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Advice on Learning a New Language

Updated on August 19, 2016
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How to learn new vocabulary

Constructive Ways to Learn a Language


CONSISTENT PRACTICE

It is very important to study a language consistently. This is the "secret" when learning a language, since it stays fresh in your mind. The best way is by simply doing and indulge in the aspects of listening, reading and writing.

Expert advice (You can also do more if you'd like): Start of in the morning with a 30 Minutes session where you study some vocabulary and simple sentences. This is almost like a "gym" session. Finish your evening off with another 30 minutes before you go to sleep. This also includes learning vocabulary, reading, practicing pronunciation, etc. It has been recorded that when you learn anything new before you go to sleep, it will be in your memory the next day. Then, in the morning, recall what you have learned the previous evening.

LEARN IN SENTENCES

It is an undeniable truth that one should learn a language by making sentences. This means that you will then learn the words that 'fit' or 'travel' together, instead of learning vocabulary primarily on its own. For example: Make sentences with these words: bread; bake; shop; street, etc.,

  • I need to call my daughter, who is playing in the street, to drive with me to the shop.
  • I am baking bread on the stove.

Now, you have also learned how to use these new vocabulary in a sentence. This helps you to understand new words in the context of a specific situation. Your brain memorise words better when it is used in a specific environment. It does not necessarily plot a whole meaning around a word. The word will only start to get meaning when it is fattened with a situation that it belongs in.

USE COLOUR AS A MEANS OF MEMORISING

Any language in the world is a structural system that consists of complexity with many different aspects to it. Why use colour to help you learn? The answer: There are many different colour in the world and many different parts of a language that makes up the language, so, in order to make learning a language easier, you need to stay away from only using black and white and use colour so that your brain recognises patterns and words much easier.

EXAMPLES:

  • To learn articles (often in European languages with a lot of articles) you can use the colour green for one article and the colour pink for another article. You will then immediately know when a colour card is pink, the specific word has that article. In German: "Die Hose" (The pants) will go on a pink colour card, since it is a feminine article (die) and "Der Hund" (The dog) will go on a blue colour card, since it is a masculine article.
  • Paste colour cards all around your living space (if a fridge is called a "Kühlshrank" in German, you can paste it on the fridge so that you can see it consistently).
  • Use different colour cards for different tenses in a language. For instance: Simple past, present and future; Continues present and future tense; and so forth).

PLAY WEB-GAMES

The internet is such a benefit to anyone around the world. There are big part of our lives, we should make use of it. There are tons of online games that you can play, that are fun to play and develop your language skills.

Games to play:

a) Duolingo

b) FluentU

c) Babbel

d) Mindsnacks

e) Bravolol

MAKE SENTENCES AS YOU GO


As the author of this article, I can confirm this piece of advice, because of first hand experience in figuring effective ways to remember words. Everywhere you go, it is advisable to make a sentence in your mind with the first object you see.

If I see a bridge and I know the word already, I can try and construct a sentence around it.

For example:

ENGLISH - I walk over the bridge.

GERMAN - Ich gehe über die Brücke.

FRENCH - Je marche sur le pont .

SPANISH - Yo camino por el Puente.

You will not soon forget that sentence, since you have actually made the sentence in real-life experience, while you did the action. This assures that vocabulary and sentences and the language itself stays fresh in you mind.

MAKE FRIENDS ONLINE/CLOSE BY

Making friends is like making friends with a walking dictionary. If your friend, that speaks the language you want to learn, understands that you need help, he can fix your mistakes and also motivate you to speak the language. This will encourage you to use the language often.

VISIT RESTAURANTS

Search for a local restaurant that primarily speaks the language that you want to learn. Often people that understand your passion, will let you join their table and will induce conversation with you to help you improve. This may be stressful at first, but after a while you will feel comfortable enough to speak in front of anyone (despite your mistakes).

READING IS SOURCEFUL

Reading is probably the best way to learn new vocabulary. Don't read books that are too difficult for the level you are at. Ask a native/teacher the level of book you should learn for your current situation

Books will show you a lot of things. Especially the grammatical aspects of a language. In order to make this fun, you should choose a book that is in your interest. If you like sports, read up on sports in that language. If you like music, read up on music in that language etc.

The excellent thing about stories: While you read, you are indulged in the story and that enables you to understand words better, because you can see first hand how, when and why words are used.

