How to learn a language (and why you should)
Why learn a language?
Language learning is great for your brain, it helps build creative thinking and problem solving skills. For anyone who is keen on travelling too it can be awesome to try and communicate with locals in their language. Why try to mime and point when you could order lunch or ask for directions in French, Italian, Chinese or Arabic? If there’s a a country you dream to visit, you’ve got a multilingual friend and want to chat to them in their language, or you have family who speak another language and want to make your Nonna proud, learning a language is an awesome and rewarding activity. Doesn’t hurt your CV either!
Top tips for language learning success
Find a language buddy, someone who you can practice with preferably a native speaker who can help you learn phrases, build your confidence and assist with pronunciation. If you have a heritage language practise with your family, your elderly relatives would be so happy to speak with you in their language.
Enrol in a class- a teacher or tutor will help you stay motivated and accountable as well as give you chances to practise with other learners. See if you can take a language elective as part of your degree, they’re lots of fun!
Read books or watch movies/TV and listen to radio or podcasts of the language you’re trying to learn. This will help you learn vocab and phrases. Make yourself a vocab notebook and translate and note words you don’t recognise so that you can learn them.
Immerse yourself in the language and culture. Think about travelling to a country that speaks the language you’re learning. Immersion is the best and fastest way to learn conversational language, but make sure you’re keeping grammar in mind! If travel isn’t on the cards, even visiting a restaurant and trying to read some of the menu in the language or conversing with wait staff (if they’re not too busy) can be a fun way to sneak in a bit of practice.
Familiarise yourself with grammar tenses in your own language to help understand the grammar points in the language you’re learning. That said, the grammar of verbs in French compared to Japanese are very different so don’t expect to master all grammar immediately. Knowing your auxiliary verbs, the difference between past simple and past perfect, and your transitive from intransitive verbs can make learning other languages easier.
Consistency is key! Apps like Duolingo can be a fun way of learning and will send you lots of reminders to keep learning. Patience is important too, because language learning isn’t easy but it’s so rewarding to travel and communicate in different languages or to just chat to a friend in their native language.