Everything feels very unpredictable right now.
With a controversial election looming on the horizon, a pandemic ravaging the country, and an economic depression in full swing, it may be tempting in the next few weeks to pack up shop and hit the road. While learning a new language is no easy task, there are tried-and-true methods that can teach you enough to survive no matter where you are, but like learning any new skill, it takes good time management and unwavering dedication. If you are someone who possesses both those traits, here are a few tips to help you effectively learn a new language. Always remember that the best thing to do is remain constantly immersed in the language of your choosing, so say bon voyage to English as of this moment, and try out these other tips to help you pick up some new lingo.
Establish New Daily Habits
If you're someone who considers yourself "bad at languages," that is a narrative you need to ditch if you want to effectively pick up some new lingo. The number one reason people don't learn a new language is that they don't incorporate their lessons into their daily routine. Focus on the tried-and-true learning cycle of "cue, routine, reward." Set daily reminders on your phone to keep you on track for the day, but keep each day simple.
Maybe revise 5 errors from your previous lesson plan, and in turn, hone in on the few new phrases you nailed at the jump. While repeating day-old lesson plans sounds like a waste of time, it reaffirms these rules in your head, so in a few weeks, these tips will become second nature.
Then, when your lesson is done for the day, be sure to reward yourself for your hard work, and switch up the rewards every day. The looming rewards will keep you incentivized. Remember: this doesn't necessarily need to be a time consuming endeavor. 15 minutes a day will actually teach you more than you think. All that's left is for you to stop making excuses, and prioritize your language building.
Learn The Words The Correct Way
Of course, your time will be for nothing if you don't set up an effective lesson plan. Focus on the cognates, the words that sound or look exactly the same as the words you know. For example, gratitud in Spanish means "gratitude" in English. French, Italian, and Spanish have hundreds of words that sound or look similar to their English counterparts.
Additionally, make sure you focus on the most commonly used words. To achieve conversational fluency in the language of your choice, you need to learn around 2000 to 3000 words, which may sound like a lot, but the more common they are in the culture, the faster you'll learn them. Flashcards will help reaffirm these words for you, as well as go-to phrases you'll need to survive like "where is the bathroom," and "can you help me? I'm hungry." Make sure you're focusing on words and phrases that are relevant to you and your life as well.
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But if you're strapped for cash, there remain plenty of free resources to help reaffirm your lessons. There are a number of great podcasts that you can immerse yourself in on your daily commute, but in terms of format, TV and films in the language of your choosing are actually preferable, since these mediums provide images and scenes that help you better understand the language. Even if your level is very basic, experiencing international cinema will help you further immerse yourself in the culture.
Speak, Speak, Speak
It may seem obvious, but you should be speaking in your new language, or at least attempting to do so, all the time. Narrate what you're doing as you do menial tasks around the house, or find another native speaker to converse with. There are a lot of free or affordable online chat rooms and group classes that can help keep you afloat, but 1-on-1 lessons are the most effective learning strategy. Lessons like this may cost more, but the rewards will be undoubtedly greater. But if you're a rookie, save your money and don't quite invest in lessons until you can carry on a conversation.
Keep Your Lessons Fun
Apps like Duolingo provide fun games and exercises to keep your education entertaining and interactive, and there are plenty of games online to make sure your lessons don't grow stale, not to mention the wide array of boardgames available if you consider yourself more of a hands on learner.
When learning a new language, it can be hard to stay motivated. Which is why you need to make sure you keep the process fun, cause if you want to learn a language fast you're gonna have to practice every single day. Keep focused on the topics that you enjoy and that you're interested in, and you'll be a versatile world traveler before you know it.