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21 Useful Tips for Learning a New Language

21 Useful Tips for Learning a New Language

Rosetta Stone markets itself as one of the fastest ways to learn a new language, but what if you don’t have the resources to purchase its software? What if you’re headed to a foreign country for a holiday and want to commit your resources to the trip and not software?

Or what if you’re a business executive who just learned that you’re flying overseas next week and you’ve never tried to speak the foreign language of that country before?

Believe it or not, it’s entirely possible to learn many of the basics of a foreign language in as little as 10 days. Of course, fluency takes more time, but the more you speak a foreign language, the more it will become less foreign!

But before we get into the main content, there are a few facts you should know to clear your way and set you to learn a new language.

Why is a Foreign Language Challenging to Learn?

Many people believe that learning a foreign language is an impossible task. That may be the case if you don’t have a reason to do so. But in reality, there is no language that is too hard to learn. So, what makes people think otherwise?

1. Lack of Motivation

Lack of Motivation

A motivation factor is your driving force in learning a new language. We will look at different reasons later. But for now, let’s face this obstacle.

Let’s face it, you will not see the need to prepare your dinner if you are not hungry. The same applies to learning a new language. Ask yourself why you need to invest your time and resources to learn a different language. At least, your efforts should not be in vain.

If you want to make learning a new language a fan and not a punishment, define your objectives or state the reasons for doing it.

2. Pronunciation Relationship

Pronunciation Relationship

Fortunately, most languages spoken in Europe have some similarities and exchange loanwords with English. Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Italian originated from the same Romantic linguistic branch as much of modern English did. The same can be said for German and some Scandinavian languages. Knowing this can help you learn a new language.

However, it can still be challenging for many to wrap their heads around the fine details of pronunciations in a foreign language. Moving from your native language to another will come with pronunciation challenges, but that should not worry you.

To some, the new language may seem like a tongue twister. But unless you overcome this obstacle, learning a new language will always be an impossible challenge to face.

3. Fear

Fear

They say children learn new languages faster than adults, but that is not necessarily true. The main difference is that children have no fear. They are not afraid of making mistakes in pronunciation or syntax.

Learning a new language is a big challenge. It will only be possible if you forget about your fear and act like a child for the time being. After all, you are the one who knows what you want, and you should go for it no matter what.

Some people also fear how native speakers will react when you struggle with their language. As opposed to what you might think, most will be excited and help you learn even faster!

4. Learning Time

Learning

Some people perceive themselves as underachievers if they don’t master a concept in record time. That should not be the case when you are learning a new language. Instead of setting a timeframe, just trust the process. Many factors affect your learning curve more than you had ever thought.

Learning a foreign language is a marathon, not a sprint. It is cultural and dynamic. So, setting goals like you want to learn Spanish in one week may only cause fear and frustrations.

See Related: 18 Epic Tips For Stress-Free Travel

Why Learn a New Language?

Learning a second language comes with its benefits. Even if you don’t have an immediate use for it, do it for personal gains. That is where you should get motivation.

So, what are the benefits of learning languages other than your native one?

Cultural Insight

If you want to understand a foreign culture, learning it is the first step you should take. Some things are not easily expressed in foreign languages. In fact, some local words do not have a direct English translation. To overcome such obstacles: you have no choice but to learn a foreign language.

The cultural insight allows you to walk freely in the country and interact with the locals. You will also better understand their lifestyle.

Meeting New People

Meeting New People tips for learning a new language

The world has become a global village. At least, that is the benefit of the rapid advancement of technology. But despite that, some people are still not able to explore this new village because of the language barrier. Meeting new people isn’t an easy task if you cannot understand each other.

If you want to travel to a non-English-speaking country, learning the language in that place is not optional. It will help you meet new people and get the best of your trip, whether business or leisure.

Enhancing Other Skills

Learning a foreign language is good for the brain!

You may want to learn a new language because of the benefits that come from it. Your intention may be to master a few phrases applicable to your next business trip. But in doing so, you significantly improve your creativity and problem-solving skills. You can be more competent in your field, making you stand out from the rest of the team.

