Get ready to revisit those language classes you took in high school, only this time, I promise you they will stick.
In a world filled with as many diverse languages as ours, one can very easily get mesmerized by the different tongues spoken around them. However, sometimes language can act as a barrier, standing in the way of a dream trip or job in a foreign country or slowing down a promising new relationship. And what can be more frustrating is that no matter what learning techniques you try or lessons you attend, at times, your learning curve seems to resemble a downhill slope, filled with more downs than ups.
You wonder how polyglots, multilingual individuals, do it as you lift your arms and perfect your aim. But before you throw that textbook you’re attempting to study from across the room, allow me to let me in on a little secret; it doesn’t have to be that way. After listening to polyglot Lýdia Machová’s Ted Talk, I discovered that you don’t need to possess a unique talent or ‘language gene’ to quickly achieve fluency in a new language. So, whether you’re trying to become multilingual to make your resume more impressive or simply want to be able to speak a country’s native language while visiting, let’s dive into how you can easily succeed in mastering a new language.
The first and perhaps the most crucial step to learning a new language is to recognize why you want to learn it and set achievable goals. For instance, if you need to learn a new language because you’re moving to a new country, then maybe instead of planning to dedicate two hours a day to hitting language textbooks or language teaching apps, over a week, aim to learn 30 new vocabulary words that can be used in a supermarket or perfect 15 everyday phrases that’ll allow you to introduce yourself. Accordingly, during the following week, you could aim to learn 30 other vocabulary words that’ll help you ask for directions.
Creating these goals will not only help you hold yourself accountable, but as you slowly tick off every accomplished target, you’ll be able to witness your growth. This will motivate you to stick out those harder, more frustrating days. Just remember to make sure your goals are simple and can easily be measured.
Find What Works for You
While this next step requires you to reexamine all those failed attempts at learning any new language, trust me, this is where the fun begins. Ask yourself why they were unsuccessful. Was it because you found textbooks boring? Or did you find the idea of talking to strangers when you only knew a few phrases nerve-racking? Understand that no one learning technique will work for everyone. Instead, try to find what truly makes you excited to take time out of your day to practice a new language. The key here is to make language learning enjoyable.
For instance, if you love being a couch potato, and rewatching all your favorite sitcoms after a long day, try to incorporate language learning into that activity by switching your episode language to the one you’re trying to master. Soon enough, you might find yourself laughing at a joke, picking up phrases and words here and there. If you’re more into cooking, why not try following a recipe in the language you’re learning? Finding ways to make language learning fun for you might be all you need to finally become fluent in that language you’ve studied for years in school but never mastered.
Look for Other Language Learners
Whether you start following a polyglot’s YouTube channel where they share how they became fluent in so many languages, or you make friends in a language class, connecting with other language learners can have great benefits. For starters, they can introduce you to new learning techniques you never thought of before, pushing you out of your comfort zone as you try them out. Moreover, practicing with friends, whether they are native speakers or fellow learners, will not only help you gain more confidence, but their feedback will also significantly improve your skills. Plus, the great thing about having language lovers as friends is that you can each take turns teaching one another your own native languages, making your list of spoken languages grow longer.
Any language learner will tell you there are no shortcuts when it comes to mastering a new language. The process will not only take time but it can also be quite frustrating, especially on those days when you just can’t seem to get things right, whether that be struggling with grammar or pronunciation. You will make lots of mistakes and then some more, and there will surely be moments where you embarrass yourself.
However, without doing so, you’ll never be able to move past that beginner stage in any language. So, the best advice I can give you, and perhaps the most important step to remember when deciding to learn a new language is that you must have patience with yourself and the learning process. You too could become a polyglot if you remain consistent in your learning, trust the process and find ways to enjoy it.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to my daily, okay maybe almost daily, French lessons. Au revoir!
Photo: Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock
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