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How to learn a foreign language fast

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Language Acquisition Stages

Want to learn a new language fast? Maybe you need to learn a language so you can speak it on an upcoming trip. Or so you can watch your favorite Netflix show without subtitles. Whatever you reason for learning a new language, we can probably agree it’d be ideal to learn it as quickly as possible.

 

Learning a new language is a not easy, but it’s a very rewarding goal to have. The process can be so overwhelming that you may not even know where to begin. But mastering another language can create a lot of new opportunities, such as being able to communicate with more people and learn about other cultures.  

 

Continue reading to find out how you can tackle such a large project from the start and quickly reach your goals.

 

1. Set goals                                                                                                                                                                                        

When learning a new language, it’s important to know why you want to speak it. By setting goals, you will know what you want to achieve and how you will measure your progress. When faced with the idea of learning a new language, most of us feel overwhelmed, as there are so many new words to learn and so many different ways to study. Setting goals narrows your focus so you can stop worrying about the details and get started. Goals work best when they make you push yourself, but you should break down your end goal in smaller short-term goals to make it less daunting. If your ultimate goal is to be able to speak Chinese comfortably so that you can move to China, you can break this down by setting deadlines and identifying specific things you plan on learning. Focus on themes or outcomes you want to achieve, rather than identifying a certain amount of new words. For example, set a goal of learning vocabulary and phrases related to types of clothing or modes of transportation rather than a goal to “learn 30 new words”. Your short-term goal could be that by the end of the week, you will have learned the phrases and basic vocabulary needed to talk to shop in China.

For goals to be effective you need to review them regularly and set new goals every few weeks. The most important thing is that you believe in your goals and can visualize yourself achieving them. With this in mind, you will find that they help you stay motivated and enthusiastic!

 

2. Make language learning a daily habit

To achieve fluency in one language, you need to develop daily habits. Habits are key to behavior change because once you form them, you don’t need to rely on willpower or motivation. A habit is usually made up of three components; a cue, a routine and a reward. The cue sets the behavior in action, for example setting daily reminders on your online calendar. The routine is the actual behavior that you perform in response to the cue, things like opening your language app, or revising 5 words from you last lesson. Easy tasks like this will make it almost impossible to fail, and you will probably end up wanting to do more than your initial task. Lastly, reward yourself in some way, as the positive reinforcement will increase your chances of success. You only need 15 minutes a day to make progress, and surely you have that!

 

3. Immerse yourself with free resources

It has never been easier to learn a language without actually travelling to a country where it is spoken. This is because there are a lot of free reading and listening resources that you can access online. You can use YouTube, podcasts, language apps and many more resources to immerse yourself in the language every day. If you like watching movies or series, you can try watching a show in the language you are trying to learn with subtitles. The images, combined with the clear speech and subtitles, will help you follow along and pick up new words – even if your level is basic. If you are already a bit more advanced, you can listen to the radio or podcasts. This can be done whilst commuting or doing other unavoidable but time-consuming things! You’ll be surprised how much you speed up your language acquisition by using these small chunks of time wisely!

 

4. Speak from day one

If there is a “secret” or “hack” to learning a new language, it’s this: hours and hours of awkward and strenuous conversation with people better than you in that language. To improve your reading and listening skills, all you need is access to the internet. Speaking, on the other hand is still best practiced with another human being. The free option is to find native speakers to converse with. Sites like Meetup.com often have language exchange meetings you can attend. Finding a language partner to study and talk with will make learning a new language more fun. Next to that, you’ll push each other to go for it and soon get past the awkward stage.

 

5. Language classes                                                                                                                                                                              

Learning a new language with an app like Duolingo is the easy and money saving option, but if you’re willing and able to invest in becoming fluent in another language, it’s better to take language classes. Group classes can be nice from a social perspective, but if your goal is to practice speaking, they are not ideal as you will have to take it in turns with other learners. Also, classes often move as slowly as the slowest student. The most efficient option is to take private lessons, as this way you’ll be able to get extensive speaking practice with an experienced native tutor.

 

6. Love mistakes and laugh at yourself

If you’re learning a new language, you will probably make a lot of mistakes. There will be times where you will be making a fool out of yourself. Research highlights  the importance of feedback in mastering skills. Every mistake you make is a chance to learn something, so don’t be afraid to make those mistakes. Remember that you’re a student and nobody is judging you. Just speak loudly and confidently and get over the fear of messing up so you can gain some momentum with your conversation. There are moments in which it’s particularly good to laugh at yourself: on really bad days. We are not machines; we are not computers. Even if you make hundreds of embarrassing mistakes in one day, don’t get frustrated. Smile!

 

7. Traveling

If there’s one thing you should do to learn a language faster, it’s traveling to the country in question. Immersing yourself by talking to the native speakers. Soak in the culture of your chose language. Eat its food, read about the country, and seek out news articles relating to current events happening there. You’ll learn more Chinese by spending three weeks in China than you would with three months of classes in your home country. You learn languages the best when you are forced to breathe, speak and live the language.  This kind of immersion is the best thing you can do to become fluent.

Starting a new language and learning how to actually say stuff is very exciting. There are no shortcuts to learning a new language, but there are a few things you can do to make your studying more effective. Know that you’re getting closer to your goal each day! Help your brain understand that learning a new language is not something you do because you have to, but because it’s fun. Finding something you enjoy doing and associating this action with the language you want to learn will make the process more fun!

 

What better way to immerse yourself in the language than doing an internship the country in question?  

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