As a Translation and Interpretation student I'm interested in learning languages and looking for methods that make this process easier. I do not speak many languages (yet), but I'm definitely planning on studying more and becoming fluent on those I am learning now. It has been scientifically proven that learning a language has many benefits such as improving your memory, developing your ability to multi-task... So why not give it a try?
In today's post I want to share a few tips that have worked for me when it comes to leaning a new language from scratch, or even if you already know the basics but you want to get serious about it:
1. Get used to how it sounds by looking at programs, movies, documentaries... Even if you don't understand the words. Watch youtubers whose native language is the one you are trying to learn and turn on the subtitles in English or any other language you do understand. I think it's important that you start to recognise when a word finishes and another one starts, although you may not know what it means.
2. Use apps such as Duolingo during any spare time you have. This kind of apps let you set up daily goals, therefore, you can decide how often you want to practise.
3. Put post its around your house with the translation of the furniture/ rooms... in the language you're learning, this way you will be surrounded by this words all day long and you'll end up learning them. It's true that there's no need to know long lists of vocabulary, but the more words you know, the more things you'll be able to explain (if you know how to use them properly, of course)
4. Learn structures, not single words. Many language have completely different structures that do not correspond with the ones from our mother tongue. Some people tend to translate them literally into the other language, without taking into account the possible changes of meaning. For example, in English, we say: "When is your birthday" whereas on German, the same question would be "Wann hast du Geburstag?", which literally means "When do you have your birthday?".
5. Repeating is the best way to assimilate the pronunciation. I would watch videos and pause them to repeat the sentences so you start to get used to the phonetics of the language. If you don't know a word and you look it up on an online dictionary, listen to its pronunciation, most of this pages have a place where you can click to hear how it sounds.
6. Read short texts that are related with the vocabulary you're studying. At the beginning it will be hard and you won't understand much, but don't be afraid to look up for words and write down their meaning for future reference. As you get better you'll see that it's very rewarding when you realise that you actually understand something foreign language. You can also read blogs, magazines...
7. Colour code. This technique is very useful if you are learning a language that has different genders (Ex: French, German, Spanish, Italian...). Use a different colour for the feminine, masculine and the neutral, so your brain associates it better. I think that colour coding your notes is also helpful when studying the verb tenses and other tricky aspects you need to learn by heart.
8. Get a pen pal. When you start to feel comfortable writing in that language, get a pen pal from a country when they speak it to practise your writing skills. By doing so you can also learn a lot of things related to the culture, since they are native and they know it first hand.
9. Surround yourself with that language in every aspect. Change the language on your phone, tablet, computer... Visit a country that speaks this language. Spending some time abroad is definitely the best thing you can do, but that takes a bit of time and money.
I hope you found these tips helpful and share some other advice in the comments!! Are you learning any language at the moment/ planning on learning one?
Have a nice weekend :)