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Advice for Those Trying to Learn a Foreign Language

Updated on August 30, 2015

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Anyone Can Learn a Foreign Language

I would like to start by assuring you that anyone can learn a foreign language. Regardless of age, lack of time, or any other ridiculous excuses you may try to come up with, YOU can learn a foreign language! Nevertheless, it can be a daunting task. For this reason, it is important that you stick with it, as it is sure to become easier with practice.

Motivation

The first thing to keep in mind is that you need to stay motivated; without some type of motivation, you will not last very long. Whether it is for fun, business marketability, increased intellectual ability, or other reasons, find your motivation and use it as a constant reminder throughout the process. If you need help getting motivated, here is a good place to start.

For an example of an international website in which to buy resources, www.elcorteingles.es is a great example for those trying to learn Spanish. This is a very popular Spanish mall that sells a wide variety of items.

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Interestingly enough, it has been shown that different cultures and languages have distinctive pauses in between sentence structures and words, otherwise known as their speaking rhythms. Listening to music and singing along will help you acquire these subtleties to improve your accent in that language!

Having trouble finding a translated version of a book? Harry Potter has been translated into many different languages and is also written at a fairly easy reading level! Plus, many English speakers have read the book; if not, you should check it out, it is worth your time!

Immerse Yourself

This part is crucial for language learning. Immersing yourself in the language will provide for the fastest and best results. For those with higher levels of language skills, this step is absolutely crucial to try to achieve fluency.

Optimally, you would move to another country and become completely immersed in the culture.
This would by far be the most efficient way of learning a new language. However, not everyone
is capable of dropping everything to do this. Therefore, you must find your own creative methods of "immersing yourself".

  • Change the language settings on your computer, your social media, your telephone, etc. Do as much as possible to live and encounter the language on a daily basis. The more of that language and the less of your native one, the better,
  • Watch TV and movies in that language. If you can find channels on your television, great! If not, there are live streams available to watch online on various websites, all you have to do is a bit of searching. Also, you can find a favorite TV series or movie to watch online. For those trying to learn Spanish, Hulu has a nice selection of Spanish shows. You can also order many different seasons or movies online at places like amazon or even international websites.
  • Listen to music in that language. Youtube has a plethera of songs in all sorts of different languages. If you are having a hard time finding songs you like, try google searching on the subject. If you do find some music you like, type the name of the song/band into pandora and let it do the work for you! Don't be discouraged if you can't understand most of it; remember, songs can even be hard to understand in your own language! Simply hearing the words and the way they are pronounced will be very beneficial. It will also help you develop a more natural sounding accent.
  • Read in that language. The internet is full of endless information in all different types of languages. If you are a beginner it may be hard at first, but don't worry you will get there! For the most efficient methods, conduct your searches in that language and you will be able to find even more options! Also try ordering books. Having a physical object in front of you can be great at times and it will remind you to practice. Still having trouble? Order a book that is originally written in your native language that you have read before but is a translated version in the language you are trying to learn. This way you will not have to work as hard to understand it, allowing you to concentrate harder on the vocabulary and grammatical aspects! Also try reading the news on a daily basis. Simply find a legitimate news source that reports in that language.
  • Talk to yourself and think in that language. The more you practice, the better you will get and the more natural it will become.


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Utilize Free Resources

There are tons of free resources out there for language learning, all you have to do is find them. Below are a few of the most efficient ones:

  • With the emergence of the internet in recent decades, many people often forget that they have a huge source of information in the form of libraries. Check your local library for how-to books and sources. Also look for books, music and movies produced in that language.
  • AnkiDroid - This is a great app for your computer or phone. You download flashcards with vocabulary or grammar rules and then get reminders every day to practice.
  • Duolingo - This is a great source for anyone trying to learn a language. It is extremely interactive and provides practice with all sorts of different aspects of language learning including writing, reading, speaking, etc. It also helps give you a sense of acheivement as you earn rewards and unlock levels as you go.
  • Sharedtalk - This is a great way to practice your speaking skills with natives. The site is full of people trying to practice all sorts of different languages. The trick is that they are also trying to learn, so more than likely you will spend about half of the time practicing the language you are trying to learn and then the other half the language they are trying to learn (your native language).

Do Not Be Afraid to Make a Mistake

The last but most important piece of language learning advice is not to be afraid to make a mistake.To learn a language, you need to speak. Speak as often as possible! You cannot be afraid to make mistakes; you can learn from those mistakes and this will only help you get better! Practice, practice, and practice, and do not be embarrassed to do so!

Want more advice? Here is a great presentation with further advice on the subject.

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    • thecollegeway profile image
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      thecollegeway 4 years ago

      That is very true! I have been able to use my Spanish skills even in countries like France, Italy and the Netherlands!

    • cecileportilla profile image

      Cecile Portilla 4 years ago from West Orange, New Jersey

      thecollegeway

      Nice Hub! Thanks for the great tips on learning a second language. Sometime you don't know when you will need those skills. I got lost in Spain some time ago and found myself using sign language in order to find band aid in a grocery store. I was so happy to see a McDonalds when I got hungry where people spoke English! I probably would have starved if I had ended up in some Spanish restaurant trying to order food in that language.

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