A Tool Case For Language Learning: 40 tools to become a top-notch language learner

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Every few years or so, one of my New Year’s Resolutions will be to learn a new language. And every few years, the same thing inevitably happens: I open up my old Duolingo account, check out some grammar books from the library, and invest the next few days in energetically trying to cram as many foreign words into my brain as possible. Soon enough, my task turns from fun to arduous and I put it off for a day, days becoming weeks, months, years.

Nagi An knows these struggles well—after all, she has herself studied German, Spanish, English, and Japanese—and Tool Case is a culmination of her experience, endeavoring to help us study smarter, not harder.

The book is split into five chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of mastering a language and arranged in order of advancing complexity: simple memorization, making connections, practicing, reading and listening, and speaking and writing.

Having studied Spanish in high school in addition to my independent forays into language-learning, I was no stranger to several concepts outlined in this work, such as chunking new words and creating diagrams. Others, however, were foreign to me. Collocations? Timeboxing?

But An does her best to keep this short, densely-packed manual from becoming overwhelming. The format isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done. As she makes clear, it is in no way her intention that all 40 tools in this book be used by every learner. Instead, readers can choose from the array of strategies to devise a learning plan that works well for them.

Information is grouped in short, manageable segments that can be quickly consumed in between classes, waiting for a bus, or any time when one can spare five minutes. The author knows her audience well: the self-help industry is these days full of books, apps, and games marketed to audiences who want to master something in a short period of time while putting in minimal effort. However, An still emphasizes the need for regular practice and a sustained effort in order to properly learn a language.

Readers may also find that certain tools go far beyond their original purpose. Strategies like the Pomodoro Technique and using existing habits as a “trigger” (such as reviewing five vocabulary words while getting into bed, or repeating a newly learned phrase a few times before eating each meal) work with learning just about anything, not only languages. As such, although the techniques explored in An’s book could be found on the Web through a lot of digging and searching, Tool Case presents them in a clear and succinct summary—with the science to back it up—that’s worth the read for every budding language learner.


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Author Nagi An
Star Count 4/5
Format eBook
Page Count 126 pages
Publisher KDP
Publish Date 2017-Nov-29
ISBN 9870618201801
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue June 2018
Category Reference
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