New Career Opportunities

If you are looking for a job, you will appeal more to prospective employers because of the extras you bring to the table with a second language!

Some careers demand knowing more than one’s native language. They include sales, marketing, technical support, online tutoring, and others. According to the report published by The Guardian in 2010, learning a new language can significantly lead to wage improvement.

So, you don’t just have to learn a foreign language to make your trip fun. It is for personal development as well.

Brain Development

Brain Development

The human brain is always scaling to accommodate new concepts, info ideas, and ways to process it all.

It’s not like your computer’s hard drive with fixed memory capacity – brains are incredibly flexible. You can still learn the technicalities of another language and improve your brain.

Learning a foreign language has also been proven to boost your IQ, especially if undertaken during childhood.

The complex process of brain development and the benefits of being bi-lingual is a topic for another day. For now, let’s move to the main content of this article.  

See Related: What Does a Tourist Look Like? 5 Tips to Not Look Like One

Useful Tips to Learn a New Language

Below are our tips to help you quickly learn a new language to effectively communicate when you’re away from home.

Start with the Essentials Immediately

There are certain words that every language utilizes to communicate specific thoughts, ideas, and concepts.

Take about 15-20 words that you commonly use right now, and then find out what those words are in the language you need to learn.

Hello my pronouns are pic

Look them up, find out how they are pronounced, and then practice saying them for an hour or two.

Every day, add 15-20 more words that you commonly use and practice saying them in addition to what you learned the previous day. By the end of the first week, you’ve learned up to 140 words and how to pronounce them!

If you’re feeling ambitious, take the words you have learned on any given day and make them into flashcards. Visual references of words help the memory associate the picture with the word in your native language and the new one.

Learn Useful Sentences That You Think You’ll Use

Learn Useful Sentences That You Think You’ll Use

Unless there is a similarity [think the Romantic languages or Germanic/Scandinavian languages], there’s a good chance sentence structure will be different than what you’re used to saying.

Some languages put descriptors first, while others put nouns last. Some languages have male/female identifiers associated with all nouns, or some nouns, or not at all!

Learning sentences that you’ll likely use in your travels will help you in two ways: you’ll be able to accurately communicate a specific request. You’ll also begin the foundation of learning how you need to structure the words you’ve been learning.

Always Work on Your Pronunciation and Context

The correct pronunciation of a word can be the difference between a successful request for a cup of coffee and failure in another language.

Even in the English language, think about how context plays a role when spelling some words that sound the same but are spelled differently. For example, homophones such as there, their, and they’re.

It takes the human mind, on average, 7 times to correctly formulate the pronunciation of a word. But for difficult words that can require 3x or 4x the amount of practice. Keep going – you’ll get it!

Have “Positive Arguments” With Yourself

Have Positive Arguments With Yourself

The fastest way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in that language. By making it part of everything you do in your daily routine, you’re forcing yourself to remember the words and phrases you’ve been practicing.

Speaking to someone in that language who knows it enough to have a conversation with you is beneficial. But what do you do if you’ve got no one around you who can speak Swahili?

You can have a positive or constructive argument with yourself in your new language. Positive self-talk encourages you to learn even more because you’re developing confidence. It also helps to keep you immersed in the language you need to master.

If you mess up a word or phrase, that’s ok! Go back, get the pronunciation right the next time, and keep practicing. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.

Watch Your Favorite Movie In the New Language

movie popcorn

Thanks to worldwide media efforts and the internet. Many of our favorite movies are also dubbed in the language you need to learn.

It is even better if you get the dubbed language with the English subtitles underneath to give you a hand, but be warned; if Squid Game has taught us anything, not all subtitles are accurate!

It might be funny to watch Dark Helmet mutter something in Russian or have Cary Grant utter sweet pillow talk in German, but focus! You’re learning the language through these giggles! I promise that you are!

Read a Book in the New Language

Read new book in a new language

When you’re really up for a challenge, pick up a book written in the foreign language you’re learning and start reading it.

You’re probably going to want a dictionary alongside the book you’re reading to figure out words and pronunciations as you work to understand what is going on.

