- Education and Science
Learning a Foreign Language Easily and Quickly – My Personal Experience
I came to an idea to write a hub about this after answering a question here on HP. A fellow Hubber asked the following question: What is the best, fastest and most effective way to learn a new language? Naturally, I gave my opinion on the subject, and then got to thinking how easily and quickly I learned my “first” second language.
Cartoon Network and the Start of My Journey through the Land of the English Language
I discovered a TV channel that was all about cartoons, and I was delighted to be able to watch cartoons all day long. These cartoons included the ones without any talking, such and Tom and Jerry, but they also included more serious cartoons such as Jonny Quest, and the ones that were funny only if you could understand what the characters were saying, like Scooby-Doo and Johnny Bravo. So, there was nothing else to do but spend my time watching these cartoons, and trying to figure out when to laugh. After a while, I got pretty good at this and discovered some patterns, i.e. sentences and words that would be repeated by characters in almost every episode of these great cartoons. These probably included things like “What?”, “Okay!”, “Lets’ go!”, and similar words or short sentences.
I Became an “Advanced” English Listener and Understander
After a few months of my sitting/lying/sleeping in front of the TV, I began to laugh and smile at those loveable cartoon characters more and more often. I couldn’t yet understand everything they were saying, but I actually understood most of the things. So, I started to really enjoy watching Cartoon Network. I enjoyed it so much that I stopped watching the cartoons that our TV stations aired on weekends and in the evenings, as Cartoon Network offered a variety of cartons which I could finally watch and understand.
Listening to Music in English
Aside from cartoons, I also started listening to music at a very early age. I was always surrounded by records, tapes and CD’s. When my parents bought our first CD player, I began listening to the stuff my dad used to buy, and these were CD’s by bands like The Beatles, for example. I used to listen to these CD’s literally every day, and every night I would fall asleep with the sounds of these great bands, as there was a CD player in my room at the time, as well.
The Point of This Hub – English, French and Italian
Finally, we have come to the point I was trying to make here. I learned English easily and quickly, and I have been learning the language for the past 17 years. However, when I went to high school, I started learning French and Latin. Latin is a different story, as it is not a “live” language. However, French is a language much like any other, no different than English to native speakers of Serbian. However, learning French proved to be nothing like learning English. It required a lot of studying, a lot of bad grades, a lot of time and effort. I did learn the language in the end, but not nearly as well as I learned English. If I went to Paris, I would probably be able to communicate to someone at a basic level, but I could never write a grammatically correct sentence or two in French, without the help of dictionaries and grammar books. The same is with Italian which I learned during my college days, although it was easier than learning French, in the sense that they are both Romance languages, and I already had a good background from learning French.
Subconsciously Learning a New Language
So, we come to the part where I realized that I had learned English without even knowing it. As I said at the beginning of this hub, I started watching cartoons in English when I was in the second grade. In the third grade, we started learning English at school. Surprisingly, I understood everything my English teacher was saying during our first class, and it turned out that I knew so many things over the first couple of months of these classes that she wouldn’t believe me when I said I had never learned English before. Apparently, I was lying to her, as I had been learning the language for almost a year.
So, What Foreign Languages Do I Know Today?
If someone were to ask me this question in all seriousness, I would answer that I speak English, and that’s it. No French, no Italian. I would love to have learned these two languages in the same way that I learned English, but it just wasn’t the same. I didn’t see many movies in French or Italian, I never listened to their music, and I never surrounded myself with these two languages. Even today, I am surrounded by English, and not by any other foreign language.
How Many Foreign Languages Do You Know?
The Best Way to Learn a Foreign Language
I think that the best thing you can do in order to learn a foreign language is to surround yourself with the language you want to learn. Listen to it all day long, watch movies, learn about the country and the native people, and study their culture… Do everything you can to let the language enter your mind on a subconscious level, and you will be able to learn the language more easily and much more quickly. However, this is only my experience and my opinion, and this is not something that is guaranteed to help you; although it did wonders for me. Anyway, good luck, and I hope you will decide to learn another language!