IWTYAL 097: Word Order & Sentence Structure In A New Language

Freddie asks: “What’s the best way to get my head around different word order and sentence structure in a new language?”

In this episode:

Three approaches to getting used to word order and sentence structure:

  1. Learn the rules. It doesn’t take long, but is important for you to be aware of how the language works
  2. Lots of input. Word order is something you ultimately get used to in a language, so in order to make this happen you need to be listening and reading to as much as possible.
  3. Regular production. At the beginning, it’s natural to think using the word order of your mother tongue. To get over this, make sure you’re producing (speaking or writing) the language regularly.

Two ways to practise producing and getting used to the word order of the language:

  1. Copy out the dialogues from your textbook onto paper. This gives you the experience of producing the word order yourself
  2. Write and learn short monologues in the language. This way, you can “feel” what it’s like to speak using the new word order

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  • Israel Lai

    I think I’ve gotten past the stage of ‘this looks easy’ and now I feel that every language is super hard, just because of the infinite vocabulary…but that’s just me and my high expectations haha

  • Iris

    I agree that both ‘learn the rules’ and ‘lots of input’ are very important. One of the languages I learnt is Tajik and there is something really interesting with this language. The rule is that prepositions come before the noun (e.g. IN the house), but in colloquial Tajik it is often said after the noun (e.g. the house IN). This is an influence of the Uzbek language on Tajik, because the people groups are very mixed. This is also one of the characteristics that distinguishes spoken Tajik from Farsi while the official language is more or less the same…

    • Thanks for your comment Iris. That’s very interesting, and a great example of how both a knowledge of the rules and exposure of to the language as it’s actually spoken are so important!