Learning a new language is like embarking on an exciting new adventure; while you know your general final destination, the path there for every individual can be quite different. When you consider people’s various learning strengths, cultural backgrounds and choices made along the way, every experience ends up as diverse as the people themselves.
No matter who you are, learning a second language fluently can feel like a daunting task. But, even our resident experts at Language Department had to start somewhere! Through their collective knowledge and learning journeys, there are a few great tips we love to share with future bilingual (or multilingual!) superstars.
1. Start small with just 50 words.
Try your hardest to not feel weighed down by the entirety of a language as a whole. Starting out with a group of 50 to 100 words to absolutely master right off the bat is a great way to help boost your confidence and perfect your pronunciations and understanding. Once you’ve become an expert with your first group of words, introduce a new bunch into the mix, and repeat.
2. Base studying around other personal interests.
When you are able to weave your own hobbies or interests in with learning a new language, the process can become a lot easier. Change the language while watching your favorite movie (with English captions), read translated books or poetry, or listen to music from your chosen languages country. By integrating language into these familiar forms, you can make associations and connections more quickly regarding each word and phrase!
3. Match new words and phrases with melody.
The brain naturally responds to music, and it has been proven that coupling new information with music helps humans retain that new information more effectively. You can use this to your advantage by singing songs in the language you are learning to pick up phrases, or creating your own songs or melodies with bits of vocabulary – no matter the method, your language retention will be boosted and your accents improved.
4. Make a daily habit out of it.
Practice truly does make perfect, no matter the context – if you don’t make time daily to bulk up your skills, they will quickly soften and slip away. Find the unique ways that will help you keep practicing throughout the day. Whether you are utilizing a mobile app or other software, placing post it notes through the house, or listening to foreign podcasts on-the-go, flexing those language muscles often is really key to developing those skills.
5. Immerse yourself completely!
It’s been said many times that to best learn a language to a level of fluency, you need to physically travel to the countries or regions that speak it. If possible, make a trek to an area that speaks the language you are learning – you will not only get much better at speaking and communicating, you will understand the culture behind the language as well!
If travel is out of budget or otherwise unattainable, there are many ways still to interact with those who are fluent. Connecting with a tutor via video chat online and finding a pen pal to write to are just a couple of great ways to do this without leaving the comfort of home.
Don’t be intimidated by the new worlds you’ll view during your learning process — with great tools, patience and support under your belt, even the most complicated language can be tamed and understood.