Are you keen to learn a new language? Then congratulations are in order! There are many reasons why people want to learn a new language and regardless of what is yours, there are many proven benefits of doing so. Here are four of them:
- Exercise Your Brain – You have probably already heard that your brain is like any other muscle: you have to exercise it regularly. Learning a foreign language is an excellent way to improve your memory and increase your attention span. Since a language has its own patterns, set of rules and structures, you will improve your communication and problem-solving skills and your cognitive thinking. In other words, learning a new language makes you smarter.
- Meet New People And New Cultures – Have you ever heard someone say: ‘why should I learn a second language if everyone speaks English?’ This is absurd. Even though English is widely spoken, not everyone speaks it, not even by far. Unfortunately, language barriers restrain us from getting to know interesting people, making new friends and expanding our horizons by getting in touch with new cultures and different ways of thinking. When you learn a foreign language, you overcome these language barriers and a whole new world becomes available to you with all of its possibilities.
- Provides Better Career Choices – Gone are the days when speaking a second language was professional differential. Nowadays, being bilingual is mandatory if you want to possess a desirable resumé. Potential employers consider the fluency in a second language a valuable asset in today’s global economy. As companies go forward in their endeavor of breaking into new markets, being able to communicate with manufactures and customers of other countries will only increase your professional value and open new professional opportunities to you.
- Improves Your Communication Skills – As you learn a foreign language, you enhance your vocabulary and comprehension of your mother tongue. You also become a better listener, since you have to really pay attention to what other people are saying to understand them. Furthermore, you will be happy to know that once you’ve learned a second language, learning the third, the forth and so on becomes much easier. This happens because you can reuse the same learning techniques and skills to study any new language structures.
These are just some of the benefits of learning a new language. Now that you are convinced that this is a worthwhile investment of your time and energy, you may be wondering: what is the best way to learn a language?
Long gone are the days when you had to sit with several books and read, read and read in order to learn a language. Nowadays, there are more realistic and fun approaches to do so. In this article, we will see some pretty good tips that, combined, will show you the best way to learn a foreign language:
Expose Yourself To The Language
The first thing you should do is to be exposed to the language as much as you can. Forget about reading grammar books, make this a fun step! You can do it by watching movies and TV series, listening to music and podcasts and reading comic books or children’s books in the language you want to learn.
Even if you don’t understand everything that is said, you are making your brain get used to the words and sounds of the foreign language. A friend of mine call this process “learning by osmosis” and it really works.
Learn And Remember Words By Using Anki
As you are exposed to the language you are willing to learn, you will start to learn some basic words. Wouldn’t be nice if you had an electronic way of writing and organizing these words, so that you could read them again and again until you have undoubtedly memorized them?
I present you the answer to your prayers: a program called Anki. It is a free tool that uses flashcards to make it easier to remember the vocabulary you learn. Basically, you write a word or sentence in the foreign language on one side of the flashcard (for example, niño) and the translation in English on the other side of the flashcard (boy).
All of the flashcards you create become a deck that you can use to study whenever you want. The program shows the cards to you and you are tested to see if you can remember the translations. The program then selects the cards you have struggled more with and shows them to you more often, so you can practice more and memorize them. Pretty cool, right?
Speak, Speak and Speak!
Don’t get too obsessed with grammar books and memorizing rules as we had to do in high school. It is plain to see that the method used back then to teach us a foreign language was not very productive.
We were expected to memorize a bunch of random words and sentences, write them down in tests, speak them in front of our colleagues and if we made the slightest mistake, we would be punished with a low grade. Instead of encouraging us to speak, this method has rather made us all terrified of speaking and making mistakes.
To learn and become fluent in any language, it is imperative that you start speaking from day one and that you do so in every single opportunity you have. Find yourself good language partners and practice as much as you can with them. Don’t mind making mistakes, they are part of the process and they can teach you a lot.
Remember: this is how a baby learn his parents’ mother tongue, by listening and mimicking at all times. Also, the sooner you speak the language, the more confident you will feel and the less likely you will give up.
Have a Good Language Learning Schedule
Remember when you pulled all-nighters studying for that big test in high school or in college? It does not work this way when it comes to the best way to learn a new language. In this case, the saying “slow but steady wins the race” is very appropriate.
Learning a new language is a commitment you are doing with yourself and it involves two steps: planning and executing.
Don’t you have a time to go to work, to eat and to sleep? You thus have to have a time set for studying! Therefore, think about the things you have to do every week and then find out in which period of the day you can separate one or two hours to study.
Avoid trying to study very long periods of time and respect the limits of your attention span so you don’t waste time and energy.
Also, separate the time you have available in two halves. On the first half, you learn new things and you insert them into Anki. On the other half, you revise what you have already learned.
Set reasonable short-term and long-term goals. You can even write them down in a calendar or in a study printable. Put it somewhere you can always see it, such as on the fridge or next to your bed. This will help you stay focused.
Take your language learning schedule seriously! Set an alarm to remind that it is time to stop whatever you are doing and to go studying (you can watch that Netflix series later, it isn’t going anywhere).
Keeping your goals in mind will help you to develop the essential self-control to don’t give up. For example, if you want to learn a new language to improve your career prospects, think about what will you do with your first payment after you land that dream job.
Figure out what helps you stay focused. Are you an aural learner? So it will be useful listening to some kind of white noise, such as rain or waves sounds, while you are studying.
Are you a verbal learner? Then reading out loud what you are studying and explaining out loud what you’ve understood to yourself may help.
Are you a physical learner? Hence, you can use some study printables and trade the tablet for physical books to study.
Or are you a logical learner? Then create a mindmap or use index cards to build a structure that will help you study.
Are you a solitary learner or a social learner? In other words, to you prefer studying alone or in group? Studying alone has the advantage of having your own schedule, while studying in group may help you dedicate more and learn in a fun way.
It doesn’t matter what kind of learner you are, it is crucial that you figure out what works best for you and stick to it. In a nutshell, the best way to learn a language is by planning exactly when and how you are going to study and sticking to your programmation no matter what.
By doing so, you will master the language you are craving to learn in no time! The feeling of achievement and realization will surpass any challenge you may have to face to get there and you will never regret it!
Did you like this article? We have a lot of other cool tips for you on our Mimic Method’s Youtube Channel. Subscribe to check them out!