How to learn a new language
By: Izzy, redwigwam
While you’re looking for a job, one of the key methods of keeping yourself sane is to take up a hobby or activity that you stick to on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Learning a new language not only opens your mind, but it also looks awesome on your CV – why not teach yourself how to speak Italian while you’d otherwise be sitting around doing nothing?
Technology has brought some new and effective ways to learn languages, some of which don’t even require you to think too much, so what are we waiting for?
Audiobooks & Podcasts
If you search around, this could end up being the cheapest hobby you’ve ever started. Get yourself an audio language lesson and spend thirty minutes a day absorbing what you hear. If you drive, listen to this while you go through the motions, you’ll be amazed at what you pick up subconsciously!
If you’re not taking any exams, listening and engaging in the language is by far the best way of learning. Understanding how to write correctly will not help you when it comes it a proper conversation using your chosen language.
Apps can help with phrases, pronunciation, word placement and even live translation, but with something capable of doing it all for you, you’re in danger of relying on the app to do the language learning for you. Make sure your apps become a language assistant and nothing more, the moment you begin to rely on it is the minute you realise you’re not learning anything.
Just get on with it
A stumbling point for many people attempting to learn a new language is procrastination. Rather than think ‘but I’ve got to learn so much before I can speak fluently’, understand how easy it is to learn a few phrases every day, it won’t be long until you can hold a reasonable conversation with your progressing language.
If you find yourself delaying your learning, start creating ‘to do’ lists or place a reminder on your phone; force yourself into doing it and it’ll get done!
Watch foreign language programmes
Immersing yourself within the language will have you picking up on interesting phrases and develop your new language to be used in actual conversation. Don’t give in and put on subtitles, reading what people are saying in English won’t help anything, your brain simply can’t process that much information in one go.
Take note of the body language and facial expressions of each character on screen. If the characters are playing football, there’s a good chance you’ll learn how football is discussed. Watching a television programme in your prospective language also gives you a greater understanding of word placement, you’ll quickly spot the frequent alternatives to ‘we’ ‘they’ ‘she/he’ etc.
Have fun with it!
Finally, we all absorb information better if we are genuinely enjoying the learning process. Don’t treat learning your chosen language as a job, treat it as something you can talk to your friends about, perhaps you could even get them involved?
There’s no rush to learning your new language, it could take 8 years before you regard yourself as fluent, but it’ll be worth it in the end, especially if you end up visiting the country where the language is spoken.
You’ll make mistakes, but make sure you laugh about them rather than beat yourself up about it – one day, you’ll be able to call yourself bilingual!