Normally the process of language acquisition takes place in Children right from birth. This happens spontaneously without any effort or formal teaching. It happens naturally due to a child’s super flexible brain framework. This is why children find it easier to learn a language, even a second language. On the other hand, adults find it super difficult to learn a foreign language. It’s not because of their incompetence or lack of attention. The truth is learning a foreign language is hard.
The struggle is caused by the adult’s superior cognitive framework. It’s not so easy to restructure your cognitive focus within a blink of an eye. This requires a lot of practice, change in mind and a lot of time.
All languages are believed to have evolved from the same basic foundation. Changes occurred in them when different groups of people migrated to different directions. With time different groups came in contact with each other. Some groups remained isolated.
With the passage of time, this gave rise to different languages. So human beings are not genetically programmed to speak only one language. Rather learning a second or even a third language can provide you with a competitive edge over many.
Different ways to learn a foreign language
Learning a language is similar to a journey. You have to start from the beginning. Pick up a few common words. Then you have to start using them. This is not the end. Learning a language is a two-way thing. You also have to understand what others are trying to communicate with you.
For this, you need to build the knowledge of vocabulary and grammar of the target language you want to learn. Well, this may sound very simple and all. But it’s easier said than done. It’s a challenging task to start speaking a foreign language.
It will present you with a lot of challenges in the beginning. But upon overcoming all the barriers you will end up speaking a foreign tongue on the other side of the journey. The tips for learning a new language are as follows:
Make a list of your first 100 words: use them in sentences
The fastest way to learn a language is to make a list of a few essential vocabularies. As a beginner, your first task should be to fix your attention to memorize these words. Start with a bare minimum by simply learning how to introduce yourself. Know how to greet and say goodbye to people.
Make sure you include a few important action verbs in the list such as I think, I speak, I understand and so on. Include a few adjectives as well such as big, small, good, bad, sweet, spice and so on. These will help you construct simple sentences.
Invest your attention wisely
While studying the language try to be mindful and focus on being mindful for longer hours. The easiest way to learn a language is to push yourself to study for a longer period of time. Study hard for 3-4 hours on a particular day rather than studying one hour each day of the week.
Give close attention in choosing the words that will help you converse and include them in your first hundred list. Practice those words vocally as well as in your head to earn fluency.
Become conversational after learning the first 100 words
The first 100 words that you have learned will get you far enough to start conversing. In fact, research has shown that almost half the conversations that take place in any language are limited to the 100 most frequently used words.
Use this vocabulary to get comfortable with the grammar of the target language. Try to make sentences in your head and use them in your conversations.
Accept the fact that you will sound stupid
When you start to learn a foreign language and start using it, it’s very usual to make a mess of the words and sound very stupid. You may even end up constructing sentences with embarrassing meanings or with no meaning at all.
You have to live with the fact that you are a beginner and mistakes are likely to happen. People around you will understand and help you get through
Use newly learned words right away
Whenever you come across any new word write it down in your notebook. Try to say them out loud. Make sentences in your head using the words. Then try to use those words in your conversations.
Find yourself an online language buddy
One of the best ways to learn a language is to converse. There are a lot of things a person can gain from a conversation that cannot be attained by studying. A lot of things need to be processed in the brain to speak a language. Finding an online language partner will be just the perfect solution to this.
A language exchange is a method where two native speakers of different languages get in touch to help each other learn their language. There are multiple Facebook groups for almost every language. After finding a language partner you can connect on skype or other mediums of communication. This will help you practice your target language.
Take an online language course
Trying to acquire a foreign language all on your own may leave you in a haphazard condition. So you can seek help from an online course on your target language to keep your learning process on track. Language classes can be lengthy and take up a lot of your time. But seeking help online can put you off from all these inconveniences.
Start off with the right work ethic
Mastering a language is very intellectually intensive work. It is certain to open up new connections in your brain. You might experience headaches in parts of your head you never knew existed. Practising a new language will push your brain to newer limits. But this might not happen until you have worked your brain to the fullest. Attaining that stage of brain melt is very good to conquer a new language.
Set small goals
For effective language learning goals you have to be specific. Say for example Learning Spanish within the year 2020 cannot be a smart goal. You have to be specific. Make realistic goals that are measurable. Like memorizing 10-15 words each day or being able to converse with a native without stumbling. Write down all your goals and work towards them. Evaluate your progress. Reward yourself upon completing each goal.
