5 Tips That Will Help You Learn Any Language
There is really no easy way to learn a language. I’ve met expats who have lived overseas for years in countries like Taiwan and Mexico, and yet have never picked up any of the local language beyond a few standard phrases. Add cultural barriers to that and you’ve got what seems to be a huge task ahead if you whenever you choose to learn a new tongue. But, while learning to communicate in French, Mandarin, or Japanese may not be easy, it’s by no means impossible. Here are a few great tips that can help you in the learning of any language:
Know why you’re learning it.
Learning a language for the sake of learning it is sure to severely stunt your progress as you’ll usually wind up feeling like there’s no true purpose to your endeavours. Establish a concise goal or reason for why you want to learn a certain language. You can learn it because you someday want to take a solo trip to a country where it’s used, or because you hope to advance your career by becoming multilingual. Either way, knowing exactly why you’re learning the language will help keep you focused and make the process a whole lot easier.
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Accept your mistakes.
The older we get, the harder it is for us to own up to mistakes, or even be willing to put ourselves in situations where we know we’ll make a lot of them. Learning a new language is all about making plenty of mistakes, and you should definitely prepare yourself for that. There is no scenario possible where you’ll walk into a language class and get everything right the first time. More likely than not, mistakes will be a big part of your daily learning process. Don’t be intimidated by them! Own up to your blunders and learn from them. Remember, everyone makes mistakes when they’re learning something completely foreign, so you’re definitely not alone.
Find a study buddy.
A big key to learning a new language successfully is to find someone else who is tackling the same mountain you are. Study buddies aren’t just great for reviewing the ins and outs of grammar and vocabulary, they’re incredibly important when it comes to accountability. Having someone holding you accountable for skipping a day of study, or slacking on practising, will motivate you to stay strong when the learning process becomes more drudge than fun. Even if your study buddy isn’t learning the same language as you, they can still push you forward and help you to stick with the program—and you can do the same for them!
Go out into the real world.
The prospect of going out and (gasp) putting your language skills to use in the real world can be one of the scariest parts of learning a new tongue. It’s also the only way you’ll continue to move forward and become a better speaker. After all, you aren’t picking up a new tongue just you can speak it to yourself, right? Start small when it comes to applying your knowledge to the outside world. You don’t need to travel all the way to Hong Kong to practice your Cantonese, head down to your local Chinatown and try using it in shops and restaurants. Small steps lead to big leaps and you’ll slowly grow more comfortable with your skills and prepare yourself for using the language during a trip abroad.
5. Imitate those who know.
They say imitation is the best form of flattery and it certainly rings true when you’re learning a new tongue! Speaking in a foreign language can feel physically strange (and sometimes like you’re talking with a mouth full of marbles), and the more you practice the more natural it will feel. One of the best ways to accustom yourself to a new language is through mimicking native speakers. Find someone who speaks the language fluently and strike up a conversation. Listen carefully to the way they speak and try copying them. Watch a movie in your target language and pause throughout to try new phrases aloud. Listening to music is another great tool to help you uncover a language’s rhythm—and you’ll learn some catchy tunes too!
What are some tips you think would help potential language learners? What are some of the things you do to help you in your language learning process?