Learning a new language is a natural skill for some while others have to work a little bit harder. If you want to master a language, you have to lean on immersion and conversation, but there are tips to help you along the way. This guide explores seven pieces of advice for people trying to acquire a second (or third) language.
Learn the Alphabet
You won’t get far if you don’t understand the basic concepts. Learning the alphabet, in both the standard and phonetic format, lends a hand to getting used to the way that things are pronounced. It is also a sounding board for mastering more complex structures and phrases, plus a definite confidence booster.
Immersive Multi-Media Strategy
Immersion in a foreign language is one of the most tried and tested methods that yields success. The theory is that you surround yourself with as much of the target tongue as possible. Turn on the radio every morning, fall asleep at night listening to podcasts, watch movies with subtitles, read books, find local speakers to converse with – go all out! The more you hear, and try to sing along or read, the more you absorb. A lot of things will be picked up without much effort, and all of the grammatical structures, pronunciation, and intonations unique to that language will be portrayed over and over for your ears and mind.
Focus on Building Vocabulary
Take a look at these five words that are the same all over the world. Now, this might be a random selection with varying contexts, but it’s a good place to start knowing you already have at least five universally understandable words in your vocabulary. From a small piece of knowledge like this, you can begin to build vocab. Start with common words like sets of numbers, colours, and building names. From there you can build on with potential animals, household objects, vehicle types, or professions. Expanding your word base increases the opportunity to contextualize phrases, understand conversations and begin to interject them into your own speech practices.
Pronunciation is Key
Even if you feel like a fool, recording yourself is one of the best methods for figuring out the tricky pronunciation. How you speak will determine how well you are understood by people. Shaping words is an art form that not everyone will master at first. It takes time and practice and lots and lots of speaking out loud.
Grammar Will Come
Some academic routes will put a huge focus on perfecting grammar. However, if you are just wanting to be able to speak a language, you don’t need to dive in with all the heavy grammatical stuff just yet. It will come naturally as you begin to speak the phrases and read the literature and hear native speakers doing what they do. There is value in acquiring some basic grammar know-how, but in the very beginning, it might just slow you down.
Master Basic Phrases
Aside from building vocabulary, you can also aim to have basic phrases in your pocket. Things like:
- Hello, my name is…
- How are you?
- I come from…
- Do you know the time?
Find a Native Speaker to Practice With
Finally, if possible, find yourself a dance partner. There a bound to be a handful if not more of people nearby who speak the language you are trying to learn. Join a social event (these are fairly common) and let the conversation flow naturally. This is also an opportunity to ask questions, overcome obstacles, and correct mistakes.
Learning a new language is a journey. There will be many hours of practicing involved and the biggest favour you can do to move forward positively is to find native speakers and immerse yourself in as many areas as possible.