You have been invited to attend an important meeting in Germany next month, you have received an amazing promotion and are now travelling lots or you have been asked to relocate to Shanghai. All these scenarios have something in common; you need to get your language skills up to speed – quickly! We’ve put together this surefire list of tips which we are sure will help you to learn a language more quickly.
Want to Learn a Language? Start with assessing your options
You may well have heard that spending time in the target culture, immersing yourself in the culture is by far the best way of learning another language.
What is it that successful language learners do to ensure they learn quickly and effectively?
However, this option might not be available to you, and even if you have relocated, it is no guarantee that you will succeed in learning the language.
Many expatriates return home with little or no mastery of the local language, and equally, there are others who have become fluent in one or more foreign languages without ever leaving home.
Natural aptitude aside, what is it that successful language learners do to ensure they learn quickly and effectively?
Here are 10 ways to learn a language
1. Understand your Learning Style
Auditory learners prefer to hear new words to commit them to memory
Learning is very personal and we don’t all learn new languages in the same way:
- some of us are logical and need to understand how the structure works and see the grammatical patterns
- others are visual and have to see new language written down and illustrated
- auditory learners prefer to hear new words to commit them to memory
You will need to do all of these things but understanding how you learn best can help you to save time and make more speedy progress.
2. Invest in Good Quality Online/Audio Material
Make sure that the material fits your learning style – online language courses and methodologies abound all promising to get you fluent quickly.
Shop around and choose the method that will work best for you – and then use it! Listen on your journey to work, while you are waiting to collect your kids or before you go to sleep or whenever you have time to spare.
3. Take Advantage of Free Resources
There is now also a myriad of free learning resources available online
There is now also a myriad of free learning resources available online that can be particularly helpful during the early days of your language-learning journey.
The BBC offers resources in 40 languages, but there are plenty of others.
4. Feed your Interests and Motivations
Find materials about topics that interest and excite you so that learning becomes a pleasure.
Find blogs or magazines related to your hobbies, see what films are available in your target language or watch or read the news headlines every day.
Find materials about topics that interest and excite you so that learning becomes a pleasure
5. Practice Makes Perfect
Just like learning any other new skill you need to find as many opportunities to practise as possible. One-to-one lessons with a qualified native speaker will speed up your learning process but if this isn’t possible find other opportunities to practise.
Perhaps you have a colleague who speaks your target language, or you can find a local restaurant with local staff so you can practise ordering your meal or discussing the football scores.
You can find a local restaurant with local staff so you can practise ordering your meal or discussing the football scores
6. Do Something Every Day
Expose yourself to the language you are learning every day. To make sure your learning becomes part of your routine you could have:
- email alerts coming into your inbox
- flashcards posted at your desk or on your kitchen wall
- time with your vocabulary notebook
- audio material on your way to work every morning
Expose yourself to the language you are learning everyday
7. Work All Four Skills
When we communicate we usually combine:
While one of these may be more important to you make sure you practise all four. One of the ways to learn a language is to think about where you need to focus, e.g speaking and spend as much time as possible working hard on that skill. The others will naturally come along as you listen more, watch more original version media, read emails, newspapers, etc.
8. Be Curious
Look for patterns and exceptions in the grammar and pronunciation
Be interested in how the language you are learning works. Look for patterns and exceptions in the grammar and pronunciation, find out more about the culture, look words up when you don’t recognise them or if you’re not sure how to say something new.
9. Take Risks
Another way to learn a language is to take risks. Successful language learners experiment and they take risks so even if you are not sure how to say something always have a go when the opportunity arises.
As you progress, you can be the one who offers to welcome overseas visitors to the office, take the call from a speaker of your target language or help prepare for meetings and presentations.
10. Love your Mistakes
Lastly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as this is how we learn.
Making mistakes is a natural part of learning a language and helps us to become aware new patterns and systems so you shouldn’t feel downhearted when you get something wrong. When you are interacting with native speakers, ask them to correct you and notice their corrections.
When you are interacting with native speakers ask them to correct you and notice their corrections
There are much more ways to learn a language and infinite tips on how to learn new vocabulary, structures and build fluency. Find what works best for you and enjoy speaking the language!