Learning another language is one goal that a lot of people hope to achieve, but the time and effort you have to dedicate to it, not to mention the difficulty of actually learning all those words, prevent a lot of people from succeeding. But for those who do commit to it, learning another language is extremely beneficial: not only has it been shown to improve your memory and decrease the chance of developing dementia, being bilingual massively boosts your confidence and is a highly desirable skill by employers.
Yes, it is a skill you have to devote time to, but there are many ways to make the process much easier and quicker. Learning a new language can be broken down into three sections: vocabulary, grammar and vocabulary + grammar (also known as fluency). I’m going to let you in on a few tips to make sure you’re fluent in no time.
Building your vocabulary is crucial to be able to converse quickly and naturally, but it doesn’t have to involve tediously translating a long list of words. This section of learning a language is all about memorising, so it helps if you already know how you best learn: do you prefer to write things down, then maybe translating a long list of words will actually work for you; do you like using colours or diagrams to visualise things, then maybe colour coding topics or drawing mind-maps of words will help you remember them; do you prefer listening to someone else talking, then perhaps asking someone else to quiz you would be useful.
Another way to make the process fun is to use an app. There are lots of free or paid apps that will help you build your vocabulary using images and games designed to help you remember more. I personally use Duolingo, which has many free features and has courses for many different languages, but there are many other apps too – just search on your phone’s app store.
The second section to learning a language deals with how to string the words you have learned into sentences. Here, it will important to know which words are nouns, verbs and adjectives, so it may be useful to consider this when learning vocabulary.
Some of the apps that help you learn vocabulary will also teach you grammar, but you can also find websites online, including worksheets, to understand concepts. It may also be worth considering buying a textbook for learning your chosen language – that way, you can follow the structure and topics covered in the book, and complete any exercises to practice what you’ve learned.
Finally, it is important to consider trying to not sound stupid in your foreign language. This means becoming fluent in talking, reading and writing, as well as learning to listen to someone talking quickly and comprehending what they’re saying. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to talk with native speakers or someone completely fluent. You may know someone who would be willing to help you, or you may be able to afford to go on holiday and immerse yourself in the language.
However, I know these options aren’t available to everyone, so I would suggest finding resources on the internet. Youtube is a fantastic place to find videos in other languages with subtitles; why not try to see how much you can understand before reading the English underneath? Also, you can slow down Youtube videos using the settings button in the bottom right corner if the person is talking too fast for you to catch what they’re saying. There are also loads of websites out there that you can find with a quick google search, that feature videos or audio of native speakers, as well as tips on how to sound more natural.
I’d love to know what languages you are learning, and please share any useful websites for learning specific languages in the comments section down below!