Kató Lomb (Pécs, February 8, 1909 – Budapest, June 9, 2003) was a Hungarian interpreter, translator and one of the first simultaneous interpreters in the world. She knew 16 languages and shared the ways of mastering languages easily.Here are her requests:
Spend time tinkering with the language every day—if there is no more time available, then at least to the extent of a ten-minute monologue. Morning hours are especially valuable in this respect: the early bird catches the word!
If your enthusiasm for studying flags too quickly, don’t force the issue but don’t stop altogether either. Move to some other form of studying, e.g., instead of reading, listen to the radio; instead of assignment writing, poke about in the dictionary, etc.
Never learn isolated units of speech, but rather learn words and grammatical elements in context.
Write phrases in the margins of your text and use them as ‘prefabricated elements’ in your conversations.
Even a tired brain finds rest and relaxation in quick, impromptu translations of billboard advertisements flashing by, of numbers over doorways, of snippets of overheard conversations, etc., just for its own amusement.
Memorize only that which has been corrected by a teacher. Do not keep reading texts you have written that have not been proofread and corrected so as to keep mistakes from taking root in your mind. If you study on your own, each segment to be memorized should be kept to a size that precludes the possibility of errors.
Always memorize idiomatic expressions in the first person singular. For example, ‘I am only pulling your leg.’ Or else: ‘Il m’a pose un lapin’—‘He stood me up.’
A foreign language is a castle. It is advisable to attack it on all fronts at once: via newspapers, the radio, un-dubbed movies, technical or scientific articles, textbooks, or via a visitor at your neighbor’s.
Do not let the fear of making mistakes keep you from speaking, but do ask your conversation partner to correct you. Most importantly, don’t get peeved if he or she actually obliges you—a remote possibility, anyway.
Be firmly convinced that you are a linguistic genius. If the facts demonstrate otherwise, heap blame on the pesky language you aim to master, on the dictionaries, or on this little book, not on yourself.”