- Education and Science
Learning to speak a second language
Different ways to become Bilingual and learn to speak, write and read a second language
It is very common in many countries for people to speak 2 languages or more, especially in Europe. With business becoming more global and with the use of internet and air travel, it makes a lot of sense for a person to learn an extra language or two. My native language is English but I am also bilingual in Spanish. I would love to learn more languages but for now these are the only languages I am fluent in. There are many ways to learn a second or third language. There are people that swear by programs like Rosetta Stone or Pimsleur but others need the structure of a classroom. Some believe that total immersion is the real way to do this by getting a grasp on the language and then living where that language is only spoken. There are no right answers because people learn at different paces and different stimuli. I am one that learns better by classroom activity and immersion. Not everyone can afford or have the time to live in another country for a few months so that may not be a viable option for you but is probably the most effective way to learn a language assuming you have some basic knowledge of the language. I took 3 years of Spanish in high school, 2 semesters in college and have spent several months in spanish speaking countries where I ended up meeting my wife so I also have a native speaker to improve my spanish. Learning another language/s opens up more opportunities in life and ways to communicate with others throughout the world.
Totally Bilingual or just a good grasp on the language
It is hard to get bilingual where you can hold fluid conversations and think in the language of choice. Classes and computer programs can only do so much and takes time and a lot of effort using these methods to become bilingual. Once you have a good grasp on a language, the best way in my opinion, is to talk with a native speaker as much as possible. I can read and write Spanish well but I am still not 100 percent fluent when in comes to the conversational aspect of it. There are always slang/expressions and a few words that I do not know. So it is a never ending learning process and in the future would like to learn Portugese.
Many people would just like a grasp on the language and be able to hold simple conversations or just get their point across. When I used to travel a lot, on the airplanes you would always see several individuals with phrasebooks, electronic translators and dictionaries of the country's language they are going to visit. Cramming at the last minute so to speak. If you like to travel a lot to a specific country or just want a grasp on a language, I recommend taking a class/es at the community college in the language you want to learn or using a Rosetta Stone/Pimsleur product in the entry levels. I am a budget minded person so if I was going to France in a few months and not going to be a recurring thing, I would get a couple textbooks used in a high school setting and pocket sized dictionary. I would learn words that I were important to me, simple verb forms and useful phrases. Then I would try to find a native speaker locally I could practice on. I do highly recommend an electronic translator that does VERB CONJUGATIONS. This way you can translate and say complete sentences. A lot of the cheap translators only have simple phrases and single words. If you are going to be cheap on a translator, just use a dictionary. Most translators that conjugate verbs, have a large word database, etc start at about 50 dollars so not a huge investment.
This translator is on my wish list.
What language? Start early. Concluding thoughts
Only you can decide what language you want to learn. Usually it is the language that interests you or has an impact in your career or frequent travel plans. If you are going into anime it makes sense to learn Japanese. If you like to vacation in Mexico or the Dominican Republic a couple of times a year it would be beneficial to learn spanish. The choice is yours alone and there is no harm in trying to learn more than a few foreign languages. It opens up more opportunities for you.
If you are in school or a parent of a school age child, let them take foreign language classes as early as possible. When I was in school, foreign language wasn't offered until high school and wasn't a requirement. Many schools are offering Spanish, French and other languages in middle school and a certain amount is even required at some schools. Your mind is still developing at younger ages and so is the best time to pick up and learn another language at an advanced rate. Becoming a foreign exchange student or hosting one are other great options. Don't worry, we can all still learn at any age and hope I have given some helpful information and links to products that may suit your learning style.
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What is the best way to learn a foreign language?
Pimsleur products on Amazon - I do not currently own any of these products but am familiar with Pimsleur and I feel they are better than Rosetta Stone.
I highly suggest learning Latin American Spanish unless you are travelling to Spain since the majority of countries do not use the vosotros form and have their own way of using Spanish.
Rosetta Stone Products on Amazon - For those who like Rosetta Stone over Pimsleur
They have various sets and the 1-2 set are for those who want to learn basic Spanish and simple conversations.