10 Tips for Learning a New Language  

Are you thinking about learning a new language? We have tips for you to start it as extracted from the Guardian

1. Make realistic, specific goals

You have decided to learn another language. The first thing you need to do is ask what you want to achieve and by when? Donavan Whyte, vice president of enterprise and education at Rosetta Stone, says: “Language learning is best when broken down into manageable goals that are achievable over a few months. This is far more motivating and realistic.”

You might be feeling wildly optimistic when you start but aiming to be fluent is not necessarily the best idea. Phil McGowan, director at Verbmaps, recommends making these goals tangible and specific: “Why not set yourself a target of being able to read a newspaper article in the target language without having to look up any words in the dictionary?” 

2. Remind yourself why you are learning

Recognizing exactly why you want to learn a language is important. Alex Rawlings, a language teacher now learning his 13th language, says: “Motivation is usually the first thing to go, especially among students who are teaching themselves.” To keep the momentum going, he suggests writing down ten reasons you are learning a language and sticking it to the front of the file you are using: “I turn to these in times of self-doubt.”

3. Focus on precisely what you want to learn

The discussion around how to learn a language often slides into a debate about so-called traditional v tech approaches. For Aaron Ralby, director of Linguisticator, this debate misses the point: “The question is not so much about online v offline or app v book. Rather it should be how can we assemble the necessary elements of language for a particular objective, present them user-friendly, and provide a means for students to understand those elements.”

Consider the substance behind the style or technology when signing up for a particular method or approach. “Ultimately,” he says, “the learning takes place inside you rather than outside, regardless of whether it’s a computer or book or a teacher in front of you.”

4. Read for pleasure

For many of our panellists, reading was not only great for making progress but one of the most rewarding aspects of the learning experience. Alex Rawlings explains that reading for pleasure “exposes you to all sorts of vocabulary you won’t find in daily life and normalizes otherwise baffling and complicated grammatical structures. The first book you ever finish in a foreign language is a monumental achievement that you’ll remember for a long time.” 

5. Learn vocabulary in context

Memorizing lists of vocabulary can be challenging, not to mention potentially dull. Ed Cooke, co-founder and chief executive of Memrise, believes that association is key to retaining new words: “A great way to build vocabulary is to make sure the lists you’re learning come from situations or texts that you have experienced yourself so that the content is always relevant and connects to background experience.”

6. Ignore the myths: age is just a number

You are a monolingual adult: have you missed the language boat? Ralby argues, “a key language myth is that it’s harder as an adult.” Adults and children may learn in different ways, but that shouldn’t deter you from committing to learning another language. “Languages are simultaneously organic and systematic. As children, we learn languages organically and instinctively; as adults, we can learn them systematically.”

If you’re still not convinced of your chances, Ralby suggests drawing inspiration from early philologists and founders of linguistics who “learned dozens of languages to encyclopedic levels as adults.”

7. Do some revision of your native language

Speaking your first language may be second nature, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you understand it well. Kerstin Hammes, the editor of the Fluent Language Blog, believes you can’t make good progress in a second language until you know your own. “I think understanding your native language and generally how language works are essential before you launch yourself at a bunch of foreign phrases.”

8. Don’t underestimate the importance of translation

Different approaches may be necessary for varying stages of the learning process. Once you have reached a certain level of proficiency and can say quite a bit, Rebecca Braun, senior lecturer in German studies at Lancaster University, says it is typical to feel a slowing down in progress. “Translation,” she says, “is such an important exercise for helping you get over a certain plateau that you will reach as a language learner. Translation exercises don’t allow you to paraphrase and force the learner onto the next level.”.

9. Beware of fluency

Many of the panellists were cautious of the F-word. Hammes argues not only is it challenging to define what fluency is, but “as a goal, it is so much bigger than it deserves to be. Language learning never stops because it’s cultural learning, personal growth and continuous improvement. I believe that this is where learners go wrong”. 

10. Go to where the language is spoken

It may not be an option for everyone, but Braun reminds us that “if you are serious about learning the language and getting direct pleasure from what you have learned, you need to go where that language is spoken.”

Travel and living abroad can complement learning in the classroom: “The books and verb charts may be the easiest way to ensure you expose yourself to the language at home, but the people and the culture will far outclass them once you get to the country where your language is spoken.”

Credit: The Guardian 



No responses yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *