How to Learn a New Language
According to a popular thought, children are better than adults at acquiring a new language. However, it doesn’t mean that if you are an adult, you are a lost cause. To prove you that adults have good chances of learning a language, we have interviewed TED translators and asked them for some secrets of mastering a language.
So, here are translators’ language learning tips:
- Be realistic in your goals
The best way to learn a language is to start with simple, realistic goals. Do not get overexcited with learning. Have enough time for resting and practicing different activities. According to Judith Matz, you may start by writing down a list of 50 words and start applying them in practice, for example, to people. After that, you may switch over to studying grammar.
- Be open to changes
When you start learning a foreign language, be ready to accept the upcoming changes that you will face. You will probably need to change your lifestyle and adjust your time management as well. Learning a language means that you will develop a new habit, which should be as natural as brushing your teeth.
- Start learning the names of all the objects that surround you in a foreign language
One of the best language learning tips is to buy some stickers and label each object that you have in your house, room, etc. Such a surrounding will ease the process of learning new words and phrases. You won’t have to spend extra time on cramming.
- Change the language of computer or smartphone interface to the foreign language you are studying
Technology will surely help you out! Change the language settings in the browser or software you use, and you will surely enrich your vocabulary.
- Treat a foreign language as a gateway to new impressions and experiences
Try watching films with the original track or read books in the language you are studying. Besides, you may travel to the foreign country, where the language you are learning is spoken, and visit some museums, exhibitions, galleries or even a theater. In such a way, you will be exposed to the foreign culture and have a chance to communicate with the native speakers. According to some TED translators, this is definitely the best way to learn a language.
- Make new friends and communicate with them in the new language
Browse some discussion posts, social networks, etc. where you can find friends and communicate with them in the foreign language.
- Do not let mistakes let you down
Making mistakes in the process of mastering a new language is inevitable. However, do not be afraid to speak and practice. You won’t be laughed at – on the contrary, you will learn from your own mistakes and your interlocutors will be there for you to help you out.
How to learn a new language: 6 easy steps to follow
- Know why you do it
It will not be a great discovery for you to hear that motivation is the pillar of any new activity you take on. So before asking someone how to learn a new language, ask yourself why you want to do this. On the surface, you may find it cool to be able to speak French or Spanish, but learning a new language obviously requires a much more fundamental motivation. For example, you may have some friends in France with whom you would like to speak in their language, or you dream of watching original French movies. Focus on your key reason, write it down, and have it in front of your eyes when working on your home assignment.
- Focus on active vocabulary
Every language has millions of words and phrases, and a countless number of their combinations. However, for the general comprehension and ability to express oneself, knowing a basic vocabulary is enough, so it is crucial to focus on the right words for learning. Undoubtedly, the best way to learn a new language is by selecting an active vocabulary that one can learn and use in spoken and written communication.
- Be ready to fail
It is impossible to learn another language without making many, many mistakes. Such experience always lies far outside of anyone’s comfort zone and is accompanied with embarrassment. However, you should keep in mind that mistakes are a good sign: they show that you are engaged in a new activity, you are doing something unusual, and you are brave enough to step into the unknown. If you know how to make mistakes, you will know how to learn a new language for sure.
- Practice on a daily basis
Of all the steps to learning a language, this one is the most important, because memorizing the words is only half of the work: you also need to be able to use them. If you do not pronounce, translate, and write down the lexical units regularly, they will become your passive vocabulary, which is a meaningless luggage that you carry and cannot use. Thus, do everything you can to practice the language as often as possible.
The quickest way to learn a language is to speak it as much as you can. Use every chance to form a sentence, say a few words, talk to a native speaker, and so on. Any interaction where you will need to actively use the new language will help.
One of the effective practices you can apply is comprehending a language through listening. Find some TV or radio channels that broadcast news and shows in the studied language and play them while managing your house chores. At first, the quick fluent speech with a lot of new words may sound confusing, but give yourself some time to adjust to the audio materials. Once you get used to the native speakers’ pronunciation and intonation, you will start distinguishing some familiar words and phrases, and eventually you will understand the content in general.
- Study the culture
Any language derives from its country and nation, with certain traditions, customs, mentality, and history. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the language you are learning, make a little research about the cultural background of the nation that speaks it. Besides facilitating a better learning, it can also be educating and mind opening for you. In addition, you can borrow some traditions and introduce them in your customs. For instance, certain ways of celebrating holidays or national dishes can become a valuable addition to your family traditions.
With all the information available today, finding out about any nation’s traditions will not be a problem. Find some articles, online posts, videos, and spend some time on trying to understand the culture of another country. Along with other language learning tips, this advice can make your studying process more enjoyable and interesting.
- Enjoy the process!
All the tips for learning a new language imply hard work and total focus, often forgetting the essential element of the studying process, the joy. The basic condition for successful learning is being able to have fun in the process and really enjoy it. Otherwise, the dull assignments and boring lessons can become a burden for you quickly.
When you are dealing with a new sort of activity, your brain is not used to processing tons of new information, so it will try to resist and go back to normal functioning. In order to stimulate it to learn a new language, you need to encourage yourself with the elements of fun. Play, do something you like that is related to the language, choose the topics of your interests, communicate with people, and you will notice that the process is becoming much more prolific.
Hope that these language learning tips will become really useful. Good luck with learning a foreign language!