HAVE FUN AND WATCH MOVIES/ LISTEN TO THE RADIO

Movies are a visual and audio way of learning. This is a great way to develop your listening skills. You can also make it easier by adding subtitles of your mother tongue. This will help you to relate and understand what it being said.

Radio - Even if you do not understand 80 percent of what is being said, it is still good to listen. This will let your brain get use to the sound of that language. The more you hear and listen, the easier it is to also pronounce the words in a language. Eventually your brain will recognise and understand the pattern of the language.

FIND A CONSULTANT


There are consultants almost anywhere in the world that 24 hours to teach online. This is a great way to learn a language. This will definitely cost some money, but in the end this is a good option.

Consultants are friendly and are always helpful, since they get paid on how well they teach and not how much they teach. They indulge in conversation with you and will teach you new vocabulary with a set-out lesson plan. An example of an online tutoring company is tutorabc.com that teaches English as a foreign language. They teach English to Chinese and Taiwanese students of any age.

WRITE POETRY

Poetry is known as the smallest version of creative texts. Make your own artwork in the specific language. This will also motivate and encourage your own ability and to express what you have learned.

Start to write children's poetry. This does not mean that it's necessarily easier, but it is definitely not as complex. Try to express how you feel in certain situations and write it down.

EXPLORE THE CULTURE

Enrich yourself by doing the things the culture of that language will do: Making their food, visiting local shops, have a theme-party that are based on their cultural activities. You can also do research on the history and traditions of the language, country and culture around it.

START A LOCAL LANGUAGE-GROUP

Get a few passionate individuals that are studying/learning the same language as you and come together on a weekly basis. For example: Germans have something they calls a “Stammtisch.” This is an activity where they come together exactly at the same time and place each week, and play card games, enjoy some company and drinking beer. If anyone dares taking their spot, a fight normally breaks out.

SAVE MONEY AND TRAVEL TO THE COUNTRY

This could be hard to pull off, but you will not regret taking this step. Once there was a South-African woman that taught English in Thailand for four months. After four months she went back to her country and spoke the language fluently (Probably not as good as a native speaker)

This is, without a doubt, the best way to learn a language, since you are forced to speak the language to "survive."



Motivation

Motivation to Learn a Foreign Language


BE the language, FEEL the language, SPEAK the language

MOTIVATION IS KEY!

  • Make a list of 10 (or even more) reasons why you want to learn a specific language. Will it make you CV look richer? Do you want to do it for business opportunities in the future? Do you want to travel? Or visit several countries? Alex Rawlings, a bilingual that speaks almost 14 languages, says that when you feel discouraged, return to the list of reasons why you wanted to learn the language in the first place.
  • Set realistic goals - Try not to discourage yourself by setting goals that you cannot reach. it does take some quality and quantity time to master a language. Your goals should look more or less like these: "I want to have a conversation with a native speaker for at least 10 minutes"; "I want to be able to make opinions about something in that language"; I want to be able to guide a foreign individual when he/she comes to my country."
  • Anyone can learn to learn a new language. The idea that only “talented” people that can learn new languages is incorrect. The difference between a person who is successful in and a person who fails is dedication and practice. Once you are dedicated, motivated and inspired to learn a language, you will achieve your goals.
  • Speak from day 1. Don’t feel discouraged when you make a mistake, like forgetting a word, speaking in the wrong tense etc. Just go over it again and eventually your brain will recognize the word and pattern and “fetch” the right word/ sentence.


Language Learning Quotes

“...it always felt good to have that moment of resolve, like saying, "I'm gonna learn French!" It doesn't matter if you do it or not, deciding is the high, right?”

― Felicia Day

“Facing a language you don't know is like returning to your infancy when your mother tongue used to be a foreign language to you”

― Munia Khan

“It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly.”

― Basil Gildersleeve

Language Learning Quotes (2)

“Language is best taught when it is being used to transmit messages, not when it is explicitly taught for conscious learning.”

― Stephen D. Krashen

“She decided that day to study Russian, the language of violence, terror, and absurdity. She knew she would never be bored.”

― Natalie Standiford

“The central hypothesis of the theory is that language acquisition occurs in only one way: by understanding messages.”

― Stephen D. Krashen

Contribute Advice

CONTRIBUTING!

Each of us learn in different ways and grasps concepts differently. So, if you have any other good advice that you want to share with aspiring bilinguals, then please feel free to leave some in the comment section below.


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