10 Language Learning Tips
How long do you think you could learn a new language, to achieve native level fluency? Few years, right? As much as I’d like to tell you that I have ways in which that will allow you to reach a native level fluency in less than a year…it is just not possible. To master a new language takes many years of dedication to truly master a language. I have good news though; you can achieve conversational fluency in few months time.
Conversational fluency means the ability to speak about normal, everyday issues with a native speaker at an ordinary, conversational level. This is what you need to achieve if your goal is to be able to communicate with foreign people, work in another country, or successfully understand their culture. Unless having a native level of proficiency is key to your work or study (for example if you are studying a degree), you should first try your best to achieving conversational fluency.
Before we go further with the 10 best language learning tips, let me tell you something about myself: I don’t speak many languages fluently. But before I launched BestLanguageServices.com, I used to translate English into various other languages. Due to my profession, over the last years I’ve researched the best way to learn a language. Much of my research has focused on polyglots. Polyglots are people who master several languages. If you have ever came across someone who speaks many languages fluently, you probably thought: “How can they learn so many languages?” But they will tell you that they are normal people who happen to love languages. We can attribute their success story to the principles they follow. In this post, we will do our best to give you 10 best language tips that most polyglots use. If you practice these tips, you will discover one of the best language learning secrets, to reach conversational fluency in your language of interest within a short period of time.
1. Speak it!
Languages are for communication and not for storing in the brain. One of the best ways to learn a new language is to speak with the natives of the language.
Yes, it’s not that easy, but just do it. You will make mistakes, but you will see yourself learning new words and pronouncing them correctly. When you speak, even when using few words you know, you will be able to remember those words in the future.
2. Make Mistakes.
Don’t let fear stop you from speaking or using your new language. If you’re holding out because of fear of saying the wrong thing or mispronouncing words, and wait until you are in a advanced level, then your progress will be slow.
People understand that you are not native speaker, and therefore don’t mind if you make mistakes. Generally people like to help, so they can only help you when you use the language; when you speak with them. Most people love when they meet someone learning their language; even when making many grammatical errors.
Be brave, don’t hold out – just use what you have learned when you come across a situation in which you can use.
3. Start With Phrases That Are Frequently Used.
If you pick up a language book, you will start with phrases like ‘How are you?’ or ‘What is your name?’
They choose those frequently used phrases because they know these are the most commonly used phrases; and that you will most likely need in your first conversations. Memorize these phrases and use them – these phrases will be the building blocks of your language progress.
However, make sure you also search and learn the phrases that are useful to you in your real life. Think about the things you like to talk about daily, and the words you use most often. Learn those, and use them as a starting point for building your vocabulary.
4. Motivate yourself.
It is difficult to learn or generally to do something if you don’t have a goal. Give yourself a reason why you want to learn the language. You want to work in another country; you want to study abroad; you want to travel – when you know why and when, it is easy to get motivated. Think about why you want to learn this language, and how your life would change after you study it.
Ask yourself questions like ‘why do I want to learn Spanish?’ ‘How will learning French improve my life?’
Write down your answer, and change it into a goal with a deadline.
5. Have A Dictionary.
A dictionary is a must if you want to learn languages correctly. You will need to check words regularly; so you can learn the word correctly for the first time; instead of memorizing a word or phrase only later to realize that you were using it incorrectly all along. Use a dictionary if you are not sure.
Luckily in today’s world, you don’t have to carry a dictionary with you all the time; there are dictionary apps that you can download on your phone. Download a dictionary in your first language. There are many free options to choose from.
Google is also a great tool when it comes searching the meaning of words and phrases.
6. Learn A Word. Use The Word.
When I was learning English, I remember our teacher set a day when we could practise the words that we had learned. Using words is the best way to make sure that the new word sticks in your brain. When you pick up a new vocabulary, try your best to use it as soon as possible, and few times after that. It is unlikely that you will ever forget that new vocabulary.
They say people see what they search or what they are mindful of, so when you use the words you learn, you will start to see it everywhere. This is called “frequency illusion”.
Make sure you use your new vocabulary regularly in your conversations and writing.
7. Get A Language Buddy.
We Language buddies motivate each other. When you see your buddy making few correct sentences, you don’t left behind; therefore you will make sure you learn new vocabulary next time, so you can understand them better next time.
Find a friend to learn with, and set a time when you practice together. Friends need to hold each other accountable. We are generally stick to our promises we make to others; so if we have language buddies, we will most likely do more than when it is just ourselves.
If you have a friend who speaks the language, it is a good thing to ask them if they don’t mind having conversations with you. There are also online pals who also want to practice a new language.
8. Understand Language Structure.
When you know things like word classes, parts of speech, verbs, nouns etc, it will be easy for you to identify them in the new language. At the beginning you will need to learn a lot of new vocabulary and phrases, but as you progress, you will need to review how the new language grammar works, and how words connect to each other, before you fully dive into the new language.
Trust me, it will be really worth it.
One of the most difficult things to understand when learning a new language is grammar patterns. Languages differ in the patterns where verbs, nouns, adverbs and adjectives are placed in a sentence.
At the begging you don’t have to learn a lot of grammar, but it is worth learning the basics.
9. Speak Slowly At First.
When we are learning how to drive, we do it slowly; it would be difficult if we were told to drive in the motor way in our first lessons.
When learning new language, it’s necessary to slow down things down at first. This gives our brain time to think about how we can connect words. It also allows us to get our mouth around the sound of the new words.
It is OK to speak slowly at first, and there is nothing wrong with that – after all you are not a native speaker. Speaking slowly also enables other people to understand you better.
10. Don’t Put It Off!
Procrastination will kill your progress. Putting things off will jeopardize your language learning, and delay your progress.
You may have put things off before, only to realize that months and years have passed – if you started you could have finished by already.
Procrastination is a strange part of the human mentality. It is normal that we want to put things off, those of us who succeed in anything tend to force themselves in doing things they don’t like doing. Sometimes we also put off things that we generally like doing.
It’s not hopeless though. The best way to break our procrastination habit is to mind ourselves our goals and all the good things that can happen when we finally learn our new language.
It is always the best to start new things slowly so we don’t put unreasonable expectations on ourselves. We tend to do more once we start things slowly instead of too much too soon.
Whatever you do, start it today! They say long journey starts with the first step. You will be amazed what you can achieve in short period of time – the first step is the most important!
“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”