Tibetan by Osmosis

The entries below track my attempts to develop fluent listening (not speaking) comprehension of a foreign language, using mostly an “osmosis” type of approach.

Now we all know someone who has picked up a language or two by osmosis, but in most cases they were living in the country in which it was spoken. After a time, they just found themselves fluent, without ever really having to study.

Our brains are, after all, built to recognize patterns that they are repeatedly exposed to.

I’m attempting a similar approach, with one important difference being that I am not surrounded by native speakers. Instead I’m keeping my fingers crossed that internet audio can serve as a sort of substitute.

So for about an hour a day, I’m listening to news and interviews in Tibetan. In truth I am supplementing my learning with a few other tricks I’ve discovered along the way, but 95% of my time is spent just listening.

I’m hoping to never have to break down and start learning grammar or memorizing vocabulary lists. But we’ll see…

Eight Auspicious Symbols

Day #001: Introducing the Tibetan by Osmosis Experiment
Day #002: Ukay Uke Üke
Day #003: Hello Listeners!
Day #004: Self-Entitlement Radio!
Day #005: Los Los… Ray Ray
Day #013: Tibetan Crosswords
Day #026: My Cheatin’ Heart
Day #046: First Sentence!
Day #068: Tibetan Language TV!
Day #089: Professional Help
Day #134: Turn the Page

4 thoughts on “Tibetan by Osmosis”

  1. i spent my early 20s traveling and picking up languages. you’re on the right track. i could give you some hints about how to proceed from here. i’ve also lived in sw china. get in touch.

  2. Thanks for writing, a!

    I’m always open for advice, though the Tibetan project has been on hold for a couple years now as I pursue my CFA. I’ll keep your name in my rolodex for when I come out the other side! 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by the site,
    Lumi

  3. I’m a linguist and polyglot. Your method won’t work. You need to actively repeat everything you hear, but since it’s radio, it’ll be fast-paced and you won’t even be hearing the sounds clearly enough. When you actively repeat everything you hear — and accurately — yes, your brain will pick up on the movements of your tongue and eventually learn the patterns. The longer you do this, the more familiar you’ll become with all the words and patterns of the language even if you’re not understanding anything yet, but you’ll make finer and finer distinctions in sound and pronunciation. Added with some other study of vocabulary on the side, you’ll acquire both listening and speaking ability of the language in a matter of weeks (esp at an hour a day). Check out my mass-sentence method video on YouTube called “Polyglot: Sentence Method”.

  4. Glossika – thanks for taking the time to write. I’m hoping to pick back up with my foreign language studies once I get the #@$%!@ CFA program out of the way. I’ve bookmarked your youtube page so I can find you then! All the best.

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