Learning foreign languages is associated with many advantages such as cognitive benefits, opening potential/future career paths and opportunities to travel. The ability to speak more than one language also plays a crucial role in our everyday task. It improves one’s decision making, multitasking, performance in academic areas etc. The world is becoming more and more globalized and hence demand for multilinguals is on the increase. Learning languages has been made easier with tones of resources online and offline but still many fail or quickly quit. A Guardian Survey indicates that a big fraction of foreign language students are unable to speak, write or understand the language they are studying. This is attributed to many factors such as lack of motivation, procrastination, and bad attitude among others.
Mastering a language may take extended periods of time but attaining fluency levels in the language may not. It might take as quick as less than a year to learn a particular language and speak it fluently. Most people would be satisfied and feel competent in a language once they are able to converse normally with a native at a normal conversation speed. This is known as Conversational Fluency. Being able to achieve conversational fluency is not a difficult task if one embarks on effective ways of learning. This article will not only discuss some tips to help you move faster in your language learning journey, but also guide you to success.
1. Set up your goals and objectives
Setting up clearly defined goals and objectives in your learning journey will serve as a motivation to your success. Identify why you want to learn that language and what you can do with it once you are fluent. Plan what you have to accomplish. It is hard to achieve success when you haven’t defined what that success is. An example of a goal would be to learn members of a family in the language you are studying after a session. Accomplishing your goals is enough reward to keep you motivated. This will push you to learn more and you will quickly notice you are progressing fast enough as expected. You will also be able to track your progress, what you have learnt and what you need to. Languages are complex with vast vocabulary, grammar points and cultural competencies. Goals will ensure you remain focused on what’s important to learn first. It might be frustrating if you have no clue on how you approach learning the language which usually is the cause of poor results and eventually failure.
2. Listen First
Listening is the recommended first step to learning a language. This is the best source of input as it promotes non-linear processing of languages and forms the basis of speaking skills. Listening is better than reading texts especially in the beginning stages of learning. We spend a lot of time listening during communicating. Studies show that listening takes up to 45% of communication, speaking at 30% whereas reading and writing occupies 15% and 10% respectively. The sounds and pronunciations of a foreign language will be very strange at first but as you continue listening with time, it will become more familiar and easier to produce the sounds and words by yourself. Sounds are produced from specific parts of the mouth and throat and hence, we can literally pronounce anything, it’s just we are not used to some sounds. Through listening one can visualize or imagine how sounds or even words are supposed to be pronounced.
3. Immerse yourself into the language and incorporate learning in your daily routine
You have to develop a habit of engaging yourself in daily learning activities of the language. Most people would say they do not have enough time while it can only take as less time as consistent fifteen minutes a day to achieve fluency just under a year. Habits don’t require motivation or willpower. Once an activity is developed into a habit, it would take less effort to do it than struggling to ensure it is not missed. Set up reminders and schedule your language learning sessions, practice or other learning activities in your calendar. Make it a habit and before you know, it is already ingrained in your daily routine. Again it has never been easier to learn languages with the current technological advancement. You can listen to podcasts or revise on vocabulary while travelling. Long are the days where you can only learn a language effectively by travelling to its country
4. Learn the most important and relevant things first as you move to higher levels.
As mentioned earlier, languages are complex with rich vocabulary and many grammar points. One has to know what is relevant to his reasons for learning the language to learn effectively. This is to avoid confusion on the direction you will be taking in your language learning journey. To attain complete native fluency in a language, you have to know about 50,000 words. This is very high compared to a requirement of only about 3,000 words to be able to converse properly. Learn words associated to your contexts, profession or hobbies. The spoken language is made up of commonly used words in every day rile life situations. Always note down new words you come across as writing is proven to have higher retention compared to typing. Try to use the new learnt words in the right way during your practice sessions.
5. Speak and don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Speaking is the best way to practice what you have learnt. Human beings learn from mistakes hence speaking up and making mistakes will make you realize where you are having it wrong and quickly look forward to improve. There is always that myth that children learn better than adults but this has been dissipated by some studies. It is just because children learn without self-consciousness and it is treated as normal when they make mistakes unlike adults. It is highly recommended to find a source of feedback. When pushing yourself to a point of making mistakes, you need to get accurate feedback to correct and improve yourself. This can be a partner or a tutor. It might seem weird but you can also be talking to yourself once in a while for practice.
6. Make use of available resources and make learning fun
You should try making your learning as much interactive as possible. Books are great but sometimes boring and less fun. Learning languages should be enjoyable. When you do what you love you automatically start to become more in tune with yourself. Every human being possesses high levels of creativity and in order to tap into that we must allow our brains to relax and revel in the things that bring us joy. Use language learning blogs and diaries, where you can post in the language you are studying and get feedback. You can also play games to revise your vocabulary and grammar. Go to language exchange websites and look for partners to exchange conversations. Watch films where the images shall give you an indication of what is happening and you will get a few words and their meanings. Watching other people talk will also help you in pronunciation.
Start learning effectively and if you had already started your journey, feel free to correct where you feel you have not been having it right. If you wish to have a tutor, LearnPlant offers one-to-one online private language lessons where you have a dedicated tutor to help and guide you through your journey. Achieve your language goals and get to participate in environmental conservation at no additional costs.