Last modified on Sunday, December 12, 1999.

Books On Learning Languages

There are suprisingly few books on just how one goes about learning foreign languages. Books that teach you about a specific language are fairly common, and admittedly these sometimes give the odd tip on how to study more effectively. This is useful, but not really enough... It's also not difficult to find books on linguistics, the study of how languages are learned (in a fairly abstract sense), and also books on how one goes about teaching a language.

But books from the learner's viewpoint are much rarer. This seems odd: with all these books on teaching and how people learn, presumably somebody's being taught, somewhere... You think they'd like to read about how to do what they're doing.

I've been studying Japanese since 1985, and in the time since then I've found a total of 12 books that profess to teach you what to do to learn a foreign language. Of course, five of the twelve are in Japanese... (:

I don't usually buy every single book that I run across in a given genre, but 12 books (so far) in 15 years (so far) isn't so bad! They're rare enough that it's kind of fun to pick a new one up whenever I find one.

On this page I'll show you the books I have on my shelf, and some information on each. Eventually each book picture will link you to a page with more details on the book in question, the contents in detail, my opinions and the like. I'll add the detailed pages for each book as I finish them.

For the books in English, click on the logo next to each book to go to Amazon's page for that book in a new browser window. Alternately, you can click on the logo to go to their main page, where you can input the ISBN to retrieve the book in question (I haven't figured out how to get you there automagically yet...) Sometimes the shipping from the UK is cheaper than from the US, at least to me here in Japan!

And since there is no equivalent of Amazon for Japanese books, when possible I've provided a link to the book's page on the publisher's web site.

Books in English

How To Be A More Successful Language Learner, second edition

Joan Rubin, Irene Thompson
Heinle and Heinle Publishers/Wadsworth
120 pp, 1994
No price marked: price US$31.95 (1999 Nov.)
ISBN 0-8384-4734-1

How To Learn Any Language
Quickly, Easily, Inexpensively, Enjoyably, and On Your Own

Barry Farber
Citadel Press/Carol Publishing Group
172 pp, 1991
ISBN 0-8065-1271-7

A Practical Guide To Language Learning
A Fifteen-Week Program of Strategies for Success

H. Douglas Brown
75 pp, 1989
No price marked: price US$23.45 (1999 Nov.)
ISBN 0-07-008208-1

YES! You Can Learn a Foreign Language

Marjory Brown-Azarowicz, Charlotte Stannard, Mark Goldin
Passport Books/NTC Publishing Group
116 pp, 1989
ISBN 0-8442-9514-0

Success With Foreign Languages
Seven who achieved it and what worked for them

Earl W. Stevick
Prentice Hall International (UK)/Simon & Schuster International Group
157 pp, 1989
No price marked; Out of print. (Guesstimate price: US$30+?)
ISBN 0-13-860289-1

How To Learn A Foreign Language

Graham E. Fuller
Storm King Press
102pp, 1987
ISBN: 0-935166-02-5

Becoming Bilingual
A Guide to Language Learning

Donald N. Larson, William A. Smalley
University Press of America
426pp(!), 1972
No price marked: Amazon price US$38.00 (1999 Nov.)
ISBN: 0-8191-4246-8

Books in Japanese (though my reviews will be in English :)

Chotto-shita Gaikokugo no Oboekata
"A Pretty Good Way To Remember Foreign Languages"

Shimmyo Mitsugu
Kodansha New Hardcovers/Kodansha
252pp, 1995
JPY 1359
ISBN: 4-06-264002-3

40-ka-Kokugo Shuutoku-hou: Watashi wa Kou-site Masutaa-shita
"The Way To Master 40 Languages: I Mastered Them Like This"

Shimmyo Mitsugu
Blue Backs/Kodansha
265pp, 1994
JPY 757
ISBN 4-06-257045-9

Gogaku Kyoushitsu Wo Umaku Tsukatte Gaikokugo Pera-pera
"Using Language Classes Well For Foreign Language Fluency"

Iga Katsumi
Nihon Jitsugyou Shuppansha
229 pp, 1993
JPY 1165
ISBN 4-534-01990-4

Watashi No Gaikokugo Gakushuu-hou
"My Foreign Language Study Method"
(Original Hungarian title: Igy Tanulok Nyelveket)

Kato Lomb (trans: Yonehara Mari)
255 pp, 1981 (Original Hungarian edition: 1972)
JPY 1700, though I bought it used for JPY 350 (:
[no ISBN]

Gaikokugo No Manabikata
"How To Study Foreign Languages"

Watanabe Shoukou
Iwanami Shinsho/Iwanami Shoten
293 pp, 1962
No price marked.
[no ISBN]