Speaking foreign languages is a crucial skill in today’s globalized world.
Do you marvel at people who fluently speak Mandarin or Swahili or even English as their second language?
At the same time, are you convinced that YOU will never be that kind of person?
The good news is: You’re wrong. Anyone can do it! You just need to do it right!
In this post, you will learn 16 simple yet effective language learning strategies that are guaranteed to help you and will make the learning process enjoyable.
Does Learning a Language Have to Be Hard?
Many of us struggle to master a language because of the laborious process that it is innately.
There are many nuances to a language and to get better at it, it requires a lot of effort, time, dedication, and most importantly, persistence.
We can be very tempted to give it all up and get frustrated because getting the hang of the language and seeing yourself improve is the challenging part of the learning process.
Another concern is about how “dry” or, in other words, how boring it can be to learn a foreign language. Unfortunately, a traditional understanding that learning a language consists of reading translation books and grammar rule books day and night exists in people’s mind, and it’s tough to scrub it off.
The fact is that, learning a language is indeed fun and in order to create such an environment for yourself, you need to be patient, don’t be too hard on yourself and do not make a big deal out of this.
It’s certainly possible to get better at a language, no matter how old you are, or how fast or slow your learning pace is!
Follow the below language learning strategies to learn the smart way!
1. Set Realistic Language-Learning Goals
Whatever the aim maybe in your life, the foremost step is to set a target.
Use the general ‘Divide and Rule.’ Create daily and weekly goals and try to achieve them as efficiently as possible.
Learn how to overcome your daily obstructions instead of focusing on the long-term effects or benefits or failures.
Initially, we all feel overwhelmed when tons of information is bombarded on our minds. We, the newbies, begin to freak out and quit the class from that day onwards.
But, is it how much determined you are for your life and goals?
Accept the fact that everyone is struggling to learn, and you are not going to be the one who would quit first.
Make sure that you set realistic goals that are achievable. Get it cross-checked by your goal schedule with other classmates or the tutor to perfect it.
Research shows that setting the right kind of goals makes you achieve success far too easily.
Keep in the mind the following pointers:
- Set short-term goals
- Follow them with determination
- Make it fun and challenging
- Focus on useful outcomes
- Visualize your goals
2. Study Smartly
The often-quoted phrase isn’t untrue that ‘study smarter, not harder.’
Yes, few people have to struggle a lot and work hard to attain their desired goals, but it is not always the case when technology has made it all the easier for you to learn almost anything.
Start learning using an online language-learning app or try electronic flashcards to learn new things in a fun way.
Don’t just learn the words in written form; work on their pronunciations as well. Practice each and every day without a break.
Learn the common phrases, new vocabulary, and expressions to communicate in simple ways.
Yes, getting into the complications of grammatical structures or endlessness of vocabulary bank is a fool’s job. Get over it!
3. Listen Carefully
Have you ever observed infants? They listen to their surroundings before speaking their first word. They learn by imitating others.
In fact, it is essential to listen in the first place whenever you are about to learn a new language. Listening to a new language regularly provides you the opportunity of imitating the language’s sounds as well as the melody.
However, you do not need to understand the words at first at all. Just listen to music and watch videos in your targeted language. It is an effective way of recognizing words as well as various sounds.
Or else, you can also watch cartoons or documentaries in the foreign language or the ones having subtitles as per your preference. Additionally, you can also listen to the same audio or watch the same movie multiple times just to have better familiarization.
More importantly, it is vital to listen with full attention to get guaranteed results.
Holding a conversation with someone in another language fluently can be difficult to begin with. This comes with practice over time, and what’s important is to not feel shy or embarrassed about being unable to converse well in the initial stages.
Remember that an expert was once a beginner, and it takes lots of time and many shameless attempts to get better at something.
As you speak to someone, observe the way they construct sentences, the way they punctuate and express, and attempt to mimic that initially.
Soon enough, as you become more familiar with the language and as you gain confidence, you will find your groove and style of speaking.
The key is to practice, to never feel embarrassed or fear failure.
When you have developed your skills up to a level where you can read a novel or articles comfortably, you should start cultivating this as a habit.
Reading is one of the best ways to learn a language after listening and practicing conversing.