Audiobooks in a foreign language that you can follow along with as you read? Bonus points for you!

Why take on this task? Unlike words and sentences that you’re learning, a book can help you begin to understand the slang that every language has within it.

When you can comprehend the slang somewhat, you’ll be a more effective communicator, which will help you on your upcoming trip!

Get a Copy of Sesame Street

Get a Copy of Sesame Street

Kids programming is specifically designed to help children learn reading skills, word recognition skills, spelling skills, and other basic educational components.

It’s also delivered at a basic understanding level. So, you can start at the bottom and work your way up instead of trying to assimilate the information you don’t quite understand yet.

Even if you’re beyond the “just starting” stage to the “I’m beginning to understand some stuff” stage, these kids’ shows can help. They reinforce your knowledge and make it more readily accessible.

Learning a new language can be difficult for some people. But with the right tools and enough practice, anyone can master a language to the point where they can communicate.

Use these tips to work on your foreign language skills. You might surprise yourself at how you can talk to others…intentionally!

Setting the Learning Objective

Setting the Learning Objective

Only children can learn a new language without setting objectives. But even they have one main goal; communicating with each other. Language learning requires you to set your objectives. That is where you will get your motivation to keep burning the midnight oil to improve your language skills.

With set goals, you will be proud to master new words in your foreign language learning journey. Only then do you measure your success and assess yourself. A detailed outline of learning a second language is like a school syllabus. The only difference being you may have flexible timelines.

As mentioned, the learning process is a marathon. The only thing that can keep second language learners going is the goal and desire to improve their language skills. That should also be the case when you begin your journey with a single step.

Starting with Common Vocabulary

We have already stated that learning the phrases you intend to use will help you learn a second language faster. However, that will not improve your language skills in the long term. It is to achieve only a specific purpose; making a business trip a success.

If you really want to become an efficient learner, start by mastering the most common vocabulary of the target language. These are words that are used in everyday communication. Learning foreign languages will become easy if you can identify them and their variations.

You need these commonly used vocabulary words to form the basis of your conversation in the new language. After identifying them, know what their past, present, and future forms are so that you can correctly use them in a sentence.

Finding a Native Speaker to Practice Speaking With

Finding a Native Speaker to Practice Speaking With

A native speaker is the ultimate teacher. If you fear pronunciations in a second language, finding a buddy is a way to overcome this obstacle.

A native speaker can be your online tutor or a friend on social media. Some people also *ahem* date someone fluent in the target language to learn it more…intimately. Either way, these people will not look down on you and can become your perfect language teacher.

With a buddy that speaks a foreign language, you also have the best chance to practice the new words you learned. Plus you’ll also have the chance to see the difference between stuffy phrasebook examples and the language in its practical form.

You can learn idioms, slang, and colloquialisms, which any polyglot will tell you is what most languages rely upon in practice.

Also, you can find someone interested in learning your own language. That way, you have mutual benefits without taking expensive language courses. It is like giving with your right hand and receiving with your left hand!

Harnessing the Power of Technology

Harnessing the Power of Technology

Second language learning in this era is much easier than it used to be a few decades ago. You have technology everywhere you go! You might not have realized how powerful a language-learning tool your mobile phone can be.

The best part is, that many of the top ones are free to use.

Google translate can be your language buddy. Learning Spanish, French, or another target language is possible using the power of Google. It gives you time to practice speaking and using conversational phrases. That way, you can master the language quickly.

Traveling to a Country Where your Target Language is Used

Mastering the basics of a second language requires active learning. By that, we mean practicing it every now and then.

You can only get that exposure if you go to where native speakers are. You should do it and live among them for some time if you want to know more than just basic conversations.

Living among the native speakers of the target language helps you learn a new language fast. However, it may require more resources to pull out because it becomes your focus. It makes learning fun, and locals can also give you some language learning tips.

Listening to Others Speak the New Language

Listening to Others Speak the New Language

Learning a new language fast also requires good listening skills. Foreign languages demand new pronunciation abilities and need you to know how each word sounds.

