If you want to learn a language, what can you do?
There are several actions you can take. It doesn´t mean you simply sit in a class or depend on a teacher because you´re not a vessel to be filled with a teacher´s knowledge. Passive learning doesn´t work. This might seem obvious but I´ve met a lot of people who don´t get this.
What are some ways to learn a language?
1. Look for websites you like. For beginners, trywww.speakenglish.co.uk With google as your ally, find the balance of enjoyment and challenge and bookmark the best sites for you. Use textbooks, magazines and so on. Assess material: Is it at your level? Will you find it interesting?
2. Build vocabulary lists. The simple act of writing out a word begins the process of committing it to memory. A great site for translations is www.wordreference.com. (This is way superior to google translate) Keep vocabulary lists together and organized in a notebook. Take a note of words in context. You might copy out whole sentences. Review the words regularly. You could even decorate the notebooks so you enjoy them visually!
3. Do you like playing games? There are plenty online. For French, Spanish and more languages, try www.languagesonline.org.uk Games are fantastic for reinforcement, fun and practice and many sites include language explanations.
4. Listen regularly to the language through music, films, and videos. Choose quality material that you´re interested in. For example watch an interview about someone you admire. I started learning Spanish thanks to a teenage crush on Alejandro Sanz, which made me learn his songs by memory!
5. Find a teacher. One to one sessions are more personalized and effective than learning in a large group. When you´re practicing a lot out of class, your sessions can be well spent on specific questions you initiate. Check the teacher takes into account your level, how you learn and that he or she will give you challenges as well as support your enthusiasm. There is an element of being a coach in being a teacher because by knowing your goals, you teacher helps to direct the classes towards exciting points in your personal and professional life. And never forget you are the one learning a valuable skill. Your attitude is more important in the learning process than what the teacher says or does. The teacher is your guide and mentor. You are the key. Actually it´s empowering and exciting when you realize the control you have over what you learn and over your success!
6. Practice. Does it motivate you to have contact with people who speak the language? Talk to them frequently. Or talk to a family member or to your dog in another language! This will help you form sentences and try to have conversations (ok monologues if you´re talking to your dog). You might even talk to yourself at home. Don´t overdo this unless you want to frighten your family. You could always think through sentences and/or practice them in a notebook rather than say them aloud.
7. Have realistic expectations. Learning a language DOES take time. I don´t believe in the “zero to fluency in three months” promises of some courses. It´s essential to be realistic. Even a child (in a full-immersion programme called life) doesn´t speak his or her native tongue until about a year old, and for fluency it takes a few more years.
8. Repeat, repeat, repeat. It´s surprising the number of people who believe they hear or learn something once and then they imagine they will never need to look at it again. Don´t believe it! That´s sci-fi Meanwhile on Planet Earth, constant repetition is proven across all areas of education to be the key. So if you sometimes wonder why you forget what you learned, it´s because you didn´t reinforce it enough through repetition. It may be that you need to repeat a word or phrase five times on five different days to remember it, or ten…! And that´s nothing to be ashamed about. Tip: memory studies show that if you review information within twenty-four hours after the first time you come across it, statistically it is much more likely you will remember it later.
Now with eight ways to do it, if you want to learn a language, you can start now. Simple as that.
“Action is the foundational key of all success.” Pablo Picasso
I´d love to hear what YOU think about the best proactive ways to learn a language. What is your experience in learning another language?