With globalization and social media rising and with borders being only physical, we as a society are connected more than ever. We can contact each other instantly through messaging, and we can find more and more about one another. While this can have bad consequences for catfishing, it can also have positive and beneficial consequences as well. One of the advantages I will talk about today is the exposure to a multitude of languages all around the world.
Most of us, myself included, want to learn more and more foreign languages, especially during those times when we spend more time inside. The problem is this one: How can you learn a foreign language fast and efficiently without losing your mind? Well, like most questions, this one has an answer. There are several tips and tricks I have used myself as a foreign language student in order to learn foreign languages and I will share them with you:
1. Set certain goals
I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before: “I want to be fluent in this language in half a year!”. But the question you should ask yourself is: “What is fluency?”. It is really important to think of what you perceive as fluency. Do you want to know the language very well at a conversational level or do you want to actually work with specialized language?
So, it’s very important to set realistic goals in order to learn and understand everything properly. Don’t think of the result, think of the process. Think of small steps, such as: “Today I will learn how to say hi” or “Today I will learn how to order food in a restaurant”. This is both realistic and efficient, and it will help you in the long run!
2. Think of reasons why you want to learn that foreign language
This one is a key tip because the efficiency of learning a new language depends on of this. For example, many people choose to learn a certain language, because they heard somewhere that if they know this language, they will have a lot of money. If you want to learn a new language solely based on future income or other similar reasons, I have bad news for you.
It’s important to like the culture, the language per se and more! If you have a solid motivation and many sustainable reasons why you want to learn that language, then go for it. If you are in love with the culture and want to learn more, then the journey to the proficiency level will be a pleasant one. If you want to learn a language because it’s “trending”, then you will lose your motivation fast, so be wise about this.
3. Notebooks, notebooks, notebooks…
It is very important to have a variety of notebooks and to carry them with you because this is how you learn new words, rules, you name it! Categorize the words based on the means of use (greetings, food, family members, at home, etc.).
You can even use these notebooks to write down important rules and their exceptions (conjugation, declension, pronunciation, etc.). If you feel organized or if you just want to make your notes look better, you can color-code everything based on importance or category. I’ve always done that during my first year of uni, and it has proven effective so far. Even if you surpass the beginner level, you will always learn new words, and you can add them to your little “dictionary”!
4. Expose yourself to the language as much as possible
When you reach that level where you can understand more than just basic vocabulary, it’s important to step it up. Watch movies in your target language (with subtitles, so you can understand what they’re saying), listen to music, talk to people, write in your target language, read newspapers or magazines, you name it!
This is how you practice every skill you need in order to master a language: listening, writing, speaking, reading, and grammar. Keep in mind that it will not always be easy: you will make mistakes. They are embarrassing at first, I know how it is. Sometimes, you end up saying something completely inappropriate without wanting to and that’s alright: we learn through making mistakes.
I don’t even want to talk about the times when I thought I said something nice, and it ended up being completely the opposite. But this is how I remembered some important things and I know I will never forget those, because of the embarrassing situation I found myself in.
5. Ask questions
It is very important to ask questions when you don’t know something: “How do you pronounce this?” or “What does this mean?”. You should not be afraid or ashamed of not knowing certain things, because everyone was a beginner once in their lifetime. Be open to suggestions, admit when you don’t know something and the process of learning a new language will be smoother.
People won’t judge you: most of the time they are eager to help! They understand what’s like to be a beginner. But if you meet someone who doesn’t want to help you or judges you, don’t lose hope. If one person doesn’t want to help, that doesn’t mean that everyone else is this way!
If you are currently learning a new language, I wish you good luck and I hope everything works out for you! If you want to learn a new language, go for it! Even though it might seem difficult at first, learning a new language can be fun and fulfilling if you do it the right way. Expose yourself to the language as much as possible, talk to people who speak the language, ask questions and remember: practice is the key to success!