Learning a new language is not always as easy as it seems. The naked truth is that there is not 1 single effective way to learn another language. What it means is that one method is not efficient in learning another language. Why we learn other languages is to communicate with other people who we can’t communicate with using your own language, if there is a love interest for example it can get really important.
Why, you ask? Because learning a language is more than just using the your learning skills as in learning grammar and vocabulary. It combines using your brain combined with talking, listening, keeping up with the conversation and correct pronunciation so that you can be understood. It also involves not being shy. Don’t hide behind the language you speak and people who can speak it with you while learning. Immersion is one of the quickest keys.
Have you been impressed by that person who learned to communicate effectively in Spanish in 3 months? The only difference between you and that person is the amount of time that have spent speaking that language. You are learning Spanish for 1 hour every week in your home country, and that other person has been immersed in that culture, surrounded by advertising, radio, television, music and chit-chat all day long for 3 month. No wonder!
Step 1 is to open your book and check the pronunciation of each letter. Note the pronunciation differences between that language and yours. Never assume that the pronunciation is the same between the same letter in your language and the one you are learning. (If you’re lucky the language will use the same characters as yours, for example the Roman alphabet common to English, Spanish, Hungarian and Malaysian etc). Practice your pronunciation while speaking out aloud a few new greetings you have learned.
Step 2 Grammar and vocabulary. Learn them and build on them. Reading cool children’s stories is an easy way to start. Again practicing them is important as you have to learn the connection between, thinking and getting your mouth to move at the same time.
Step 3 is trying to talk and have a conversation in that language. This involves listening, pronunciation and talking, try to co-ordinate these at the one time and your starting to go places.
Step 4 you are getting better, watch television and try to keep up with the conversation, drama is slower and easier to follow than comedy which also tends to use more slang
Step 5 start to immerse yourself. Get away from speaking to people in your own language, go communicate with the speakers of your new language and have fun. The more you do the quicker you’ll learn.
Frustrated? It’s not happening for you? You haven’t noticed that it’s you that is stopping yourself from learning? The fact is that so many of us are afraid of making a mistake so we don’t open our mouths and talk. What’s going to happen? You get the death penalty? No way! There are people out there who want to be your friends and can still understand you even if you make mistakes.
Sometimes you think you are getting nowhere and then all of a sudden you realise that you’ve managed to watch a movie and more or less understand what was going on.
The best cure for language shyness and fear of mistakes is alcohol. You go out in a foreign country have a drink or 2 (not so many that you can’t speak any more) and all of a sudden it is flowing from your mouth. What an achievement!