You should listen to the words that come out from native speakers. Fortunately, you don’t have to go to those countries where your target language is used.

Once more, you can turn to the media. Watch your favorite movie in that language. If possible, there should be English subtitles.

Learning from the Mistakes

Learning from the Mistakes

Children are fast language learners because their brains are squishy and absorbent and they don’t fear making mistakes. That means you should act like a child to perfect your language skills – except for maybe the squishy brain.

You are likely to make mistakes in anything you do for the first time, and language learning is not different. Be ready to commit those common mistakes. Laugh them off with your buddies, but, most importantly, learn from them.  

If you focus on your new language learning goals, you will not care about what people think or say behind your back. Cynics and haters will always criticize, but that is part of a day to day life. Focus on the positives only when learning a new language!

Practicing your Target Language any opportunity you get

You don’t learn if you don’t put what you have learned into practice. There are many ways you can practice the new language. We have mentioned having a native speaker as a partner and speaking to yourself. However, that may not be enough.

If you want to practice and learn your new language, forget about the vocabulary and grammar. We understand your desire to speak fluently, but concentrating on these two aspects will instill fear. If that happens, you will not become an efficient second learner. That only hurts your language learning process.

Apart from native speakers and shouting particular words aloud to yourself, you can write song lyrics, poems, and essays. You can also record yourself using the target language.

Immersing Yourself in The Language

You can make all the efforts to master a few common words and phrases that you can use. But if it doesn’t become part of you, they can disappear as quickly as they came. Even iron rusts if not used!

When learning a new language or still in the process, let it be your world. Listen to music in that language, watch YouTube videos in that language, speak in that language, and let it become your new world.

You can even set up your mobile phone and other devices to use the new language. Learning a foreign language requires your effort and external input from all sources.

Investing in the Target Language

To achieve success, you have to work for it. don’t wait for things to come to you on a silver plate. In fact, let’s warn you against the cheap hacks that promise you fluency in a foreign language. The learning styles may vary from person to person, but your input is what guarantees you success.

First, learning a foreign language requires your time. You have to invest in identifying common words, sentence patterns, new vocabulary, and root words. That is true, whether you are learning French or other languages.

You may need to take a language course and pay your money as a strategy. There are many online courses that you can take, depending on the chosen language. Alternatively, you can have offline ones offered in different institutions or lessons from private tutors.

What you input in learning a language is the likely outcome you will get. We can’t promise you that new language acquisition takes a few weeks. But we know your commitment can reduce the time it takes to come from a prodigy to a fluent speaker.

Appreciating Cultural Diversity

Cultural Diversity

We all have different accents and idioms depending on regions and cultures. It may make communication difficult because the person you are addressing may fail to understand or even ignore you, but that should not be a turnoff.

Don’t feel humiliated if you can’t get it right the first time. Just continue pressing on and appreciate your differences.

If you are not good at pronunciation, make an effort to improve yourself. Listen to native speakers talk. That will help you master it, bit by bit.

Learning One Language at a Time

Time is a limited commodity, and many people try to make the best of it. Multitasking is time-effective. However, it won’t help you if you are learning a new language.

Don’t make the mistake of learning Spanish at the same time you are learning Portuguese. It is possible to get mixed up along the way. You will end up with a combination of the two languages, becoming fluent in neither Spanish nor Portuguese.

Invest all your time in learning one language first. Wait until you become fluent in it before starting another language for a better learning experience.

People often fail to achieve anything because they chase more. If you must learn different languages, list them in order of priority and face them one at a time.

Learning Cognates

This is good news for English speakers! Many languages share some words with English, with words having the same meaning. They were literally borrowed.

Start by recognizing loanwords from your native language with the same meaning as another language you want to learn. Words that end in -ion can be simply translated to French, Portuguese, or Italian by directly substituting them.

For example, change -tion in English words to – coin to make it French. Similarly, you can make it sound Portuguese and Italian by substituting -zione and -ção, respectively.

Just know that this is all quite different from things like creole, pidgin, or Spanglish – those are a completely different kettle of fish.

