Language Structure

Structure of the Language - Tips

Languages have similarities in their structure. They all have present tenses and past tenses. They all use little tiny words called sight words and the European languages have cognates. Knowing certain things about the structure of the language will dramatically increase your ability to learn the language .

 1.Learn the sight words – most languages consist of a skeleton of sight words that you use 30 percent of the time. When I taught English to foreign language students I taught the dolce list of sight words. This list was the most common 200 words in English. These words were like was, is, as, like etc. The same is true of most languages. Learn those basic two hundred words and you will already know the basic backbone of a language. Take the time to write up this list in your target language and you will be able to decipher the backbone of the language.The Dolce Sight Word List is a good place to start.

2.Learn the cognates – Cognates are words that are similar to English and differ only in ending. For example in Italian the ity at the end of a word usually becomes à. Community – Communità. If you know this then any word that ends in ity becomes an à. There are numerous other endings, like tion becomes ione . Action becomes accione. Station becomes stazione. Knowing the cognate allows you to unravel those words that are similar to English that you already know. French, German, Spanish and Italian have at least 10 to 20 cognate endings similar to English. So just by learning the basic sight words and the cognates you could already know up to 40 percent of a language. Not bad for just understanding how foreign languages work. Once again though you will need to seek out and find those cognate endings. Sure beats studying flash cards. You should be able to find those cognate endings in a good foreign language text book or surf the web for cognate pairs in your target language.

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