Learning a new language might seem like a huge task when you first sit down and look over the material. Between all the grammatical components and cultural nuances, you can feel overwhelmed before you even start. Fortunately, there are ways to make the process easier for you, and new technology has made it simpler than ever to learn a new language.
Whether you are planning acquiring a new language for a vacation abroad or for self-development, here are some ways to make the process faster and more straight-forward.
1. Invest in a solid curriculum
While it might be tempting to purchase the first software or book that you see, having quality resources can help to make sure you are learning the right way—you don’t want to feel as though you aren’t challenged, but you also don’t want to feel as though you are moving too quickly through the material.
Apps are also a great way to learn without even realizing you are. Apps like Duolingo allow you to practice for free and provide you with new vocabulary and pronunciations of phrases.
Rosetta Stone is also a good option when you are looking to have an award-winning curriculum and you want to learn fast. It’s a much more traditional way to learn, and requires that you take tests and practice in order to pass. While it can be quite expensive, it might be the best bet when you need to be able converse with others quickly.
2. Practice regularly
If you can, setting up a schedule where you can practice your new skills on a regular basis can help you retain what you learn. If possible, taking a little time every day (even if it is just five or ten minutes) to go over previous vocabulary or grammatical structures can help you to remember important phrases that will be easier to recall in the future.
Practicing also means taking the opportunity to speak with native speakers. You can have reading and writing proficiency in another language, but speaking requires a whole new set of skills that can only come with talking with others. Joining a local language group, traveling, and reading out loud when you practice your reading can greatly help.
3. Consider taking lessons
When you are on a budget, you might not be willing to spend money on lessons. They can also take time—most are several hours a week, depending on whether you choose an immersive program or not. However, there are some concepts that can be difficult to comprehend without having an instructor explain in a classroom. Even if you can’t take them over an extended period of time, being able to sit in on a lesson every now and then and hear your chosen language spoken fluently can help greatly.
Lessons can also help you make new friends and to meet up outside the classroom. Sometimes knowing others and being able to share the struggles and triumphs of learning a new language can make you feel less alone. Learning a new language is more fun when you have people to speak with!
4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
One of the biggest issues new language speakers have is they are afraid to use the wrong word or phrasing. While speaking your newly-acquired vocabulary can be a bit nerve-wracking, it’s the best way to learn. No one expects you to be perfect, so don’t expect it from yourself.
Make sure you have a safe environment where you can practice and feel comfortable. There are many sites like Conversation Exchange where you can meet some new people either in person or over Skype, and chat in your chosen language.