With a generation full of global citizens and the world being more interconnected than ever, you've probably caught yourself thinking, "I really wish I could speak another language." Learning a new language can help you gain different perspectives by allowing you to explore unfamiliar cultures and deepen connections with people you would never have associated with otherwise. If you're unable to stay in a country that speaks the language, it will be especially challenging, but far from impossible. Here are a few tips on how to learn a new language on your own, regardless of where you are in the world!
Being willing to make mistakes is one of the most difficult aspects of learning a new language. People learn by making mistakes, whether they are made when speaking, writing, or listening. Lose your self-consciousness and be carefree, brave, and daring. Act like a child! Young children are expected to make mistakes, but when it comes to adults, struggling is almost something to be ashamed of. Being okay with not knowing everything is the first step to effectively studying a language.
In addition, find a conversation partner. This person can be anyone who will aid and encourage your language journey, including a family member who is simply also learning the language or a good friend who is already a fluent or native speaker.
Remember, the Internet is an excellent resource for finding a language partner. Social media platforms such as Youtube, Instagram, and Facebook will guide you to vast communities filled with avid learners just like you! The more you speak to others, the better prepared you'll be for more situations. Don't be concerned about having the perfect pronunciation - having an accent doesn't mean you can't speak the language. If someone does pick up your accent, use it as a conversation starter to introduce yourself and your experience learning said language!
Along with speaking, try to immerse yourself into the language as much as possible. Listening and watching others talk when you can't talk yourself is a major way to improve vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. For example, by watching tv shows, you will be able to visually and audibly identify how the specific language uses the tongue, mouth, and throat, as different languages have different uses of those parts. There are countless ways of accomplishing the same thing, such as listening to podcasts, music, the radio, or watching youtube videos, news reports, and movies.
Once you've been exposed enough to the language that you are familiar with it, try reading and writing in the language. If there is a book you absolutely enjoy in your native tongue, try reading it in the language you are learning. Read blogs, the news, or magazines to discover new point of views and truly dive into the culture. For practicality, have a notebook handy to record everything you've learnt.
Lastly, talk to yourself! It may sound weird at first, but doing so will build confidence and keep words and phrases fresh in your mind. Having a conversation with yourself can prepare you for the next time you speak to someone. It's also one of the best ways to practice if you aren't in a region where you can speak the language regularly. Think of other creative ways to practice the language. For example, if you don't enjoy memorizing with traditional flashcards, opt for songwriting! No matter how you are learning the language, it's critical to practice every single day and absorb it as much as possible.
All in all, the most important part of learning a new language is to stay motivated. Having a good reason to learn a language will make you less likely to quit and more likely to work harder towards your goal. Take initiative and step into someone else's world. You'll soon realize that the arduous journey to speaking a new language was worth it.
The writer is a freelancer
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