The Art of Learning a New Language

October 3rd, 2012

Each one of us may not be a gifted linguist; but if you do crave to master a foreign language, then here’s a guide to help you get started.

Learning a new language is not just about learning new words and pronunciations. It is also an excellent opportunity to get acquainted with the culture that gradually created the language. Languages are not something that can be learned mechanically, as most of us do by cramming chemistry formulae. It requires a deeper understanding of each word and its root. Here is how you can master any new language.

Choose Your LanguageThere are plenty of reasons why we may choose to learn a new language. Some of the most prominent reasons are business/professional purposes, education, traveling, or just as a hobby. Avoid learning a language just to add an attractive element to your profile. Go on the Internet and watch some videos created in a particular language. Go through a web dictionary to find out if you are comfortable with the language and its script. Be sure that you are ready to get acquainted with your chosen language.

Choose Your Knowledge SourceThere are plenty of institutes that offer courses in languages. Apart from these, there are DIY books and websites that are excellent guides to help you through the learning process. A third and less popular method is learning through active conversation. Yes, even this method is possible. You can learn a new language just the way you learned your mother tongue. But for that, you should be lucky enough to find someone who is well conversant with your language as well as the foreign language.

Avoid Literal TranslationsHere is a common mistake that many of us make while learning a new language. We create sentences based on literal translation of sentences from our native language. Remember, each language has its own rules regarding sentence formation. Through a literal translation, you might get the correct translated words, but your sentence might not make much sense in the new language. You might even end up creating a sentence that means exact opposite of what you want to say! I am sure, you can’t risk doing that.

Avoid Grammatical ComparisonsJust like sentence construction, each language has its unique set of grammar rules. Once you start with the learning process, you might feel like you have entered a Grammar Maze with surprising ways of changing tenses, applying degrees of comparisons, creating plurals, using prepositions, verb forms, adjectives forms, noun forms, etc. For some, the most difficult part is to grasp the gender associated with words. For example, in German language, every noun has one of the three grammatical genders (masculine, feminine or neutral). Beginners might take a long time to grasp the concept of adding der, die, or das before a noun. That’s why, it is best to keep aside the genders associated with words in your mother tongue while learning a new language.

Start TalkingOnce you are done with the basics, it’s time to shift from books to actual conversation. It is best to leave behind all possible fears of ridicule and start using words that you have already learned. Speak slowly to ensure that you are forming the right sentence structure. Avoid creating complex verb forms and sentences. Keep a dictionary handy, in case you happen to forget certain words. Join a conversation group or online chat rooms that help you speak or write in this language. Keep away all fear of spontaneous conversation and ask your listeners to correct you. Make a note of all the suggestions that you come across.

Improve VocabularyVocabulary cannot be enhanced overnight. You need to apply certain tricks to learn new words and remember old ones. You may start by creating word charts and paste them in a prominent place at home. Another option is to create colorful chits with names of objects at home. Pin or paste these chits to the respective objects to help you remember their names as and when you look at them. In case, you wish to learn advanced vocabulary, subscribe to a weekly newspaper or magazine. Underline words that you have never come across and look up their meanings. Add these new words to your word charts.

Grasp Pronunciations and ToneLearning a new language is futile unless you perfect all your pronunciations and language tones. These tones and expression styles are difficult to grasp unless you watch some experts speak. For this, you may choose to watch some movies or news programs in the language that you are learning. Another option is to buy reading books that come with an audio CD.

Learn the ScriptLearning a new language might seem incomplete unless you acquaint yourself with its script. Most European languages have similar script, albeit with minor variations. However, you might need to put some extra efforts for learning the scripts of Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Arabic, Indian languages and so on. You can get over this hurdle by practicing the script online or by using books and stencils.

Learning a language is not a piece of cake. It requires a lot of time, patience and determination. However, it is quite easy to forget what you learned, if there is a lack of practice for a significant period of time. It is, therefore, essential to stay in touch with the new language all the time by using the Internet, reading books or by writing to a pen friend.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.