Learning foreign languages does not happen at once, just like one of the most famous quotes states, “Rome wasn’t built in a day. But they were laying bricks every hour”. To break it down why it is relevant to learning languages, let’s go through the language learning process first and show you the best strategies and techniques to learn a language.
Languages are tricky. Yet there might be a lot of similarities between the language you speak and the ones you want to learn, they will suddenly surprise you with their differences as well. That is exactly why learning another language is time-consuming and challenging at the same time.
Fluency takes a lot of effort to achieve and persistent work to not give up halfway through. And since everyone has different styles and paces of learning and perceiving, there are still some common tricks and techniques that are applicable for everyone.
Of course, before targeting to learn a new language, we all have some vague ideas about the language, have heard it before, or at least are familiar with a language in that same language group. So while you can make some assumptions based on what a certain word could possibly mean, it is also a helpful strategy to associate different words to what you’re trying to memorize. For example, if the word ‘book’ in Spanish is ‘el Libro’, more than never you associate books with libraries, so it’s easy to remember that there are books in libraries, and there you go, you have your association made effectively.
I mean obviously you are using your visual and auditory senses to learn the language, but let’s make it even better here. The process of learning tends to get boring at times, so why not make it more interesting and fun? Take adapted versions of good books you wanted to read for a while or watch a movie in its original language (subtitles are there to help you if you are stuck). This will greatly help you improve and enrich your vocabulary and with movies, you can even improve your pronunciation right on spot.
After watching and reading for some time, you will start noticing that you are now familiar with the practice of most commonly used words and phrases in everyday speech. And actually, reading interactive blog posts or modern books, even children books (very easy and effective for beginners) come in handy without a failure. Or if you happen to be a fan of sports, in this case watching sports channels and programs will also help you immensely.
Start making changes. Those changes can be as simple and obvious, as changing your phone settings to the language you are learning. Since you already know what is where on your phone, and because you use it every hour of every day, it will greatly optimize your memory to pay attention to new words you already know, but in the targeted language.
Why this is probably one of the most important things to remember while learning a new language, is because a lot of people tend to lack the confidence to speak it. There are a good number of people who have enough knowledge and vocabulary to put sentences together and express their ideas but are afraid of making mistakes. This is such a pity, since the absence of confidence in your knowledge is your number one enemy in learning, especially when it comes to foreign language. Just remember, that everyone makes mistakes and you shouldn’t be scared or discouraged by it. A great quote by Peter McIntyre summarizes the importance of confidence, stating that “Confidence comes not from always being right but from not fearing to be wrong.”
A huge part of learning a foreign language takes up the actual practice of it. Referring to the point mentioned above and combining them in a way, let’s face it that people learn from their mistakes. If you find the courage to speak the language you’re learning even with difficulty, a few errors, and corrections, you will probably never repeat those mistakes again. Also, an important and extremely helpful strategy could be to try and interact with native speakers of the language, where you will have no other way to avoid using it. And trust me, you would be surprised by how much you really know once you start hearing yourself speak the language. It’s better to speak broken Spanish, than not speak it at all, isn’t it?
Now that the main and practical techniques have been covered, let’s talk about that one thing that matters the most when it comes to the long, tedious and obstacle-filled process of the learning process itself. There are two things that affect your progress the most: your attitude and motivation.
If you set the right attitude and mood from the very beginning of your journey, you are destined to overcome all the difficulties that pop out along the way. An “I can” attitude, undoubtedly, solves all the problems whenever you are stuck or discouraged to continue. This brings us to the next objective: motivation. Why this is essential and a ‘key factor’ for language learning strategies, as Zoltán Dörnyei, a professor at the University of Nottingham mentions, is because the only drive for you to succeed in any case is your own motivation. Being closely related to your attitude, your motivation is the one that pulls you out of the trap whenever you don’t feel like going on.
As derived from what has been said above, despite the difficulties and the duration of the process, the outcome of speaking another language is extremely rewarding. Therefore, choose your strategies and techniques to obtain that level of comfort and fluency at your desired language overly wise.