do. This is how babies learn their native language, and how adults learn using the most reliable method for speaking fluently – long-term total immersion in the target language.
Learn to speak well from the start using the 4 keys of learning through immersion
Adults are not babies, but when we learn through immersion we use the same techniques that babies use – observation, imitation, repetition and experimentation
This involves paying attention to what is being said (sound of the language), and to the context (meaning). Humans have a highly effective statistical processing mechanism which (entirely subconsciously) works out the association of words to each other, and words to context, and draws accurate conclusions about word meaning and grammar patterns. This is how children are able to learn so many words so fast, without being explicitly taught what every word means. Research studies have shown that adults are also able to use these same abilities. The big difference between babies learning their first language and adults learning a new language is that the adult suffers from interference from their native language. The most important step in overcoming this is to pay very close attention to what the new language actually is, how it sounds and what native speakers actually say.
Imitating native speakers by trying to reproduce what they say exactly as they say it is one of teh most powerful and neglected techniques available to the language learner. You can spend less time learning grammar rules and vocabulary lists and trying to recreate what native speakers might say, and instead concentrate on what it is that they actually do say. Everything you need to know is already contained in the language that they use everyday. So spend more time just imitating what native speakers do. It's the fastest way to learn. You may have noticed that babies spend a lot of time do this. It works for them, and it works for adults too.
Repetition is the key to creating long-lasting memories. It's one of the reasons that learning through immersion works so well - once you have heard people saying the equivalent of "Hi, how are you?" a hundred times, and said it more than a few times yourself, you will never forget it. Getting more repetition is also one of the advantages children have over adults - because child-directed speech is far more repetitive than normal adult speech. Adults need just as much repetition as children do, but they get embarressed or frustrated if they don't get it after only 2 or 3 repetitions. That just isn't enough for effective learning. The good news is that with enough repetition, anyone can learn a language. It doesn't take special talent, just the right method.
The final key to effective learning is also the most fun. Experimenation means taking phrases that you have already learnt - and know to be right - and modifying them to say different things. This is the stage where children make lots of mistakes - and you will too - and just like children, you will emerge from the mistakes as a fluent, confident and natural speaker of your new language.
We created Sound Fluent so you can get the benefits of learning through immersion faster, and without having to move countries.
Using sound fluent
Speaking and listening are different, although related, skills and are linked to quite different brain activity. Most courses focus on speaking, and assume that listening will take care of itself in time. We believe that to be an ineffective way to learn. Sound Fluent courses contain parallel courses in speaking and listening for optimum learning and results.
The Speaking lessons
Listen and repeat after the native speaker
The most important thing at the beginning – copy what you hear as accurately as you possibly can
-you are overcoming the interference of English
-You are giving your brain the signals it needs to learn to differentiate the sounds of the new language by growing new neural pathways (this is the ability to hear the sounds clearly and say them accurately – an ability you lost by one year old as your brain became specialised in English)
-You are fulfilling the first condition of learning through immersion – observation, by learning to pay close attention to what you actually hear, not what you imagine you hear – and the second condition – imitation, which fires up the social brain which is vital for effective language learning
Speak at the same time as the native speaker
-First listen and repeat AFTER the native speaker.
-then, when you have got the hang of that, speak after the native speaker AND at the same time, speaking together WITH the native speaker, and matching her voice exactly
In your first few lessons you will probably want to just listen and repeat for the full lesson, perhaps speaking together with the native speaker on the second or third play through of each lesson. As you progress through the lessons you will find it gets much easier to speak with the native speaker, as your ear will be tuned into the new language, and your brain will already have learnt how to process it MUCH faster than at the beginning. You will then find that you will need to listen and repeat only once or twice, before moving on to speaking with the native speaker, all within the same lesson.
Recall practice to build strong memories
Advanced memory techniques are woven throughout the course. Within each lesson there are several opportunities to revisit the material just covered to ensure that the new words and phrases stick in your memory. After each lesson there is a dedicated ‘Memory Boost’ track, where you are asked to say words and phrases in your new language, in response to prompts in English. This part of the course is vital to move beyond simply understanding the language to being able to use it actively, and therefore being able to converse fluently. This kind of memory work has been demonstrated to be the most effective in actually improving performance. Finally, after every 10 lessons there are review tracks which consolidate and extend your ability to create and use conversational phrases in your new language.
The last principle of learning through immersion ‘experimentation’ is used throughout the course as you are asked to work out for yourself how to say brand new phrases. You then get immediate feedback in the form of the correct phrase spoken by a native speaker, which will either confirm or correct your own speech.
The Listening Course
Learning to understand what native speakers are saying, even when they talk at normal speed, is a foundational skill in becoming fluent in a language. We use specially treated audio designed to train your brain to process the language fast, while building up your vocabulary and colloquial knowledge. Additionally, there are tracks designed to train your brain in key grammatical structures, so you will develop an automatic, intuitive grasp of grammar, just as you have in your native language.
The combination of the Speaking lessons and the listening course train the brain in effective auditory processing of the new language, supporting both effortless understanding and fluent speaking abilities.
Neuroscience gives valuable insights into what is actually happening in the brain as someone learns a language – and we have applied these insights to creating a course giving the same benefits as learning through immersion – all without leaving home.