Watch TV and film in your target language
Watching films and TV shows in your target language is a healthy way to gain some insights on how speakers of the language speak. You can even use your native subtitles to understand what the characters are saying. This can be a great way for you to snatch a few new words. You can also pick up how they are used in sentences.
Use flashcards to learn new words
Flashcards are a very effective technique to increase your vocabulary. Including visuals in flashcards will help you remember the words better. You can also note down how to use the word in a sentence. Using flashcards instead of learning vocabulary from a book may get you better results.
Use the right pronunciation as early as possible
To exhibit some sort of command over your newly earned skill try using the right pronunciation of a word as soon as you learn it. This will help avoid all sorts of miscommunication.
Use a translator app in your cell phone
While conversing with people in the new language, always keep a translator or a dictionary app on your phone. As a new speaker, you might easily get stuck in the middle of a conversation.
Feel free to look it up on your phone. Learning something this way will make your learning experience even more fruitful. It will be easier for you to recall it later as you picked it up from your day to day practical experience.
Google translator app is a very helpful app for learners and even travellers.
Work with your psychology not against
Learning a new language is like stepping into a whole new world for most people. It’s very different from any other academic studies you might have gone through. So it might feel a very challenging and intriguing task. So be sure not to stress yourself. Embrace the hard work.
Along with the hard work learning a language can be fun as well. It will create a new feeling of fulfilment inside you upon crossing each milestone. Learning a language will also expose you to the endless possibilities that you are yet to explore. The exciting possibilities waiting for you on the other side of the challenge will surely motivate you.
Try sign language
Sign language is easier to learn than other verbal languages. Although it is spoken with signs its just like any other language with its own grammar and linguistics. Learning sign language can help you achieve the changes in the cognitive framework required for speaking a foreign language. It has even been noticed that learning sign language has improved the student’s ability to communicate verbally.
So upon learning sign language you will find it easier to acquire and communicate in other foreign languages as well. A lot of people are now pursuing sign language before learning a foreign language. It has shown better results for learners.
Reasons to learn a foreign language
The world is now becoming more and more connected. So the necessity to ‘be skilled’ in a new language has now become more and more immense. Apart from benefiting with improved cognitive functions with a bilingual brain, learning a foreign language will transform you both personally and professionally.
It is a great skill to achieve during this heyday of globalization. You may have decided to learn a language to take up a new skill, help you out during your travel or to qualify for a better job. Apart from these, acquiring a language comes with a lot of other advantages. Some benefits that language learners enjoy are:
1. Become smarter
It’s now a proven fact that multilingual people have a higher density of grey material in their brain. It has a massive impact on your IQ levels. The facts are simple. You become smarter by exercising your brain. Taking language lessons is just the right activity to boost your brain’s capabilities. This also enables you to concentrate better and increases your problem-solving skills.
2. Well sought by employers
Employers love these kinds of qualities. So being skilled in a foreign language will automatically qualify you for better career options. The mental flexibility and superior cognitive skills of multilingual people are exactly what employers seek in today’s competitive world.
3. Communicate with more people
This is one of the most satisfying experiences of learning a new language. After gaining proficiency in a foreign language you can easily connect to a lot of new people. You will be surprised how people respond when you start to communicate with them in their mother tongue.
Upon learning German you can connect to an additional 220 million speakers of the German language. Learning Italian will enable you to communicate with 65 million speakers of the Italian language.
4. Become more creative
Researchers have shown that experimenting with new words and phrases can improve your creativity. There is no doubt that learning a new language induces your focus and problem-solving skills. A bilingual brain can also improve divergent thinking. This will help you think out of the box and come up with several solutions to the same problem.
5. Earn an essential skill
It has become an essential skill to procure such qualities. As more and more people are becoming bilingual and even trilingual it’s becoming necessary to catch up with them.
6. It becomes easier to learn a third language
It’s been found that students who have already learned a second language find it easier to pick up a third or a fourth one. With some experience under your belt, you will find it easier making way through your learning style. Besides, your brain will gain a better aptitude to receive new languages.
7. Helpful while travelling a foreign country
The main fun of learning a foreign language is to be able to socialize with new people. Students used to learning new languages can easily grasp a few bits of any language. So your travel experience becomes even more unique when you go out and communicate with the locals.
8. Build self-confidence
Mastering a new language is not an easy task. So upon successfully overcoming this feat your confidence level automatically increases. You will automatically become more confident to plan and achieve your future goals.
Whether you are looking to learn a foreign language to get a new job or make new friends, acquiring a language is a challenge worth taking. This requires a lot of hard work and dedication. But the rewards are multiple. Happy learning my friends.