Tips for learning a foreign language by Vidyanchal School Pune
Learning another language is one of the most rewarding and enriching processes. It allows one not only to communicate differently, but also to peek into the culture, history and tradition of a whole new community. Furthermore, in this globalised world, knowing multiple languages is a boon like no other and can have favourable effects on one’s personal as well as professional life. However, while enjoyable and essential, foreign languages can be very hard to grasp. It takes hard work and dedication to be able to communicate well in a completely new language. Here are 10 important tips to keep in mind while learning a foreign language:
Set realistic goals
Before starting to learn a language, you could be tempted to set very high goals for yourself amidst the enthusiasm of the first few days. However, this quickly wears off and people realise that learning a language is actually harder than they had expected. If you judge your progress based on unrealistic goals, then it will only lead to disappointment and demotivation. In such cases, many people completely give up too. Hence, setting achievable, specific targets will not only keep the morale high but also allow you to measure your progress well.
Read for pleasure
Many times, when learning a language, people focus only on learning vocabulary and grammar and do not actually get to use the language in other contexts. Furthermore, most of the texts they read in the intended language are technical and may become boring. This focus on only instructive texts can take away the fun of learning a language. It is important to read for pleasure i.e. read books and novels that you actually enjoy. This will not only increase your overall enjoyment but will also expose you to a large amount of vocabulary in different contexts.
Learn grammar and vocabulary in context
One of the hardest things about learning a language is keeping in the grammatical rules and the vast vocabulary. Simply memorising words and rules can take a lot of time and can become repetitive and boring. In order to actually retain as many words and grammatical rules as possible, it is necessary to learn them in context. This means learning words through reading or watching movies or associating words with situations and images. Similarly, in order to learn grammar, it is important to ground them in circumstances in which they can be used. This would ensure that words and rules don’t just slip out of your mind after memorization.
Develop shortcuts and cheat codes
Memorising anything can be tough to do, especially when it is in a completely foreign language. That’s why students of all subjects employ different methods of remembering. For example, creating mnemonics, limericks or funny stories/poems to remember what different objects are called or creating groups of things that are similar. These mental tricks and shortcuts can aid in recall and will ensure that you don’t constantly reach for the dictionary. However, these shortcuts are only supposed to be employed to a certain extent, since over dependence on them can cause issues too.
Revise your native language
Most of us never really think about the vocabulary or grammar of our native tongue since we never learn it formally in school. However, when learning a new language, going back to your own language can be surprisingly helpful. Analysing your native language can help you understand how languages work in general and make you more aware of the small idioms, phrases and peculiarities of each language. Furthermore, keeping your native tongue in mind while learning a new one can help you spot similarities and differences between the two, which can further help in retaining new knowledge.
Travel to where the language is spoken
The best way to pick up a language is by speaking it and listening to it constantly. Thus, if possible, new language learners should always try to visit the places in which their target language is spoken. Being around people speaking it constantly will help you get used to it and furthermore, trying to speak the language yourself will increase your confidence. Speaking to a native speaker can also increase your grasp on phrases and slang words. Furthermore, experiencing the overall culture of the place will definitely aid in your efforts to understand the language.
When learning anything new, consistency is the key and it is no different for learning a new language. The process of learning a new language requires the learner to constantly be in touch with the language. If there is a break in learning, it can lead to you forgetting even what you have already learnt, thus bringing you back to zero. Thus, it is important to make a schedule and stick to it no matter what. Even on busy days, reading a small piece of text or revising some vocabulary is important, even if it is just for ten minutes. This ensures that the language is always on your mind and is not being forgotten.
Learning a language includes many components including comprehension, speaking, and reading. However, an important aspect that often gets neglected is listening. Understanding a language through texts and being able to speak it is far different from actually being able to comprehend it when it is spoken by a native speaker. Listening requires extra focus, quick comprehension as well as an understanding of native accents. Therefore, it is important to use audio tapes or movies to aid in developing listening skills that would be essential when conversing.
Translation and translated works can be a boon for people learning new languages. At the initial stages, a person can engage with books and movies in the target language and then refer to the translated versions to see how much they could grasp or what mistakes they made. Once a certain level of fluency is reached, the learner can try to translate texts into their native language or vice versa. This will open new doors and expose them to even more vocabulary and syntax rules. Translating something to and from a language creates a real familiarity and forces the learner to dig deep, thus ensuring that their knowledge is not simply surface level.
Don’t stop learning
Once a person has achieved a certain level of fluency in the target language, it is easy to become satisfied and stop learning the language. However, the process of learning is never ending and fluency is much more than simply being able to converse properly. You must always be seeking the next level of proficiency in the language and tap into the wealth of culture, literature and heritage of the language in order to continue gaining a deeper understanding of it.