Whatever language you are interested in, it will always be a challenge to learn in. It could also be very difficult, frustrating, and confusing. Unless you are genuinely interested in the language, you are dedicated to learning it and you are committed to seeing your foray into learning a foreign language from start to finish, chances are you’ll drop it midway through the course or even earlier.
So what do you do to ensure that you stick with the language lessons until you’re able to understand, speak and write it?
Why learn another language?
People have different reasons why they want to learn another language. It can boost their CV. It can be of great advantage when a person likes to travel. Experts believe that it could make you better at English while making you more decisive and smarter.
Being able to speak one or two languages is beneficial to a person’s cognitive process. Physiologically speaking, it’s been found that the brains of bilingual persons function differently than the brains of people who speak only one language. The differences have many cognitive advantages, according to experts. But it has to be pointed out that these benefits are only apparent if the person regularly speaks several languages. Even people who study other languages when they are already adults can still attain the same level of fluency as those who learn languages at a young age.
Cognitive benefits of learning new languages
You’ll be smarter
The brain is challenged to recognize, communicate and negotiate meanings in a different language. This boosts a person’s capability to negotiate meanings in other tasks that involve problem-solving.
Learners of foreign languages are better at standardized tests than their monolingual student counterparts, especially in reading, vocabulary and math.
You develop skills in multitasking
Because you are able to switch from one language to another, which involves two systems of structure, writing and speech, you develop multitasking skills. Even when performing two tasks, a multilingual person is not easily distracted.
You slow down the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s
Several studies showed consistency in proving that the onset of dementia is earlier on monolingual adults than in multilingual adults. Even when researchers considered factors such as level of education, gender, physical health and income, they get consistent results, proving that speaking two or more languages is helpful in staving off dementia and Alzheimer’s.
You improve your memory
Your brain functions better when it is exercised. While learning a language, you memorize vocabulary and rules, which makes your brain work harder. The process improves your memory. Multilingual speakers are better at remembering sequences and lists, too.
You’ll be more perceptive
Multilingual persons are good at erasing irrelevant information and retaining those that are relevant. They observe their surroundings better and at identifying misleading information.
You’ll enhance your decision-making skills
Making rational decisions is a strong trait of multilinguals. They tend to think things over in their second or third language to gauge whether their first conclusion remains valid.
Your skills in English improve
When you’re learning a language, you study its grammar, sentence structure and conjugations. When you start focusing the mechanics of the language you’re learning, you also become aware of your first language, helping you improve your understanding of its mechanics as well. You’ll also become a better listener.
Putting some fun into language learning
It’s tough to learn another language and often it is a chore to learn the grammar, the different sentence structures and the new lexicon.
You can be creative when you truly want to learn a language to overcome the challenges learning a language presents. The Internet is also a big help. To be a more effective learner, the language you chose should give you satisfaction, happiness and the enthusiasm to keep on learning.
Here are some of the top ways to be creative in your approach to language learning and add more fun to it while enhancing your language skills.
Yes, play Scrabble, with a twist. Try playing it in the language you are learning. You can play alone or with a friend who speaks the language. At first, you can use a dictionary to help you along. Later, you should do away with the dictionary and challenge yourself to come up with the foreign words on your own. You’ll learn the correct spelling as well as the meanings, which is beneficial to you.
Read recipes in the foreign language
Another way is to look for recipes in the foreign language. Even if you do not know how to cook, it’s another way to learn the local variations of the language that can help your reading skills in the same way that you try to read a book.
Food is a good motivator and you do not have to spend a thing to find recipes in other languages online. If you love food or you love to eat (at least), then you’ll find the motivation to understand the ingredients in another language. More often than not, recipes use relatively simple language.
You’ll quickly learn new words such as chop, bake, separate, mince, fry, boil, sauté, heat or slice. You’ll also learn the terms for vegetables, meat, fish and other ingredients in the new language. You might even take up cooking or at least try to cook the recipe you’ve been reading. Having a good meal is a great reward for all your efforts.
Watch movies and dramas in the new language
You’ll find so many movies and dramas with subtitles in other languages online. Some of them are professionally done while others are subbed by fans and other subbing groups who do it for fun. It might take some getting used to initially as you have to watch the video while reading the subtitles.
Later, you’ll have the knack for it, since you’ll be able to pick up most of the words and quickly understand parts of the dialogue. The repetitive use of the words helps in committing them to memory. You can also try to turn off the subtitles so you can practice your listening skills. It will help in comprehending the language in its local, not formal usage. You’ll be able to pick up and learn to use local idioms and jargon, as well.
If you’re watching movies or dramas on YouTube and other video streaming sites, you can click the CC (closed captions) button to turn off the subtitles. Another thing you’ll definitely acquire is an appreciation for foreign dramas and movies.
Adjust the speed of the playback so you can understand the dialogue and make the pause and back buttons your friends for the meantime. If you find it difficult to understand what’s being said, turn the English subtitles on.
Read in the language you’re learning
Even if you do not understand most of the words, you can always use a dictionary. You’ll be exposed to many words and learn how they are used in different contexts. It can be a real challenge but it is fun. Soon you’ll be able to pick up common words. Many experts say that you can start by reading poems since these are shorter and the use of the words is on point.
If you are a beginner, try to read children’s books so you can start with basic words and phrases before moving on to more difficult words and sentence structures. You may be able to find a book in the new language that comes with a separate section for its translation. It’s similar to those crossword puzzle books that provide the answers at the back pages. Just try not to cheat by looking at the book translation all the time.
Play trivia games in a foreign language
This is a great way to learn when you have friends who speak the language of your choice. For a beginner, look for trivia games for children so it would be easier. You’ll be able to learn new words quickly, practice your foreign language speaking skills while reading the questions aloud and boost your listening and comprehension.
You’ll be able to learn many things about the country as well. Learning the culture of the country where the language you’re learning is spoken, helps you to appreciate the language more.
These are just five of the many tips to making learning a language fun. You can aim to learn a new word or sentence each day and use it as often as you can until you are able to memorize it. Using flashcards is a good way as well, as you have a record of what you’ve learned. If you’re more adventuresome, you can switch your phone’s language settings to the one you are learning. Listening to music in your target language is another fun way to help you. Another thing to try is joining language forums. With the availability of forums online, you can access the forums anytime and anywhere.