I think at some point in our lives you sit down and say one of two things; “I’m glad I speak another language” or “I wish I spoke another language”. I think everyone goes through it either as a child, through adulthood, or maybe when you get older. Some people are able to master two, three, or more languages in their lifetime. Others can only master one.
I want to talk to those of you that are at the stage where you might want to learn a language. Weather your a still in grade school or a retired adult, you all have the same questions. What are the best ways to learn another language? Should you take lessons? Or is it better to be independent? “Should you invest in expensive programs? Or stick to the free stuff? Now, there seems there are so many options available for learning another language. And each option seems to be a guaranteed hit.
But spending a lot of money won’t guarantee that you’ll quickly learn another language. Before you even start you’ll need to know somethings about yourself in order to be successful.
Know Your Goals
If you’ve been keeping up with my blog posts, you know that I’m a big fan of making goals. Everything you do in life needs a goal and learning a language is no different. Do you want to know enough to understand movies and music? Do you want to travel and have casual conversations with people? Maybe you want to be business level and work for a high level company?
Your goal will determine how far you want to go in your studies. While each level does require a high degree of studying, you don’t have to waste your time studying unnecessary things. If you only want to be as fluent as the average person, there’s no need to learn business level vocabulary.
Determine How You Learn
There are all types of options for learning a language out there. But not every option will be the best for you. I personally think classes are the best way to go. Especially in the beginning stages of learning a language. They can be time consuming and expensive but if you’re serious about learning it’ll be worth it in the end. Classes provide you measurable goals that you can study towards. And having a native speaking teacher is an invaluable resource in language learning,
It is possible to study independently, I don’t recommend this until you’re at least an intermediate level of fluency. If you’re studying independently, still be sure to invest in good textbooks. Free sources are helpful, but having a standardized source to refer to makes learning easier.
Stick to a Schedule
I get a lot of Japanese people that ask me what’s the best way to learn another language. What trick or secret can I provide them so they can easily pick up English? The answer is, there isn’t. There’s nothing special you can do to learn another language besides studying and practice. It’s hard to hear because no likes to study but it’s the truth.
Once you get older it’s hard to find time for things you want to do. And learning a language always seems to fall by the waste-side when people get busy. But you don’t have to study for hours on end. Even 20 minutes a day is better than nothing. If you’re serious about picking up a language dedicate sometime in your schedule to study.
Try to think in the target Language
A lot of people assume that languages are directly translatable to each other. Dog=Perro, Konnichiwa=Hello, and while it’s okay to use direct translations in the beginning as you get further into your studies you’ll quickly realize you can’t rely on direct translations. A lot of things just don’t translate into other languages.
It’s a difficult thing to do but the sooner you stop relying on translations the more adept you will be at picking up your target language. At the beginning stages try to focus on using picture images when learning vocabulary and phrases. Once you get to an intermediate level you should be able to explain things on your own in your target language. Learning a language is about learning to think how a native speaker would.
There’s no secret to learning a language. There’s no magic class or cool app you can download that will make learning any easier. The only thing you can do is immerse yourself in the culture as much as you can. Make it a part of your psyche. And before you know it you’ll speaking as well as the natives do.
Let’s discuss: What languages are you trying to learn? Are there any tips and tricks you can share to make learning easier?