As I am writing this i am sat at my desk, sipping on coffee while reminiscing of when I started to learn languages as a serious hobby. As a modern language tutor and part-time blogger I receive the question, “how can i learn a language quickly?” almost every day. Today I am going to write about how you can learn your target language more efficiently while receiving positive results. This post is relevant to anyone from any background so sit back, join me in drinking coffee and learn of what I have learnt over the past five years of learning foreign languages. Ready? Let’s get started!
After much conversation with fellow members of the language learning world I discovered that language learning shouldn’t revolve around tests or memorising endless phrases. Language is all about communication and connection. One very common method of learning a language is immersion, the idea of moving to a foreign country in order to learn a language. However, immersion can be done at home or on the go. By going abroad, you are exposed to the constant sound of your target language and you have plenty of practice. At home, you have the same opportunities. For example, resources such as radio and podcasts are at your fingertips. Why not make listening to your target language apart of your daily routine? This will help you in the long run when attempting to understand native speakers in everyday situations. The constant and regular practice of listening is a fantastic method and can be conducted anywhere. In my last article, I wrote about Netflix and my favourite series in multiple different languages. Netflix is great source of listening practice and you also have the ability to view the subtitles, helping you gather new vocabulary. In terms of speaking practice, we have so many resources online and in person that we can use. I am a languages tutor on italki, a website that allows learners to meet with tutors in one to one sessions and learn together. There are an incredible number of teachers for a wide variety of languages. If you want to speak often then websites like italki are great. If you are on more of a budget, why not join some online forums and Facebook groups? You can ask for some help in your target language in return for helping someone else learn your native language. This is a great way of making contacts and friends.
During 2014 I stumbled across a fantastic video produced by Easy German. The guest in the episode was a well-known polyglot and inspiration, Alex Rawlings. In this short clip (with English subtitles) you can hear what Alex has to say about language learning and its benefits. This video was a motivation for me to improve my level of German and to proceed in my learning.
There are so many ways to find contact with your target language. While it seems daunting at first (trust me, I know), with regular practice you can progress. Not everyone has an endless supply of finance or the requirements to leave their homeland behind in order to study elsewhere. While you may not have a lot of money one thing you could do to motivate yourself would be to book a short stay in the country where your target language is spoken. This will be cheaper than moving abroad and can be used as a motivation to learn. Learning must be regular and effective, otherwise you will not pick up as much as you would like.
One method I use every day, and i mean every day, is streaming live news from numerous countries. For French practice I love keeping up to date with France24. This means i have an understanding of how other cultures view different issues.
What I personally find intriguing is that as learners we all learn using various methods. The world’s leading polyglots and language learners use various methods that differ from eachother. So what do they all have in common? They simply have a passion for connection, travel and communication. Each sucessful learner finds ways of enjoying their learning process. Do you enjoy cooking? Purchase a cook book in your target language so that you can do something you enjoy. Do you like watching YouTube? Find some YouTubers in your target language? The same goes for any hobby you have, regardless of how often you do it, if you enjoy your learning process you will progress and see results. Some people like to speak from day one, whereas some individuals prefer to have a lot of input before producing output. We are all different. If you ask me, learning is all about trail and error. If something doesn’t work for you, ditch it. However should something show results, continue. I always like to have my phone in my target language so I am forced to see the language each day.
In short, keep your learning as relevant to you as possible. This will help you increase your motivation when being able to talk about yourself quite freely. Also, make your learning a routine by creating time for study. The more a habit becomes a routine, the more you will see regular results and most importantly, make your learning enjoyable. Your learning should be fun, encouraging you to want to learn. You are a human being (as far as I am aware), meaning that we are all different and unique so what may work for me, may not work for you. Like I say, trial and error is the best way of finding out what works for you.