As you read, it is important to look out for the way sentences are structured, the kind of words that are being used, and the way stories are being told or the way history is being told in a gripping manner.
Soon enough, you will become a bookworm (and there’s nothing wrong with that!). You will continue to seek more books, you will have a continuous thirst for knowledge and to quench that thirst, you will read more and more.
This loop of reading and wanting to read some more will help you to grow your language skills tremendously.
Though one thing that has to be kept in mind is all this takes time, and it does not happen overnight. One needs the patience, persistence, and diligence to cultivate this habit, then follow it tenaciously with the goal of learning the language.
If you fear to jump into reading novels, you can start off by reading simple news articles written by journalists on CNN, BBC, RT.
Keep in mind to read alternative sources instead of just reading one particular source because it can be biased and one-sided opinion laden. When reading a piece of article, never look at anything superficially and always cross-refer to other sources.
As you progress further, you can read more complex articles like that of, The Economist, as the language is handled at a very professional level and worldly issues are very well criticized by talented journalists.
6. Read Aloud
More and more reading of the new content increases your level of comfort with the new language.
But it is not going to give you full benefit if you read silently when learning a foreign language. So try to read it out loud.
To make new sounds, learn them through imitating others, as it is a good way of improving pronunciation.
Reading anything in a new language aloud gives you the confidence to speak in a new language and get comfortable with it. Loud reading anything not just develops reading skills but enhances your abilities regarding comprehension as well.
This is why teachers from across the globe have been using reading aloud as an efficient developmental tool.
It is not necessary to just stick to the textbooks for improving the reading expression. Instead, get a comic book in the targeted language to read something interesting and out of the box.
You can try reading online blogs, journals, or newspapers. You can read a variety of articles of your preferred niche to elevate your reading skills.
On the whole, all such ways can make learning even more interesting and result-yielding.
7. Search for New Words
You can enhance your vocabulary by looking up for new words online or in the language’s dictionary you have. It is crucial to enhance your vocabulary if you want to get a grip on the new language.
What’s more, is that having a rich vocabulary allows you to express your thoughts and ideas in a better way. Intimately, it has a connection with both effective reading as well as writing skills. Above all, it puts a good impression of you on others.
Some learners may feel difficulty in memorizing new words in a short period. But you do not need to rush the language learning process, just keep the learning process slow and steady for having a reliable learning experience. Or else you will end up forgetting the new words in a few days.
8. Practice Writing Unfamiliar Words and Sentences
So basic yet useful, practicing writing is also a key to get through learning a new language.
You may come across many new and unfamiliar words when learning a new language. One effective way to gain command over novel vocabulary words is by pinning them down.
Writing also improves the grammar of learners in a fruitful manner. When you write, you are actually painting your voice; therefore, it can improve your fluency in a second language. You can rapidly find the meaning of a new word while writing in a new language.
It helps you in creating new sentences and then finding as well as correcting your mistakes. Making corrections in your piece of writings makes you more careful, so you won’t repeat the same mistakes twice.
You can also ask your mate to find errors in your writing to improve it more and more.
All things considered, you can acclimatize to a second language better thanks to writing.
9. Write own stories
For a start, you can write a daily journal in your diary. Write about simple things, like what you had done in that day, what you were feeling throughout the day or you can write about things that make you feel happy or about things that make you feel sad. Express your inner thoughts and feelings in the form of words and keep this as a habit.
You can then proceed to even write short stories! If you have the habit of writing prose or poetry in your mother tongue and if you think you are a creative linguistic individual, you should not hesitate to write stories in the language you learn.
Reading great authors’ (e.g. Anita Desai and George Orwell) books will make you realize that great writing does not come from rich and ornate prose, but rather it comes from the succinct story-telling, the fine details and the incredible choice of words.
So, grab a pen and write what you want without hesitation. Read through what you have written and create a new draft each time, and every draft should be better than the one preceding it. Be your own critic and you should certainly seek help from others as well.
10. Get Through the Rules of Grammar
To serve this purpose, at first, you need to find and read an easy rule of grammar. It should be easily understandable to avoid confusions, in particular at the beginning of learning a new language.
Subsequent to understanding a rule, search for relevant examples of the respective rule. You can also make own examples to get through the rules of grammar of a new language.
This is a piece of advice that not many people will give, but it certainly makes a difference.
