Step 1: understanding the meaning of the words

Preparation: Find some text in Telugu that interests you. You will spend a lot of time with that text, so it is important that you choose something you like. It is also an advantage if that text is available in an audio format, because you will need that in the next step (step 2). If not, you can always ask a native speaker to record it for you.

If you have found some text, take it and translate it word by word into your language. Do NOT try to form complete or good sounding sentences in English - stick to a literal 1:1 translation. This again is important. You want to learn Telugu, not English, right? So you want to discover as much as you can about your new language and how the words are used. This is not possible if you form complete, good sounding English sentences. You need the weird version. You will see that the closer you are in your 1:1 translation, the more you will learn.

Step 1

You can, if you prefer, delegate the task of translating the text. This saves time. You will, however, learn a lot if you do it your self, but this is optional. If you are short of time and can effort to buy or download some already 1:1 translated text, you can do so without any negative side effects.

So let us recap the advantages of this first step:

  1. Instant comprehension creates positive feelings. The word-by-word translation makes the new language transparent in several ways.

  2. The structure of Telugu can be understood without any grammar rules, similar to the way you learned your first language in your early childhood. In the example above we automatically get a feeling of how a sentence is built. There is no temptation to force the English structure onto Telugu, instead we develop a natural feeling of the way the words are arranged in the sentence.

  3. The word-by-word translation is a temporary tool we will let go later on. We will not stick to the 1:1 translation. As soon as we begin to understand some sequences we naturally start to think in Telugu. Only those paragraphs that are still new to us will require the temporary bridge. There is no such thing like a Telugu-to-English-word-equivalent we have to struggle to overcome later on.

  4. The 1:1 literal translation can be quite funny. And the more weird it sounds at first in English, the more we learn about Telugu. That is the big benefit: either a sequence or phrase is similar to English, or its funny. The very moment a structure seems particularly funny we will recognize a new structure of Telugu. All this happens without effort, which is part of the elegance of this method.

Alright. Ready for the next step? Follow me on to Step 2...



You Mention that it would be good if we find a telugu text that interests us and to translate it, saying it would be more effective if we do it ourselves.

But how to do that when we do not have prior knowledge of the language as yet?

Just keep trying...

Simply use a dictionary. It is a tedious task in the beginning but you will learn a lot. You can also delegate that to a teacher, or use a movie with subtitles that you like. However, just keep trying...


Awesome Site!

Tom, seems like you have a great collection of information on your site, and it is well laid-out. The philosophy of learning language that you recommend closely matches how I have practiced learning languages. I am looking forward to working my way through the lessons you have provided.

I noticed a couple of things on this particular page, however. You used the word "wired" a couple of times. Did you mean to say "weird"? Also, in step 3 above, "Only thous paragraphs...", did you mean to say "those"?

Those are absolutely minor things that I noticed on your otherwise impeccable site. Keep up the good work!

Thank you, KTownDaren

for your note. Since English is not one of my languages (I am German) and I write as I speak, these things happen (...and my spell checker lets me get away with it). So I am grateful for any hints.

Thanks again