Learning a language is difficult for anyone and it is quite possibly one of the hardest things you will do. I have been teaching a language for almost 9 years now as well as trying to learn a couple of other languages too. In this journey of mine, I have picked up a few important tips that need to be kept in mind for every language learner. So, if you are teaching a language or learning one, this blog post is for you.
Develop your vocabulary
Vocabulary is super important for language learning. The words you have in your vocabulary bank the better you will be at expressing yourself. Every time you encounter a new word, you need to write it down in a “vocabulary note book” (you don’t have one!?). Then, you need to remember/learn three things: the spelling of the word, the pronunciation and, most importantly, how to use it. So, mastering these three will swiftly increase your vocabulary and as a result, aid you in your writing and speaking. Find yourself an online resource that has the spelling, pronunciation and example sentences all in one place. This will be very useful.
Practise Practise Practise
This is connected to the previous tip. The best way to remember the new words you encounter is by using them. So, practise using them whenever you get a chance. Here, you need to be prepared to make mistakes and sound silly. Language learners who learn the language the quickest are those who are fearless and don’t worry about making mistakes. Set aside a portion of each day to only use the target language with a friend or family member.
Do not translate
Ditch the translators as soon as you can. Firstly, they are inaccurate because you can never truly translate from one language to another. Secondly, they only hinder your language learning journey and slow you down. The one who relies on translating is working a lot harder than the one who doesn’t. This is because you have to first translate it into your own language and then to produce it into the target language, you need to translate your response back to the that language. The process is long and tiring, as you can see.
Surround yourself with the language
The best way to learn a language? Move to a country where the first language is your target language. This will not be feasible for everyone, so the next best thing is to expose yourself to as much of the language as possible. Listen to talks and the radio, watch TV shows and movies, and read books and news articles. Language is all about input and output.
Read and listen to the language
Connected to the previous tip about input and output. You need to feed the input first before you start the output as that is dependent on the input. The input is what you take in, so the listening and reading. The output is the speaking and writing i.e. what you produce yourself. Why do you think children do not speak for the first few years? This is because all they are doing is taking in the language and once they are ready they will produce.
Related: The benefits of reading.
Learn the basics quick
Learn the absolute basics first. How to introduce yourself, how to ask simple questions and the corresponding responses too, how to talk about your job, your likes and dislikes, your hobbies, your family and your hometown. Use them as frequently as you can. If you are living in the target language country, then go out and use it on others. If not, find someone to practise with. If that doesn’t work for you either, then record yourself having a conversation with yourself. Listen back to it and try to identify any mistakes if possible. This will do wonders for your language and confidence.
These were the 6 tips for learning a language that I, as a language teacher and learner, have come up with. Please feel free to let me know of any others that I may have missed or if these benefited you.