As the world gets more integrated, it is becoming ever more apparent that learning a second language is very useful not only for your career but also for yourself. The process of learning another language is very good training for your mind as well as it encourages your brain to look at things in a different way, making it more flexible. There are many ways to approach learning a second language as you will find out further on and bear in mind that the more different methods you use, the more quickly your brain will adapt to the new skill.
The most obvious way to start learning a second language is to enroll in a language course. The advantage of a language course is that you will receive not only professional instruction, but also experience learning from reading, speaking and listening all at the same time. Of course, only learning during the hours of the course will never be enough to get competent in a second language. You will still have to use other techniques to reinforce your learning away from the classroom. An added benefit is that it will add a new group of people to your social network, and you may be able to practice with each other out of the classroom such as over coffee. Planning a trip to Rio? Check out this Udemy course, Fun with Brazilian Portuguese.
Raise the Stakes
In an increasingly globalized world, it is becoming more and more imperative to become proficient in more than one language. Even in America, and even though English is the most universally spoken language, you can significantly improve your employment outlook if you can speak English, Spanish and/or Chinese, Japanese and Portuguese fluently. Employers are continually looking for ways to expand their network. Hiring staff who can speak several languages shows them you can converse with an entirely different group of people. It may also enhance your opportunities to work abroad.
In addition, you get to better understand another culture. One of the ways to learn more about yourself is to learn more about others. Sometimes, you will get eye openers that would not have happened had to restricted yourself to being proficient in only one spoken language. Not to mention, studies have shown that students who studied a foreign language have higher test scores in math, reading and the language arts. This might be the result of stretching your mind’s capabilities. Your brain is a muscle and as they say, use it or lose it. Learning a second language also help to improve your cognitive abilities.
Read Books in Other Languages
You do not need to be fluent in another language to read a textbook. Well written textbooks should be self explanatory and in any bookstore you will be able to find a variety of different styles. Spend some time browsing until you find one that suits your needs and that you find interesting. If the book has exercises, do them on a piece of paper rather than directly into the book so that you can repeat them multiple times and be sure to check that the book comes complete with the correct answers. It is essential to also invest in a good quality dictionary that translates both ways between your native language and the one you are trying to learn. Moreover, if you have always wanted to visit Pompeii, you should enroll in this Udemy course, Speak Italian Like an Italiano.
Create Your Own Language Aids
One of the most popular learning aids for languages and other things are flashcards. Buy a stack on index cards and use them to learn words and phrases by writing on one side of the card in your language and the translation on the reverse.You can then test yourself by looking at the phrase in your language and try to say out loud or in your head what the word or phrase is in your target language.
Go through the stack of cards regularly during the day for five to ten minutes and once you are confident you can remember a particular card remove it from the deck and put it aside. Once a week go through all the cards, you have put aside and double check you can still remember all the words and phrases. Make a card with a new word or phrase on it to place in the deck for each one you set aside. Perhaps you have the Great Wall of China on your list of travel destinations? Survival Chinese for Beginners should help.
Label Everyday Objects
A very good way to gain a quick grasp of basic everyday vocabulary is to use post it notes at home. You can label the objects in your house with the stickers with its name in your target language so that every time you look at the object you will associate the new word with it.This is especially useful for learning names for all kinds of food. It may look a little odd, but it is highly effective.
Use Audio Aids
There are a large number of audio tape course available for pretty much every language under the sun. These can be very useful for learning while doing other activities such as driving or exercising. You can also look online for television shows in your target language that you normally watch in your native language and watch some episodes. With internet radio, it is now very easy to find radio stations from anywhere in the world. Find one in your target language and put it on in the background when you are doing things so that your mind subconsciously absorbs the language.
Read News and Other Simple Articles
Reading is a very good way to learn vocabulary and sentence structure and reading out loud will help your mind see and hear the words. Good reading materials to start with are things like tabloid newspaper articles in your target language as they are short and usually contain simpler language. When reading keep your dictionary and index cards to hand so that you can look up words you do not know and add them to a flashcard for learning later. You should be able to find all these things online with a little searching. The sooner you get started, the quicker you can start the learning process.
Use Your Second Language at Every Opportunity
As the old saying goes practice make perfect so embrace any opportunity, you can find to use your growing language skills. If you have a friend who is fluent in or learning the same language as you, take every opportunity you can to talk in your second language rather than using your native one. There are also interactive computer learning courses where can ‘talk’ to your computer that will generate responses and critique your grammar.
As with anything, learning a second language is all about time and commitment. The more time and enthusiasm you put into your learning the faster your progress will be. Each of the methods mentioned here are not stand alone, and the most effective learning tool will be to use all of them. Learning a second language might be difficult, at first, but it is also highly enjoyable. Imagine next time you go on vacation to a place where you can now speak their language. It will be nice to be able to properly immerse yourself in the culture of that country. If you decide English is the language of your choice, you should check out this Udemy article, Best Way to Learn English: The Experts Weigh In.