Learning a foreign language is a tiresome but extremely gratifying process that continues throughout life. But if you’re about to move somewhere abroad where English is not widely spoken, you might be happy to hear there are some easy tips for learning a new language that will help you settle in better and blend into a community.
So, before you go on to choose international movers to ship your belongings overseas, take your time to find out how to learn some of the hundreds of languages with (relative) ease and be able to communicate with the natives. True, Spanish and English are among the most commonly spoken in the world, but the pool to choose from is vast and exciting.
3 Expert Tips for Learning a New Language
It isn’t easy, but it’s possible. A sheer number of polyglots in the world proves it. Among the leading ones is an American, Timothy Doner. He speaks 23 of them. Not a bad feat, eh? Still, it requires a massive amount of determination and practice, so let’s begin with some expert advice.
#1 A Popular Tip for Learning a New Language – Start With the Basics
All experts agree on one thing – no matter whether you are beginning to learn English, Spanish, South African Xhosa, or Papuan Hiri Motu, you should always start by learning essential words and sentences in a new language. It will get you through most of the everyday conversations and can serve as a confidence boost for the next steps.
#2 Speak As Much As You Can
Practice makes perfect, as people across the world say. So don’t hesitate to practice on every occasion. Use what you’ve already learned to speak with folks you meet. Make no mistake; most people will be glad to help you with pronunciation or that one word that constantly escapes you. Try not to think in English if you can avoid it.
You may think of Spanish as easy to learn. It isn’t exactly, but it can be a great foundation to learn Italian or Portuguese afterward. It’s all a matter of time and will.
#3 Don’t Be Afraid of Making Mistakes
To err is human, and it is even more so when it comes to speaking in a tongue you don’t really know that well yet. Don’t be afraid of mispronouncing words or even using the wrong ones. Your lack of knowledge may yet prove useful. Say you moved overseas for love and you get into an argument with your significant other. What’s better to get you off the hook than the good old excuse of misunderstanding?
Take a Private Course
The most obvious choice for learning a language is to take a course. It would be perfect to have a private tutor, but that can be a lot more expensive. Still, that way, you have all the teacher’s attention, and the session will move at your pace, and not at the pace of the least good student. The second best option is a course with fewer people in the class, or some of the online learning platforms such as Duolingo, for example.
From the outside, chaotic studying might seem compelling. It’s not, though, for you may soon find your head spinning around. Instead, set specific goals. Today you’ll learn twenty words about your favorite topic. Tomorrow you’ll overcome that conditional tense that has bugged you for years in school. Setting such more or less easily achievable milestones will prove to be a much better use of your time and will make your learning experience much more enjoyable.
Always Sport a Dictionary
Sometimes you’ll have to use a word that you just can’t remember. For such occasions, it can’t hurt to have a dictionary with you. It’s a great asset, be it in paper or digital mode.
Switch Between Lessons
One of the best ways to make your experience better is not to get stuck. You studied pronunciation the entire day and can’t bear it anymore? No problem, just switch and learn vocabulary. Enough of that? Try with grammar.
All languages are pools of knowledge that can be taken partially, and at will. After all, you can always turn on the TV or some podcast and listen to how native speakers speak.
Have a Friend to Speak To
Spending time with friends is lovely, and doing it and perfecting your linguistic skills is even better. You will be more relaxed with a friend, and he (or she) can correct your mistakes, especially if they are native speakers. It’s even better if one of your speaking buddies is your significant other.
Have no fear, English and Spanish languages are spoken across the world, and therefore most likely to be learned. From Honolulu and Santiago de Chile to Manila and Tarawa, there will be someone to share the burden of learning with you.
Use Media and Popular Culture
Among the most helpful ways to master a new tongue is using the media. So read newspapers, watch a TV show or a movie, or listen to music. Thanks to its global status, English can be heard in every part of the globe in some form or another. At the same time, music stars like Santana or Shakira (there’s a niche for everyone’s taste) make Spanish more relatable to people who speak different languages.
It has to be noted, though, that none of this is a substitute for the actual course. It can only help.
Talk With Yourself and Write
Among the often cited tips is that you should express yourself in every way you can, and talking to yourself is an excellent way to practice. That way, you won’t have to worry about accidentally offending someone or saying something inappropriate. Maybe you’ll try to act as a commentator for a basketball game, or be a weather person for the day (if you recently studied words for weather phenomena). With the help of the dictionary and maybe some audio lessons, you’ll be perfecting your speaking skills with great speed and be a lot more confident when faced with real people. At a higher level of studying, writing can be equally useful and good for you.
Don’t Give Up
When push comes to shove, the most important is not to give up when you hit a glitch. Keep studying, keep talking, and keep reading even when it seems that your brain will short-circuit. It may seem devilishly difficult, but it isn’t impossible. And keep in mind that it can always be worse. You are not, after all, required to read Welsh. You’re not, right?
What Not To Do
After going through what should be done, let’s wrap it up by busting a few popular and widespread misconceptions about learning a foreign language. The first is that your age determines your success in studying languages. It doesn’t. Besides, you can learn everywhere, not just at school. In fact, it’s preferable that school is the least part of the process. Don’t fixate on any particular segment. Grammar is important, but not the only thing there is. The same goes for vocabulary.
And most important of all – you can speak a language even if you’re not fluent yet. In fact, you can’t master it without speaking and engaging in conversations.