How many words in your favorite language do you know? Would you like to learn more? Do you want to communicate in a foreign language fluently?
Despite what you may believe, you do not need to spend hours in a classroom learning the alphabet if you want to improve your language skills. If you’re interested in learning another language, whether it’s French, Spanish or Japanese, or Telugu there are more fun ways to do it. It’s often recommended that if you wish to learn Spanish more effectively on your own, you should find fun and engaging ways to learn it that are both immersive and enjoyable.
Here are 7 tips for learning a new language, from using fun interactive applications to watching foreign TV.
7 Tips to Learn a New Language
- Get real. Choose an initial goal that is attainable and simple so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Judith Matz, a German translator, suggests: “Pick up 50 words and use them on people — and begin to learn grammar this way.”
- Make language-learning a lifestyle change. Consistency is one thing that separates the best students in English education from the rest, according to Elisabeth Buffard, who has been teaching English for 27 years. Make a language habit you can continue even when you are tired and sick or madly in love. Reading foreign newspapers, for example. It can be done consistently and can help you improve dramatically. If you’re learning French, for example, and if you’re looking for a news feed that double-checks the news, check out LeNouveauJournal.fr. You’ll learn to master French and consume accurate information at the same time!
- Playhouse with the language. As you use a foreign language more in your daily life, your brain will consider it useful and worthwhile as well. As Olga Dmitrochenkova, a Russian translator, says, “Don’t miss the opportunity to learn it.” Buy books for kids written in this language, watch subtitled international talks at TED, and tell a stranger about part of your day during the virtual meeting
- Let technology help you out. It’s a great idea for Dmitrochenkova: “Resetting the language on your phone can be a funny and quick way to learn new words immediately. For this, you can also take a look at language learning apps. If you want to learn Telugu, there are various Telugu Chat apps available you can consider for your learning. Online learning programs may be more suitable for you. Els De Keyser, an expert in Dutch translations, recommends Duolinguo for its gamified approach to grammar as well as Anki to help you learn vocabulary, including “intelligent” flashcards.
- Language learning opens the door to new experiences. As a Spanish translator, Sebastián Betti has always gained fresh eyes through learning languages, from attending air shows to watching cowboy poetry and attending folk festivals. In essence, he takes fun things he wants to do anyway and makes them a language-learning experience. A number of translators shared this advice. Italian and French translator Anna Minoli learned English by watching her favorite movies without subtitles, while Croatian translator Ivan Stamenkovi did not realize that he spoke English well in high school until after watching Cartoon Network full screen. When next you need a carrot cake recipe, look for one that includes ingredients in your target language.
- Make new friends. Communication is essential when learning a new language. By taking part in a conversation in the new language, you will be able to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before it is said. You can look for native speakers near you, or arrange a language tandem with a partner or online by setting up an account.
- Do not worry about making mistakes. Many people fear making a mistake when conversing in a new language. But native speakers are like adoring parents: anything you do is interpreted by them as objective evidence that you are a gifted genius. You’ll be appreciated for your effort and even help you. Nervous about conversing with someone in your peer group? Try practicing on someone younger. The German translator Judith Matz recalls being stoked when she realized that she shared the same level of Italian with an Italian toddler. Also, be patient. As you speak more, you’ll get closer to the elusive goal of “native-like fluency.” And to conversing with people your age.