Using the Best Language Learning App

Learning a second language at home can sometimes be challenging because you have no one to guide you. That is why we have included using apps as tips for learning a new language.

Various apps for learning different languages exist. What you choose depends on your target language and your learning style. But still, it is possible to get overwhelmed with the available options.

After reviewing many language learning apps out there, we have come up with a few recommendations you can consider. They include the following:

Duolingo

duolingo

As the name suggests, this app supports multiple languages. You also don’t require an account to use it. This means you can access it for free.

There are also many ways to learn through it, and it provides tons of free lessons. However, they may be challenging to understand. But if you are up to the task, you should not find any problem with Duolingo.

You can access Duolingo using your PC, Android phone, or iOS devices. Choose from the different languages supported and start your lessons straight away.

Google Translate

Google translate

We have already mentioned Google Translations when harnessing technology in learning a new language. It is the best free tool for quick translations and works with multiple languages.

Unlike other language learning applications, Google Translate updates itself more frequently. What it falls short of is the lack of step-by-step lessons. It could have been better if it had translation exercises to train language learners.

But hey, it’s free and anyone with an internet connection can use it.

Google Translate is a web-based application, but you can also access it from mobile devices.

Memrise

Memrise

This application has unique teaching methods that can help you learn any language quickly. It also supports several languages, and you can upgrade it to premium features. But you will need to create an account to access those functionalities.

The user interface also requires a bit of experience to use. Overall, Memrise can help you learn most languages fast.

Like all other language learning applications mentioned, you can access it from Android and iOS devices and online through a web browser.

Busuu

Busuu

Busuu is the perfect choice for English speakers in the advanced stages of learning a new language. Its unique feature is that it can allow you to socialize with fellow learners and provide feedback.

Compared to other applications, Busuu has limited language selection. Most of its features require a premium subscription.

That should not be a problem if you are ready to invest in learning a language of a different country or culture.

AccelaStudy

AccelaStudy

AccelaStudy has different versions for every language you want to learn. Its features remain the same for all the app versions. Only the wording varies.

The app has different learning methods and allows you to build your study style. You can focus on what you want to know first.

The only downside is that Android devices are not supported. So, you only choose it if you have an iPhone or iPad.

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone is arguably the best language learning app on this list. It is mainly built for travelers who want to learn a foreign language spoken in the destination country.

This app has many unique features and supports almost all of the world’s commonly used languages. Whether you want to learn Chinese, Latin America, or any other language of choice, the Rosetta Stone app is up to the task.

It also supports multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, and windows. So, just download it and have your language partner in your pocket.

Be warned; its pricey premium features may be a bit expensive compared to others.

Hello Talk

Hello Talk

This application takes a different approach to help language learners master the basics. Instead of focusing on predetermined lessons, it acts as a network where you connect to native speakers of your target language.

Hello Talk allows users to exchange text and voice messages. It also features a translation and correction tool to let you edit texts in real-time.

The app currently has over 10 million users covering over 100 native languages!

Qlango

Qlango

Qlango is another language learning app that can help you learn your chosen language from scratch or use it to recap if you feel you are rusty. This app allows you to learn different languages fast and in a fun way. It aids in language acquisition by translating to the target language.

You can access Qlango through a desktop site or by downloading it on your Android or iOS device.

See Related: 5 Useful Tips for Traveling with Pets

Which Languages Should I Learn?

You might have a list of foreign languages you want to learn, but which of them is on-demand? The priority may vary depending on your needs. Consider the benefits before investing your time and resources in learning a new language.

What values will it add to your life? Some people struggle to learn a new language for a one-time trip to that country. It may not be worth all the hurdles you pass through if it won’t help you in the future.

So, what languages should you consider other than your own? We’re gonna assume you already have some grasp of English, so here’s a list of the most useful foreign languages to learn (in no particular order):

  • Chinese (Mandarin is more widely spoken, while Cantonese is still the lingua franca in Hong Kong)
  • Spanish (essential for any American)
  • Arabic
  • French
  • Portuguese
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Hindi
  • Russian

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