Make Learning Easier with Immersion: 7 Tips to Learn a Language Faster
One of the best ways for learning a language is by immersing yourself in it. Yes, words and phrases are important, but you will also need to understand the culture to really understand the language. This means listening to the sounds of the language, watching movies or people of the cultural group, and even trying some local cuisine.
7 Ways to Immerse Yourself in a Language:
1) Visit the country. Go to a country where the language is spoken and spend time with the locals. The best way to learn the language is by constantly practicing it. Not only will you learn new words, but locals will be able to correct you if you make a mistake. Don’t worry about what others will think when they hear you trying to speak their language; most people are happy when they see you making an effort to communicate with them. Learn the language, shop for authentic items in markets and meet new people—visiting the country definitely has advantages. Plus, you’ll have plenty of photos and stories to share with your friends and family when you return. Of course, you may enjoy the country so much that you want to live there… anything is possible!
2) Find programs in the country. Search online for exchange programs, volunteer programs, study-abroad programs, or work-abroad programs in a country where people speak the language you are trying to learn. That way, you can stay in a country longer than if you just went there on holidays. As a bonus, some programs even help you financially or at least point you in the direction of awesome deals for accommodation, transportation, etc. For example, if you are a teacher and looking to improve your French, you could sign up to be an English language assistant in France. There are language assistant programs where you can earn a stipend (small salary) per month to help pay for your expenses—and, in the process, you get valuable experience to put on your resume.
3) Find a local place. Cities are becoming more and more multicultural. Nowadays, you can often find restaurants for Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, etc. cuisine. Why not stop by a coffee shop, bakery, or restaurant where people speak the language you wish to learn? Often the owners of the establishment still speak the language of the country where the food it from. Some parts of cities also have ethnic regions, such as Italian quarters or Chinatowns. Visit these places to enjoy some great food and get to know more people with whom you can practice the language you are learning.
4) Attend language clubs. Look online for language clubs that meet every week or every month to practice your language skills. You never know… you might make a friend or even a travel companion for a future trip to a country where the language is spoken.
5) Take a language class. Sign up for a language class that emphasizes speaking rather than one focusing on grammar and writing. It is important for you to speak the language, as I’m sure you would like to talk with people when you travel, and not just flip through a phrase book pointing at random sentences. If you can't fit a language class into your schedule, consider purchasing Rosetta Stone. This program enables its users to learn a language like children do, by associating words and sounds with images.
6) Listen to podcasts and music. When exercising (or driving or cleaning the house), listen to podcasts or music in the language you wish to learn. iTunes and other online music stores make it easy for us to find radio stations, podcasts and music in the language of our choosing. You’ll learn something while you are working out, doing the dishes, etc.. Depending where you are, you may say words and phrases out loud, or sing along to the music—for example, at home or with friends. If you can watch YouTube videos while exercising or have access to language programs on your TV, these would also make excellent options to practice listening to the language.
7) Talk with others. Practice speaking the language with friends, family or people you meet on your travels who speak the language. If you are able to speak the language frequently, you will improve your ability to not only speak, but also to understand the language. You can also be a support system to each other. With Skype and Facebook, it has become easier to chat with others and arrange get-togethers. Plus, practicing with others is fun—it’s always fun to hear each other’s attempts at speaking a foreign language!
The more you speak a language, the more words and phrases you will remember. Don’t worry if you make a mistake—it’s normal! Be proud of yourself for each new word you learn. And, while you’re learning, why not treat yourself to the cuisine of the people who speak the language you’re learning… Have fun with the process!
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