Learning a new language is not easy. An expert panel of linguists and language teachers gathered recently to find the most effective tips in learning a language.
There is no definitive method that anyone trying to learn a new language can apply to make the learning process faster and easier. Instead, it has to be a combination of different methods, which depends on one’s learning style, motivation, and willingness to go the whole nine yards.
The panel of experts includes teachers and linguists from Europe, some of them lecturing in universities in the UK and Budapest, such as Rebecca Braun and Alex Rawlings. They were joined by linguists and educators like Ed Cooke, Donavan Whyte, Aaron Ralby, Kerstin Hammes, Paolo Pini and Phil McGowan.
From their discussions and live forum, these wonderful multilingual personalities finally came down with these tips:
- Make sure that your language learning goals are specific and realistic. Ask yourself what you want to achieve by learning the language and when you want to learn it. It is best to have your goals broken down into smaller and more manageable ones that you are most likely to achieve within a few months.One target that is realistic and specific is to make it your own goal to read an article in the language you have chosen without using the dictionary, added Phil McGowan, the director at Verbmaps.
- It is important to recognize the reasons why you want to learn the language. According to Alex Rawlings, who speaks 12 languages and is a language teacher, you should have a motivation. He shared that he wrote ten reasons why he was trying to learn a new language and placed it where he could see it immediately so that he would have motivation when self-doubt descends on him.
- It is not a question of traditional versus technical approach, says Aaron Ralby at Linguisticator. Language leaning should be user-friendly and very easy for the students to use, because in the end, learning takes place within the student, so it does not matter if you learn the language through a teacher, a book, or a computer.
- Reading helps learners make progress in their study as it takes their experience into another level. They will be exposed to a different set of vocabulary and find better ways to see and understand the complicated grammar structure of the target language.
- Chief executive and co-founder of Memrise, Ed Cooke suggested that word association is a better option to remember new words instead of memorizing them. The key is to learn the vocabulary by ensuring that the words you are learning come from texts or situations that you have experienced.
- You are never too old to learn a language. The method may be different compared to children, but it should not deter you. Adults could learn a language systematically whereas children learn a language instinctively and organically.
- Understanding how your native language works will help you in learning a foreign language, according to Kerstin Hammes. The editor of the Fluent Language Blog said that unless you have a full grasp of your first language, it would be difficult for you to make progress in the second language.
- There are many stages in the process of learning a new language. When you have reached a particular proficiency level and are able to accurately say several sentences, sometimes there would be a slowing down in your learning process. One important thing you could do is to have translation exercises since you would not be allowed to paraphrase the text, which in turn would lead you to the next level of learning.
- Do not think that being fluent is enough. Learning a language is an endless process, which also involves learning the culture. It likewise affects your personal growth and improvement.
- It was also suggested by the panelists that you should go where the target language you are learning is spoken for better understanding and assimilation.
When choosing the foreign language you want to learn, be sure that you like that particular language. Do not study it because your friends are learning the same language or because you want to brag about speaking another language. It you like the subject you are learning, it will be easier for you to be motivated.
PS: Do you want to know how many languages are there in the world?