If you happen to travel to a country where people speak the respective language, you will place yourself in situations where you have to use the language every day: From asking for directions to speaking to locals and introducing yourself to new people.
Compelling yourself or creating a situation for yourself whereby you have to speak in the language will help you to develop your language skills to a great extent.
The experience will be unforgettable and what you learn on that trip will be deeply embedded in you and hence you will never forget what you have learned.
12. Make the Most Out of the Latest Technology
In the present times, mastering any language has become extremely easy due to the availability of myriads of online apps. Globally, some of the well-known language learning apps are HelloTalk, Busuu, Babble, Leaf, Duolingo, Memrise, and Mindsnacks.
You can easily get the translation of phrases like “good morning” in Spanish via online translators. You can even get an in-depth explanation of a term with respect to your target language.
A single app can provide you with the opportunity to learn more than one language. Not only the language learning apps provide effective translation but they also offer a user-friendly method of learning to make the process captivating for you.
Some language learning apps teach you by offering different games making the learning experience quite fun for you. They also take your tests to ensure effective learning and maximum learning outcomes.
So it is safe to say that the online available tools for language learning have simplified the entire process of learning to a great extent.
Apart from the language learning apps, you can take the advantage of social media as well. You can find new friends who can fluently speak in your targeted language.
Just send them a friend request and start chatting. Interact with them on a regular basis and learn their native language. It will improve both your verbal and non-verbal skills.
This is how you can make the most out of the latest technology for learning a new language in the best possible manner. Good Luck!
13. Watch News Channels, Documentaries, and Movies
This may seem like such an odd piece of advice, but this is the number one thing that you should do to learn English.
Let’s just clarify what we mean by this; it’s not about lounging back, chewing on popcorn and watching a movie or a documentary leisurely.
This is part of your learning process, whereby you have to watch the movie or documentary attentively, by paying attention to the way people conversate or the way information is being constructively expressed.
You will certainly learn how to speak eloquently by watching the news channel if you choose to observe the way the news readers pronounce words.
Beyond listening, you have to try pronouncing complicated vocabulary words for yourself and try giving a small speech or so.
Watching documentaries and movies will be of great entertainment, an excellent platform to gain knowledge as well as to increase the vocabulary bank in your brain and help you develop your critical thinking skills.
14. Be Confident
It is unfortunate that many people who don’t speak a language as their first language feel embarrassed that they are unable to hold a conversation with native speakers.
Instead of looking at it as something that they can potentially learn and get better at, it’s being looked at as an embarrassment to begin with. Think of it this way: a Swahili-speaking man doesn’t feel embarrassed to mispronounce a word in your mother tongue, and neither are other judgmental towards him.
Having a restricted mindset and the fear of getting things wrong will never help you in any way. Be confident enough to make mistakes and learn. (Easier said than done, I know!)
15. Be Tenacious
It’s a laborious process, and it can be extremely exhausting. You need to keep yourself motivated throughout the journey and never give up.
This quality of determination and persistence is essential to keep you going. Never quit from what you have set out for because you will make it; it is only a matter of time!
16. Enjoy the Ride
If you enjoy what you do and if your heart is in it, you will achieve success and there is no doubt about it. You have to be genuine with your efforts, and you have to enjoy the journey. You only live once, so never take anything to be a burden or a make-or-break challenge.
Love what you do and your path to success will be paved.
The Benefits of Being a Polyglot
Have you heard about New York’s boy who is well-versed in over 20 global languages at an age of only 17 years?
Tim Doner is from the US, who started learning various languages one after another since at the age of 8. It is totally inspiring. Do you know how beneficial it is for your cognitive growth?
Becoming a polyglot at any age makes you smarter, more creative, and more social. It enhances your understanding and makes you find oneness in the versatility of the world. It is one great tool to equip yourself with.
The perk of being a polyglot raises your chances of being employed by high-paying companies.
So, if you want to be smarter, or you are just moving to a new place, you need to learn a new language.
The Bottom Line
You are well-equipped, and you have all the resources and language learning strategies you need around you. You need to utilize the resources you have, and the moment you choose to help yourself, others will be willing to help you.
There is no one way to get better at something; it’s always a culmination of many tactics and strategies.
Most importantly, keep in mind that patience is necessary because mastering a language takes time.