Tuesday, January 28, 2014

5 Tips For Learning A New Language

Yesterday, I posted about moving to another country. However, it all becomes much more difficult if you don't speak their language! You don't necessarily have to be moving abroad, though, to want to learn another language:  Maybe you are traveling somewhere and would like to make yourself understood? Or perhaps you have an important meeting with some clients from another country. Or maybe you just want to increase your C.V. appeal!

"I better learn how to say 'I need to go potty' in French before this plane lands.
Scratch that. 'I want candy' is more important. Priorities!"

Aside from the obvious (lessons and a dictionary!) here are five extra tips if you want to become more proficient in any language:

1. Don't be self-conscious. 
If you are always afraid of making a mistake or sounding silly, you will take much longer to learn any language. Face it: you will probably make more than a few mistakes at the beginning, but getting out of your language comfort zone is the most efficient way to learn. People know you are not a native, so they don't expect you to speak like one.

2. Become best friends with a native.
This is a very important one: hanging out on a regular basis with someone who speaks the language will significantly improve your skills. Communication is a major part of any relationship, so without even realizing it you will be making an effort to speak better. Not to mention that you would be having fun in the process, too!

3. Buy a magazine. Then buy a book.
A magazine in another language is great, not only because it will increase your vocabulary, but also because you will become familiar with the more common and widely used lingo. When you feel ready, buy a book. You will likely need to go to a dictionary every fifty seconds, but in the end it will be greatly reflected in your skills, and you will be immensely proud of yourself. Other activities that really help are writing a letter, watching a movie, and going to restaurants where you'll have to read the menus and order food.

4. Post-its.
Post-its everywhere! Write important words on post-its and then put them where they belong i.e. write the word for "door" and then paste it on the door so you see it everyday. Eventually they become habit and you will learn the words by heart. Silly as it may seem, it is an awesome vocabulary booster!

5. Make a phone call.
Once you have a basic level of skill, speaking on the phone will push you to the next level. Not only is the sound less clear over the phone, but you also won't be seeing the other person's body language and expressions to help you decipher their context. This is by far the hardest thing to do when learning another language, but if you keep practicing it, it is also the fastest way to reach your desired level of skill.

Yesterday's and today's post came to me because my little (or not so little, he's 21!) brother is going on exchange to China next month. I have been on exchange twice and thought I would share some of my tips and experiences with him (not that I think I'm an expert or anything, but it is always useful to hear someone else's perspective). And then it occurred to me that you guys might find it useful too, so I hope you did!

P.s. If you enjoyed them, you can subscribe here, and follow me on Facebook here! :)

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  1. I love French it's a beautiful language :)


  2. Great tips! It's so important to not feel self conscious, I lost track of all the embarrassing things I said while I was on exchange but refusing to let that bother me made my Spanish get a lot better a lot faster. I still slip up trying to communicate with my husband's family from Guatemala, their Spanish is a lot different from what I learned in Medellin. I think I'll try the post its to improve my French vocabulary :)
    P.S. funny fact: in Guatemala mazamorra is athlete's foot!

    1. Hi Joanna!
      How funny! I actually am from Medellin! would love to know what you think of it now... and yes, Guatemala does speak super different Spanish to us haha ;) thanks for stopping by!


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