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Learning a new language

By Sarah Dong,

Learning a new language gives us so much perspective in life. We could enjoy our vacation abroad without all those language barriers; ordering our food without misunderstanding, meeting new friends, having conversations, etc… Also, learning a new language opens our options for living in a new country or finding a new job.
A new language can offer us so much possibility, so why aren’t we all polyglots? The road towards mastering a new language can be pretty tough. All the grammar rules, accents, pronunciations, etc. take time and effort to learn.
If you are like many of us, you have probably taken many years worth of classes of at least one foreign language while in school, but nothing really stayed in your head. Where did all those hours go? Isn’t it awful when we think about it? So many hours lost in these classes, doing homework!!! And the result: nothing!!! Why can’t our brains remember all the things we learned? Why is it that we can often remember a discussion word for word but not remember a few complex grammar rules?

Our brain is a very complex machine, which seems to retain what we like or hate over what we would like to remember. Unfortunately we cannot just tell our brain to remember, he does not listen to us. He does his own thing,… Therefore I think that the first priority is to focus on our deep and real motivation. It is critical to have real motivation, the drive, and the hunger to learn a new language in order to be able to master it. This seems to be how it works for most of us. We are not all language learning geniuses.

So before you embark on your new language learning journey, here are some questions to ask yourself: what are the reasons I want to learn a new language? Is it really for me? Do I really want this?
If you cannot find a motivating reason or answer no to these questions, learning a new language would be even harder.

If you you have found all the motivation in the world and really want it, then, let’s continue finding the best ways to master a new language!
You will need to practice what you have read in books, listened to on tapes or TV, or heard around you in the real world.
As I am a kinesthetic type of learner (click here to find out what type of learner you are), I found that reading out loud helps me a lot: I remember much more and it actually stays in my head. I would recommend everyone to read out loud even if you are a different type of learner.

It also helps a lot to record and listen to yourself: listening to the way you speak on recordings, can be very helpful in order to progress, as you can focus your attention on listening to how you sound instead of putting all the attention on what you are saying (and worrying about how to say it). You will be able to notice your own mistakes, which is way more impactful. You could also ask a native speaker to listen to you and correct your pronunciation.

There are plenty of other ways to master a new language, you just have to find the ones that work best for you:
Making new friends from the country that speaks the language you want to learn and have conversations
Watching TV or listening to the radio,
Recording/writing all the new words in a notebook,
Reading an easy and interesting book in the new language and underline words you do not know to check in the dictionary.

Good luck on your new language learning journey!!!!!