Moving abroad is such an incredibly enriching experience, yet it can certainly arouse many fears and doubts for thinking about how you will communicate effectively.
It’s much different from visiting a new country for a few days where you can learn a few common phrases and survive if you don’t speak the local language.
And we certainly cannot assume that anybody speaks in our native language. But what about your new language?
So what’s the key to learning a new language?
I get asked this question often by my ESL students and what I’ve discovered is that there’s no one-size-fits-all method, but there are some key points that I’ve discovered as a language lover, learner and teacher that I’d like to share with you. Here they are:
Tip #1: Be consistent
I think this goes for just about anything you want to learn how to do, but it especially applies to learning a new language. There’s a big difference between going to class once a week versus committing to daily learning. Even if you can devote 10-15 minutes a day, it’s enough to have consistent contact with the language you’re trying to learn.
I highly recommend deciding on a game plan that is achievable. For example, if you cannot spend 15 minutes a day because your days are already jam-packed, then commit to 15-30 minutes for 3 days a week. Setting realistic goals for yourself will also keep you much more motivated because you will feel a sense of accomplishment once you can reach your goals.
Tip #2: Make it fun for yourself!
Finding ways to enjoy learning a new language makes it that much more achievable. We all have busy lives, so why not make it fun to learn something new? And there are tons of ways you can do this.
If you love listening to music, find some local artists and listen while going for a run. If you really enjoy watching Netflix, find a TV series and watch an episode once or twice a week.
Enjoy listening to podcasts? Find one with a familiar topic and jot down a few new words you hear. Do what you enjoy most and learn at the same time.
There are tons of free apps, such as Duolingo or FluentU, that even make language learning into a game with rewards and milestones. Give it a try!
Before I made the big move to Spain, I made friends with some native Spanish speakers and began chatting with them in WhatsApp.
Little did I know how much I could learn by simply texting my new friends where I was learning common phrases almost daily and using free translation web services to carry a conversation. And the best part was that I had a great time chatting with them in Spanish.
Tip #3: Discover what works best for you.
Every person has their own way of learning, so do your best to be compassionate with yourself and choose a learning method that makes sense to you. If you are somebody who prefers more guided textbook learning, then buy a textbook with an answer key and work on exercises at home.
If you prefer more group learning and socializing, then find a local language exchange where you can practice with native speakers or other learners who are also motivated. This will keep your morale high as you meet other learners who are in the same boat as you. Make tons of mistakes and don’t worry about it because just by putting yourself out there and trying, you are already achieving something.
A student of mine recently sent me an amazing TED talk about language learning and I’d like to share it with you to give you some more inspiration. This talk left me feeling so encouraged that I immediately made a commitment to go back to my French studies, and am feeling more determined than ever to become a French speaker.
What are some of your favorite ways to learn a new language? Comment below to share your favorite learning tips with the TCI community!
by: Marjorie Jean Vera