The reasons for learning a new language are manifold. For many, you might be required to do so as a mandatory school subject or perhaps as an elective. For others, you might decide to pick up a language as a new hobby or skill.
Regardless, learning a new language can be extremely rewarding (although difficult at first!) We are here to offer our top tips so you can effectively take on your new dialect.
Why learn a new language?
Language learning can be incredibly stimulating for the brain. Studies show that learning a new language helps to improve general concentration, memory and thinking skills through increasing the volume and density of grey matter, the volume of white matter, and brain connectivity.
Being bilingual or multilingual is an incredibly beneficial asset - as workplaces (and the broader world) become increasingly connected and integrated, speaking more than one language will likely expand your opportunities in the future.
Meet new people
Learning a new language can help you interact with new people and further develop your communication skills… plus travelling becomes a whole lot more exciting when you can communicate with locals in their native tongue!
Expand your cultural knowledge
For many, learning a foreign language is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture and develop an understanding of the diversity that is at play in a modern, multicultural world.
With that in mind, we have some effective tips to help you reap the benefits of learning a new language…
Firstly, it is important to note that everyone is different - certain learning styles might work for you but not for others and that’s okay! However, these tips have proven useful for many language students and should hopefully help make the learning process a little easier for you:
Specific goal setting
Start by setting a range of short, medium and long term goals to structure and direct your learning.
Your long term goal might be to have a fluent conversation in your new language but that’s not going to happen overnight – there are many short term goals you’ll have to set before you get there… learning numbers, colours, common phrases, key verbs etc. Eventually you’ll be able to string all those things together but think of each short term goal as a building block.
Tick off your progress. This will help you to stay motivated, especially when the language can be difficult to get a hold on at first.
Develop a routine
Create a routine (this is very important!) You’ll quickly find that languages are not subjects that you can cram so work on practising every night (or every few nights when you are a little busier).
Train your brain to become accustomed to seeing the language by practising a little bit consistently, not a lot all at once. A helpful technique is to laminate a vocab list and stick it up in the shower. 10 minutes a day of revision!
Focus on root words and their variants. For example: learn, learning, learnt etc.
Also look at common phrases such as greetings, introductions, questions and farewells. This will help you put together a basic conversation which can be a very gratifying start.
Grammar, tense, syntax, structure, pronunciation (etc etc) will come later… Be patient!
Figure out what works for you
Your teachers and tutors will likely introduce you to a range of techniques and learning styles - it might be overwhelming at first but make sure to experiment with as many as you can and figure out what works best for you. Maybe it is using flashcards, translations, colour coding and oral repetition or creating a list of words that you struggle to remember.
Our amazing tutors at KIS are here to help with this process… you can start by booking a free 30 minute study skills consultation.
You’ll find that it is often effective to combine a few different techniques - especially if your ultimate goal is to write, speak and translate.
Look for similarities in your native language
It's not cheating if you take advantage of the words that you’re familiar with. European languages, in particular, bear a strong resemblance to the English language, all stemming from Latin at some stage.
So use similar English words as a launching pad!
Practice practice practice
Writing is a good start to develop your new vocab and grammar but speaking has been proven the most effective way to retain and properly communicate in your new language.
Start by repeating your new vocab aloud, work on pronunciation and then progress to conversing with others who are learning the language. Eventually, your goal should be focused on having conversations with those who are fluent. While practising with a native speaker might push you outside of your comfort zone, it will introduce you to natural pace, pronunciation, conversational styles.
Consume some content
Many students agree that listening to podcasts, movies and TV shows in your new language is an easy but super effective way to familiarise yourself with the dialect. It’s a great tool to pick up some more colloquial and conversational uses of the language such as such common words, phrases, expressions and references.
Implement the language in your everyday life
As you get more comfortable, try and see the language as much as possible in your daily life.
Many people change the language on their computer, phone or messaging apps to further familiarise themselves and actually implement their new skill.
Combining these tips should give you a pretty good shot at becoming the bilingual baddie that you've always wanted to be!
So…. Tout le meilleur! (All the best!) AND Amuse-toi! (Have fun!)