It’s a well-known fact that children are fast learners. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you should refuse the idea of learning some new language from scratch because you’re an adult.
Your motivation to pick up new knowledge would be higher, as you chose to do it yourself and wasn’t forced to do it by your parents. No matter how old you are, it’s extremely difficult to fulfill some tasks when you have no idea how to do it.
It’s always easier to travel with a road map and positive guidance, the same logic applies to studying. As soon as you’ve decided to start, find some polyglots or experienced learners who are already comfortable in their linguistic field. Use the collective experience in mastering a new language, add some methodical know-hows and create your own route to the new world.
We’ve prepared Eight Essential Tips for you to make your learning journey easier.
#1 Ensure you like the language you’ve chosen
It’s no use to marry a dialect expecting to love it from day one. Being a grown-up, you may dislike one dialect or another simply because it sounds bad to you. That’s why it will be problematic to compromise and transform your attitude. A shock therapy can be used – listen to the native speakers until you get used to the way it sounds. Only after that, you may try to master it and succeed faster.
#2 Become a coach for yourself, set goals and work out strategies
Remember that vague goals are difficult to reach, you should apply the SMART goals technique to the process of your learning. Change “reading women magazines” to “I will learn fifteen words and phrases daily and train grammar rules for an hour and a half every day to read an X book in half a year. You can also use meta cognitive strategies. In this case, it involves three basic steps: planning and setting specific goals, as well as strategies for achieving them, learning and tracking your progress, evaluating your results in a certain period of time, finding out the reasons for failures if there are any. Then repeat the whole procedure all over again.
#3 Make use of the books
Find some kind of a course book, a course online or some language learning guide to follow it at the initial stage. Learn some vocabulary and then start adding grammar to it. Don’t worry about grammar too much. Theory tables are not worth a dime when you do not practice your speaking skills.
#4 Practice reading, writing, watching and listening in the target language
Comprise all the common activities like in your mother tongue and practice them. Make your best to avoid using dictionaries and subtitles but grasp the word and expression meanings from the context. To make the task easier, watch the films and TV shows you are used to and read the books you are familiar with. Practice reading magazines and newspapers as well and practice writing, no matter if it is a list of products for shopping or notes on the article, it will be useful. Listening not only allows you to study on the go but lets you hear the correct articulation and intonation of the everyday words and common phrases.
#5 Allow technology to help you
The simplest thing is to change the settings of the language on your gadgets and mobile devices, you’ll learn the new words right away. You can do the same with your browser settings as well. Besides, there are plenty of structured online learning opportunities now, from vocabulary flashcards to audio books and educational shows and courses.
#6 Make friends with native speakers
The best way to master a language is to practice using it. Talking face to face with a fluent person is the best way to exercise and polish your skills. There are multiple online forums and sites to find not only a friend speaking the required language, but a Skype friend to tutor you. Foreigners are eager to commit to that activity for half an hour. Interacting is a key – you learn to express your thoughts intuitively via communication.
#7 Do not worry about mistakes
Lots of people don’t speak foreign languages, because they are just afraid to start and open their mouth. But native speakers never expect you to communicate with them the same way they do it. They always appreciate your effort and do their best to help you. You can choose somebody younger than you to start communication if you are in fear of speaking to your peers. With practice, you will get to the elusive ideal of “native-like fluency.”
#8 Travel to a country that has your language of choice as one of their nationals
It will boost your communication skills to a new level! Interact with the locals and use every chance of pushing yourself into the conversation, soon you’ll notice that you are improving. One more thing we’d like to remind you is to enjoy yourself and the process, language is the thing connecting people, and we can enjoy many social rewards through it. Make sure that you use it for what it is intended, for socializing.
Obviously, there is no golden rule on how to master a foreign language. You just need to commit to it, be eager to work hard and overcome the fear of mistakes. Those tips are just recommendations that would make your transition nicer. Guidelines show you the way and the direction, but the road ahead of you expects some steps and movement as well.