Counting is an easy way to start teaching a new language, since the order and meanings are the same in every language. Linguistics professors start by learning numbers when they know nothing else. Numbers were the first words deciphered in Mayan glyphs.
Try the numbers 1-100 in a language you do not know (Turkish? Chinese? Portuguese? more? even more?). How many repetitions would you need to learn all the numbers and start learning the sounds of the language?
Those examples are on the web, and you can download an MP3 file, to learn numbers with no need for a computer, and no distractions from your own language. The MP3 file will play:
- 1 brief beep \ then the MP3 file speaks the number "1" slowly (in the target language) then pause for imitation.
- 2 beeps \\ and speak 2
- 3 beeps \\\ and speak 3
- 4 beeps \\\ \ and speak 4
- 5-9 beeps are best played in groups of 3 for easy counting: \\\ \\\ \\\
- 10 is 1 beep at a lower pitch |
- 11 is 1 beep of each pitch | \
- 12 is the lower pitch beep followed by 2 beeps at the original pitch | \\
- 22 is 2 beeps of each pitch || \\
- After a certain point little is new, so beeps are needed less often, and repetitions can be reduced.
- 100 is another pitch still lower/
Counting to 100 has many advantages as a first lesson, compared to greetings and simple sentences used in other courses. The learner:
- Easily knows what the words mean
- Has short and easy words
- Learns to hear individual words, separate from the flow of continuous speech
- Hears and practices most sounds of the language
- Starts quickly without delays to learn subtleties of familiarity, gender, time of day, etc.
- Can handle greater speed as the numbers rise from 20 to 99
- Can hear the same lesson from different native speakers (sex, age, region) as well as songs
- Has more practice, but with more variation, than repeating a sentence 5 times
- Builds good pronunciation habits in the mouth muscles and brain
- Is not distracted by switching back and forth to his/her native language
- Is not led into mispronunciations by seeing written material before knowing good pronunciation
Starting with numbers helps anyone who had trouble with other courses. When a learner has trouble, good advice is to try a different approach. Numbers are a different approach.
The "Basic" lesson would be next if you were designing beginning lessons for radio or MP.