There are numerous reasons to learn a new language. It can come down to necessity when moving to a new country or attempting to take a new job. Learning a language also ranks highly among personal ambition among individuals across the world, even if they are only doing so to prove that they can achieve it. The reason why it is considered as being such an achievement is that it can be very difficult, especially when tackling a language outside the same linguistic family as your own. Fortunately, there are various methods of making the whole process much easier, and our 10 favourite tips for doing precisely that can be found below.
1. Identify the Reasons for Learning a New Language
We mentioned some of the reasons for wishing to learn a new language in the introduction. When it all comes down to it, it is generally a personal choice – even something as significant as moving to a new country involves personal desire. Prior to embarking on the arduous process of learning something new, it is important to know why. This motivation forms the cornerstone of the learning process, which often lasts months or years. Whenever motivation drops and your efforts decline, the original motivator can be brought to the forefront to remind you why you are doing this.
2. Get Someone Else on Board
It is proven that it is far easier to learn a new language with someone else than to attempt to go it alone. You immediately have someone around the same standard to practice and converse with, and motivational issues play a part here too. If giving up would see you not only letting yourself down but a friend or family member too, then you are far more likely to stick with it.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk to Yourself
Old wives’ tales would have you think that talking to yourself is the first sign of madness. However, if you have nobody else to practice your language with, there is nothing wrong with holding a conversation with yourself in another language. This does make it difficult to spot errors as they arise, but it may give you something to look up for improvement, or simply encourage correct pronunciation.
4. Work on the Important Areas Most
Your reasoning for learning a language plays a part once again here, as it is worth thinking about which parts of the new language will be most relevant. If you foresee yourself mostly speaking, then regular conversation is important. If your focus is on the written word, then textbooks and reading will generally be more beneficial. At the same time, it is important not to focus on one area at the expense of the others, as a language is not truly mastered until an individual can communicate in all forms.
5. Make the Learning Process Fun
Any task is easier, and you are more likely to stick with it if it is fun. You may want to write and sing songs in the new language, or even put together poetry. Anything creative can be highly beneficial as it can see you heading to the dictionary for the perfect word, increasing your vocabulary in the process.
6. Roll Back the Years
It is commonly accepted that children have an easier time learning a new language than adults, although it is not strictly true. The adult brain is equally capable, but the approach differs. Think how a child would when learning a language, and do not be afraid to make mistakes and avoid being self-conscious when speaking to natives or those ahead of you in the learning process. Accepting that you don’t know everything makes it much easier to clear obstacles and reach your learning destination.
7. Scare Yourself
The brain loves the feeling of completing a task, and the harder the task, the prouder you will be of completing it. You could learn a language in your comfort zone, but it is easy to take the soft route. Immerse yourself in native speakers, use colloquialisms, order food, and do anything else that might make you stop and think ordinarily. As you do so, that comfort zone expands, and you will be far happier to do even more in your chosen new language.
8. Become a Good Listener
Your goal may be to speak and write a new language, but doing so would be pointless if you are unable to understand the responses. Many languages sound strange to the untrained ear, but just listening in on a competent speaker can do wonders for pronunciation, accents and vocabulary growth.
9. Immerse Yourself
If you are learning a language simply because you want to, it can be tempting – and very useful – to up sticks and move to a country where the language is spoken. There is nothing like living a language for learning it, but going to the right place can be impossible for all manner of reasons. In the internet age, however, it is never difficult to find resources that can emulate actually being there. Watch movies in your chosen language, potentially with subtitles in the early stages, and you will find yourself coming out of that couple of hours a better communicator than when you started. Netflix, YouTube and many other resources are fantastic for this if taking the learning process seriously.
10. Get Started
We feel that a fair few of our readers on this feature will be here because they are considering learning a new language. The hardest step is starting and learning that language never seems to be at the top of the priority list. With your motivations in place and a vague plan on how to proceed, there is no time like the present to get started. Play the video, open the textbook or buy the course. Once that step is completed, you will officially be learning the language and a step closer to your goal!