Learning a foreign language is no easy feat, but it’s a very rewarding goal to have. Language-learning itself comes with a range of benefits, and in the end, you’ll be able to converse with people from a totally different culture. Plus, the positive effects of being able to speak the native tongue when traveling are endless.
There are no shortcuts to learning a new language, but there are a few things you can do to make your studying more effective. Follow these 10 tips and you’ll be well on your way to learning a foreign language. It takes lots of hard work, but it’s definitely worth it!
10 Studying Intensely, Rather Than For Long Periods Of Time
Not all study was created equal. As it turns out, certain methods of study are more effective when you want to learn languages. According to the multilingual Mark Manson, studying intensely will help you learn a foreign language faster than studying less intensely over a longer period of time.
For example, you’d learn more in an intensive two-week course where you study for six hours a day than you would over the course of 10 weeks where you study for one hour a day. That’s because language is the type of subject that requires a lot of repetition and consistency.
9 Consider Private Tutoring
Private tutoring isn’t for everyone because it can be quite expensive. But if you’re willing and able to invest in becoming fluent in another language, it’s better to go for private tutoring over group classes. Whenever you make mistakes, the tutor will be able to stop you and correct you immediately.
In a group situation, however, you receive less personal help from the teacher. You also might be slowed down by students who aren’t up to your level. When hiring a private tutor, it’s best to look for someone who’s a native speaker.
8 Watching Your Favorite Movies In That Language
This is a great way to learn a language faster. When you study a new language, there are four components to focus on: reading, writing, speaking and listening. Watching movies or TV shows dubbed in that language will drastically improve your ability to listen and comprehend. If you need to, you can add subtitles in the beginning until you’re used to it.
It might also be an idea to add subtitles in that language while watching the movie or TV show in English. This won’t help with your listening skills, but it will help you to expand your vocabulary. It will also help you to pick up slang words that you won't find in the textbooks!
7 Downloading Language Apps
Language apps are your friend. You’ll need them when you start learning a foreign language and also when you travel to the destination where you’ll speak it. There are certain apps out there that claim to make you fluent in just a few minutes a day. Without ever practicing in conversation, it would be very hard to become fluent that way. But still, these apps are great for helping you to learn the basics.
Back in the day, it would have been necessary to travel with a pocket dictionary to help you with your vocab. Now, you can travel with apps that will translate phrases for you and provide a reference to certain words.
6 Reading Books In That Language
Reading is an important part of language-learning that many people overlook. It might not seem important to be able to read in another language if your aim is to be able to carry a conversation in a foreign country. But reading will help you to understand the way the language works and will expand your vocab. Plus, you’ll probably have to read a little when you’re over there on signs and menus.
Try reading books in the language you’re learning. Not 100,000-word novels, but things that are easy to read. Children’s books are helpful because the vocab is very basic.
5 Talking To Native Speakers
If there’s one thing you should do to learn a language faster, it’s talking to native speakers. This is the best form of practice you can have. It may be uncomfortable and it definitely counts as throwing yourself in the deep end. But that’s how you learn!
You can have a look around for ads posted by native speakers who teach their language in your area. It might be an idea to negotiate a price and tell them that you don’t want a lesson; just a conversation. Or if you’re lucky and you already know a few native speakers, reach out and see if they want to meet up to talk!
4 Joining Language Speaking Groups
The next best thing after talking to native speakers is talking to other people who are learning the same language that you are. Really, any opportunity to practice speaking that language without reverting back to English is going to help you. Students won’t provide the quick, intense conversation that native speakers would, but it can still be helpful to talk to them.
Do a little research and you should find language-speaking groups in your area. Using platforms like Meetup.com, a lot of language students organize group events where they can get together and work on their skills.
3 Practicing The Language Every day
There’s no shortcut to learning a foreign language. If you want to become proficient enough to carry a conversation, then you’re going to have to practice every day. While studying involves taking notes and memorizing new concepts, practicing means just speaking the language as much as you can.
It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to chat with a language group or a private tutor every day. If worse comes to worst you can speak out loud to yourself. Name things out loud in that language when you see them. You might feel a little silly, but language is all about repetition and processing new words into your brain.
2 Not Being Afraid To Make Mistakes
If you’re going to learn a foreign language, you have to accept that you’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes, you’re going to make a fool of yourself while practicing. There’s no way to get around it. If you’re too afraid to make those mistakes, you’ll never actually get to the stage of holding a conversation.
Remember that you’re a student and nobody’s judging you. Every mistake you make is a chance to learn something. Just speak loudly and confidently and get over the fear of messing up so you can gain some momentum with your conversation.
1 Traveling To The Country
The best thing you could possibly do when trying to learn a new language is traveling to the country in question. You might put off traveling until you are proficient in that language, but immersing yourself in it is how you get proficient. You’ll learn more Spanish by spending three weeks in Spain than you would with a whole year of classes in the United States.
You learn languages the best when you’re forced to use them, and in a foreign country, you’ll be forced to use them. This kind of immersion is the best thing you can do to become fluent.