Tips for Learning a 2nd Language Like a Polyglot Pro
It’s easy to be awed and amazed by polyglots and their ability to speak multiple languages with ease. Who wouldn’t want to be able to switch seamlessly from Japanese, to Spanish, to Hindi, without ever breaking a sweat? While we tend to regard polyglots as these rare unicorns who possess some sort of magical power which allows them to acquire foreign languages the way you might collect Star Wars figurines, the truth is that the majority of polyglots have to learn new languages the same way we mere mortals do: with lots of hard work, time, and discipline. Still, they must be doing something right if they’re able to speak multiple languages, right? Right! Let’s take a look at a few tips that will help you learn your second language like a polyglot pro!
Incorporate it into your day
Anymore it seems like there’s no such thing as leisure. We’ve all become busier, the world has become more fast-paced, and our schedules have become crammed full of a million different activities we need to get to RIGHT NOW. You might be thinking that your lifestyle is way too busy to accommodate to the time and effort it takes to learn another language, but polyglots have jobs and lives too and they still manage to take the time to get in some language study. So how do they do it? Take a good look at how much time you spend doing different tasks throughout the day. You might be surprised at the amount of time you’re actually wasting (even though it feels like you’re constantly busy). It’s actually possible to shave minutes off other activities so you can dedicate those to studying your target tongue. Aim for 3-4 ten-minute study intervals throughout your day. At the end of the day that can add up to 40 extra minutes you dedicated to your language learning!
An hour a day
Once you begin to find ways to schedule your language study into your daily life, you might want to take the next step and give up your native tongue for an hour every day. Yep, that’s right, for 60 measly minutes you focus solely on your target tongue and try to forget your native language ever existed! If you’re a total beginner, you can narrow this down to 10-15 minutes, and gradually increase the time as you progress. The important thing is to hone in completely on speaking, thinking, and using the language your learning for one hour. It can take effort, and won’t be easy at first, but it’s definitely worth it! And if you’re at a loss about what to do during your ‘hour-a-day’, try writing in a journal, or reading a book, or even penning a speech and practicing it out loud. All these are methods that will help you get used to your target tongue and over time you’ll find it easier and more natural to use.
Rinse and repeat
Polyglots tend to agree that there are two things in particular which are vital parts of successfully learning a new language: repetition, and exposure. Have you ever thought about how you acquired your native language? You certainly didn’t study up on grammar or memorize vocabulary as a baby, you learned by listening to the people around you using the language on a daily basis! Daily repetition is important to learning a new language as an adult, but you can’t get this repetition without some level of exposure, right? Before you start thinking that you’re going to have to take 3 months off work and jet to the other side of the world to immerse yourself in your target tongue, think again. You can get lots of exposure to a foreign language without ever having to leave home. Find a native speaker in your city or online who is willing to spend a couple sessions every week helping you practice your language. Limit yourself to watching movies and TV shows, reading books and magazines, and listening to music and podcasts in your target tongue. While this may seem drastic, it’s one of the only ways you’ll get the exposure you need without actually moving to a country where the language is spoken. And if you’re missing your regular English shows, there are plenty of shows on platforms like Netflix that come dubbed in more than one language, so there’s really no excuse to not find ways to completely immerse yourself.
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Do you speak more than one language? Do you have any tips for bilingual hopefuls?