Answers Activity 148
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WOMAN: It's actually a remarkable book, Colin, and particularly because, unlike other travel writers, you've managed to get behind the scenes, talk to ordinary Mongolians in their own language and on their own terms. How in fact did you go about learning Khalkha? Did you go to classes?
COLIN: Not exactly. I'd done that for Russian and Chinese, both of which I now speak fluently, but for Khalkha, well, I thought I should pick it up while I was there, you know, learn it on my own and in my own way, so as soon as I arrived I settled into a flat and immersed myself in the neighbourhood and just started talking to people and getting to know them.
WOMAN: And now you speak it fluently?
COLIN: Well, I reckon I can more or less hold my own in a conversation.
WOMAN: And what do you think is the key to good language learning? Do you have to be naturally gifted?
COLIN: Well, obviously for an adult it helps to have some sort of gift, and that's not something we've all got. Being fairly outgoing and uninhibited helps too. I mean, you won't get very far if you're scared or making a fool of yourself, but basically it's application. It's reaily getting down to it, whatever the circumstances, and getting stuck into it because, you know, any language you learn is going to be more complicated than maths, and you don't learn maths just by being uninhibited!
WOMAN: Eventually, while you were there you had the amazing experience of being invited to live with a Mongolian family, didn't you? Tell us a little about that...
How did Colin first start learning Khalkha?
He taught himself before starting his journey.
He took lessons with a teacher in London.
He learnt it while he was in the country.
Colin thinks that adults wanting to learn a new language must...
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