How to learn a foreign language ?
« The limits of my language mean the limits of my world » said British philosopher, mathematician and linguist Ludwig Wittgenstain. When it comes to learning new languages have you ever considered this as overcoming some sort of limit in your life? Have you ever thought about starting to learn a completely new language and become bilingual, trilingual or maybe even a polyglot? If you have doubts that it may be too late for you or if you think that people who can speak foreign languages are simply talented you must know, that it is scientifically proven that the human brain is capable of learning new languages no matter what age you are. It doesn’t matter if it’s a child, student or retired person.
A few interesting facts which can be useful before you will start?
The most widely spoken Romance languages are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian. As an example, for someone who can speak Spanish it will be easier, almost effortless, to learn a new language from this group, i.e. Portuguese or Italian. The same principle could be applied to the Slavic group of languages which are: Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, and the South Slavic languages. In this case if you can speak i.e. Russian, learning Croatian, Bulgarian, Czech or any other language from the Slavic family should not be a problem for you. Furthermore, the knowledge of the Arabic language is making the whole process of learning new languages easier. If we can master the Arabic language we will acquire a big amount of the vocabulary, which will help while learning any other language. In light of the above, the question arises whether in case of the knowledge of many languages, let’s pretend 10, if we are really able to speak fluently in each one of them? The answer is, yes, we can be fluent in a few languages at the same time if we have the chance to use all of them in our daily life or at least very often. This can be i.e. at work, during our internship abroad, while traveling etc.
Can we learn a new foreign language alone?
The answer is… Yes, of course we can! Hereby, when learning a new language by our own, it is more important how much time we invest to learn the language, rather than the organisation of this time. Studying a language for 1 hour by ourselves means utilizing the most efficient way to grasp the language, as during this time we are learning in the most active and focused way possible.
When attending a language course or class with a group, we are easily distracted or interrupted by many things and the teacher is not able to perpetually pay the attention only to us. Briefly, this time which is supposed to be spent for acquiring a new language is not as effective as it would be while learning by our own. On the other hand, studying as a group has many positive aspects. While working with other students, we have the chance to engage more stimulus and emotions which also makes learning easier. The conclusion is clear. The best results will be reached by combining these two methods of studying. Of course, it is worth to attend a language course together with other students, but it is also very important to work independently, search for the materials that inspire us to study and to enhance our knowledge and skills.
Do we need to have a great gift for languages?
Some people assume that in order to learn foreign languages we must be talented or that having an excellent musical hearing as well is necessary, because languages and music have a lot in common. It is proved that in pursuance of learning at least one foreign language we don’t need any special talents. Each of us learnt our mother tongue, which shows that we already own all the necessary skills. All we need to remember, while learning a new language, is to properly use our potential which we already have and to find our own way to acquire lots of new grammar rules and vocabulary.
Three basic tricks which will help you to learn a new language faster.
- Learn the language in a passive as well as active way.
Active language learning means that we are learning the grammar rules and practicing the pronunciation as well. The passive way of learning a language is nothing more than watching movies with subtitles and listening to the music in a foreign language while doing some other activities like eating breakfast or having morning coffee etc.
- Organise yourself so as to ensure that you are constantly in touch with the language which you want to learn.
While you are busy in your daily life it will be worth the effort if you will try to surround yourself with the foreign language in every possible way i.e. listen to the podcasts, music, audiobooks, read the books in this language while traveling by public transportation, and at work at the university read the cards with the words of the day.
- Learn the language wherever and whenever you can.
« Thanks to modern technology you don’t have to be spending hours in the book, you can get an application and then with its help you can learn a new language, so even if it’s something for 10-15 minutes a day or in the morning and then later in the evening » Matthew Youlden – one of the most recognisable polyglots in the world.
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