I saw my 11 years old, Harshith, studying French this morning. He has opted for French as his second language. He is pretty good with learning new languages, so I had a conversation with him on how to learn a new language? Here is how it went:
Me: What do you need to do to learn a new language?
Harshith: We need to learn 1. Vocabulary, 2. Grammar, 3. Some expressions and idioms.
Me: What about Alphabets?
Harshith: It depends on your goal about why you want to learn the language. If I want to learn it just to converse with people I don’t need to know alphabets. But if I want to read and write then I definitely need to learn them.
Me: Isn’t it true that by knowing alphabets, you can learn vocabulary faster by reading books and looking up for meaning in the dictionary?
Harshith: That is true. But I can learn few commonly used words from friends who have been studying French for long time. I can even learn from TV shows in French with English sub-titles. This way I can start conversing with others faster while I slowly learn alphabets.
Me: That approach sounds good. How do you go about learning vocabulary, grammar and common expressions?
Harshith: I would learn commonly used words, basic grammar to form good sentences and commonly used expressions first. As I start conversing with people, I improve my vocabulary and other aspects of grammar and learn more expressions.
Me: What do you mean by basic grammar?
Harshith: Hmmm.. may be I will learn enough grammar to speak in present tense first, since that is what is required immediately, then I will learn other aspects, one thing at a time.
Me: Your way of learning new language is good, I will follow this next time I learn a new language.
I thought to myself: This is what we are trying to teach at work. My takeaway from this conversation was, we need to have a goal or vision for the product which drives what and how to build it. We need to slice the work into smaller value streams and deliver iteratively for maximum value. There is no one way of slicing the work, it’s all depends on what we want to achieve. I am happy that I got another example to talk about.