So, you want to learn a new language? The very idea is fun and exciting. I have an upcoming trip to Germany and want to learn at least some basic phrases to interact with the German people when I arrive. However, I will be the first to admit that learning a new language can be frustrating and overwhelming at times. But, it does not have to be that way. With a proper plan in place and a little dedication, you should be able to learn any language you choose. Hopefully, these tips will help you on your language journey.
The best ways to learn a new language
If you can believe it, you can achieve it
The first step in learning a new language is to be open to learning it. This may sound rather simplistic, but all too often we go into a new endeavor with the wrong mindset. If we begin by telling ourselves how hard it will be and how long it will take, it will only serve to delay the process. Start off on the right foot by embracing the learning process and telling yourself that you can learn a new language!
Debunking the myths
Let's start off by debunking some of the myths surrounding language learning. Here are just a few:
Myth 1: Language is too hard to learn as an adult.
This is false. Language experts will tell you that there is no cut-off date for learning. And while adults typically don’t have as much time to allocate to learning as younger people do, they may be better focused on the learning process when they start.
Myth 2: Immersion language learning is the best way to learn a new language.
Immersion learning usually means learning a new language by spending time in the country where the language is spoken. By being exposed to the language daily, it should be the quickest and easiest way to learn, right? Not necessarily. First, it may not be convenient to take several months off to travel to a foreign country. And second, even with all the podcasts, apps, videos and books that would allow for immersion learning, this approach may become too daunting a task for many people. Therefore, they may give up altogether.
Myth 3: Technology has made language learning obsolete so why bother?
While it’s true that there are many apps that will translate languages for you, AI has yet to reach human levels of speaking. Today’s language technology is far from perfect. Besides, there are many benefits of being bilingual such as increased brain power, improved competitiveness in the job market and the ability to connect with a wider range of people.
Keys to learning
Keep it relevant
When learning a new language, what is relevant is key! Ask yourself what you need it for. Will you be using it for business or travel, casual conversation or asking for directions? Knowing how you will be using the language and why it is important to you will go a long way toward helping you learn it.
Keep it interesting
It will be very hard to stay motivated to learn a language if you are not interested in it. I spent many years trying to learn Spanish, and to this day, I speak very little. I always assumed that I could not learn the language. What I found out, however, was that I simply was not interested in it. Since I started learning German, however, I find that it is much more fun and interesting to me. Find something that you are interested in, and you will enjoy learning it. This will help you learn much faster.
Look & listen
Flashcards can be very beneficial when learning a new language. While you can still find paper flashcards if you like, there are multiple apps with flashcards! Try Drops, Quizlet, FluentU or Lingvist for a fun learning experience! Visual learning helps you retain information more effectively than most other forms of learning. In addition, listen to the language as much as possible. Whether it be music or the news, just listen! Watch TV shows with subtitles. Some studies suggest that you can even learn new vocabulary while you sleep. The only provision is that you should listen to the material you want to learn sometime in your waking hours and then repeat the words as you sleep. You'll be sleeping anyway so why not give it a shot?
Start with 30 minutes a day of either speaking the language, reading it or writing it. Whatever you do, incorporate it into your daily life. Change your phone or computer settings to the new language. Listen to an app like Babble or Duolingo or a podcast like the Coffee Break Languages. Take risks and speak the language. Find someone to talk with who knows the language. The more interaction you have, the better!
Practicing is essential to learning. The key is to practice little and often. Smaller sessions over time will add up and will not leave you feeling overwhelmed. Allow yourself to have fun and make mistakes. Remember, as with any new endeavor, to set realistic goals for yourself. Don't expect to be fluent in French in thirty days. Learning a new language takes time. It is a marathon rather than a sprint. So, remember to have fun and reward yourself along the way.
Hopefully, these tips will help you as you push to learn a new language. Learning a new language can enhance all areas of our lives, from career opportunities to finding out about the world around us, to simply making us better people. Good luck on your journey!
Featured photo courtesy pixabay/cuncon