The ability to communicate in multiple languages is becoming more and more important both in the global business community and our personal lives.
Speaking several languages in the corporate world makes one more valuable in the market place. Being able to communicate with clients and companies in their native tongue is the first step to building and nourishing international business relationships. It’s a huge asset for expediting and perfecting work, and a solid tool for advancement opportunities.
Fluency in multiple languages will make international travel far more pleasant, enabling you not only to communicate — as simple as that — but more importantly create deeper, stronger bonds. It stimulates the understanding of the interrelation of language, of human nature and more greatly cultivates your open-mindedness.
Here are a few tips for learning a new language in the most effective way :
1. SWITCH YOUR PHONE TO THE LANGUAGE YOU’RE LEARNING
Start by changing the language settings on all your devices: phone, laptop, tablet and so on. It’s one of the most effective ways to remember words, by seeing them written on a daily basis. Listening to Google Maps audio directions will also get you learning useful vocabulary in no time.
2. DEDICATE TIME: CREATE & STICK TO A SCHEDULE
Determine a realistic schedule and commit sticking to it. Learn to treat your language study sessions the same way you treat your appointments and meetings. Staying consistent with your study: carving out some time every single day is the key to success.
3. USE ALL OF THE TOOLS
Take a book you love — it can be a book you’ve already read in your native language or children books with illustrations. Reading the news is also a highly effective way to practice your language skills while doing something useful. You have a ton of free resources on the internet: blog posts, articles, comics, recipes etc. Pick something that sparks joy for you. As soon as you come across a word you don’t understand, try and guess with the context first, then grab your dictionary and write the translation down.
Choose some games you’d play anyway, even if you weren’t learning a foreign language. It can be a board game, a digital game from the AppStore or video games. Anything works as long as you are exposed to new words in a fun, educational way.
Listen to a song you love in a foreign language. Listen to it over and over again. Write out the lyrics, then the translation lyrics just underneath. Memorise one part of the song at the time and sing it. Over and over again. Make mistakes. Start again. Have fun. That’ll improve your pronunciation, enhance your memory, as well as add several new words to your vocabulary.
Watch all movies and tv shows in the language you’re trying to learn, with subtitles to help you at first. Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime all offer many options to suit all tastes and desires. Watching a movie will help you bridge the gap between learner materials and how people actually talk. It can help to write down what you hear, and pause the movie to pronounce it and get familiar with it.
4. FIND A SPEAKING PARTNER
This is undeniably the best way to learn. If you’re lucky enough to have someone around you who is native or fluent, then make the uttermost of it and practice with them every chance you have. If you don’t know anybody who speaks your target language, sign up in language exchange groups. You’ll find plenty on the internet or try out the local university or library. The concept is easy and fun: you meet up with someone on a regular basis for several hours of interaction. You’ll have fun seeing that body language plays a huge role in the process of learning. If face-to-face isn’t an option then use modern technology to find a partner and practice over visio-calls. Communicating with a real person will be a much bigger source of motivation than just being in front of a book or audio program.
5. SET SMALL MILESTONES AND REWARD YOURSELF
If you reward yourself frequently, you’ll be drawn to learn more. Set some specific goals for your learning journey. Let’s say your goal is having a conversation with your Italian in-laws. Break it down into several tasks, starting with: “By the end of the week, I will have learned basic everyday pleasantries, greetings and closings like “How are you?” “Lovely to meet you” and “Talk to you again soon.” Once you meet those goals, reward yourself with something you love. And move on to the next task!
6. USE ALL YOUR SENSES
Some people learn better when they see something written. Others soak up more information when they hear it. But it’s a great idea to incorporate the other senses too when learning a new language. The sense of touch generates surprisingly powerful and long-lasting memories. A great activity to train your brain is to pick up, touch and feel objects and name them. The taste and smell are also great tools. Let’s imagine you’re learning Spanish, and your aim is to travel to Colombia. Cooking some traditional dishes from that country, learning about the culture in the process will spike interest in the actual application of the language. Organise a themed night — still using the example of Colombia — where you can decorate, make things colourful, pick a Colombian playlist, serve out the traditional food and drinks. ¡Qué chévere!
7. AND REMEMBER…
- Mistakes are part of learning — in fact, they are the best way to learn.
- Practice makes perfect, so it’s a good idea to take every opportunity you can find to incorporate language learning into your everyday life.
- Learning a language is all about having fun.
- Bonus — Dating someone who speaks the target language and not a word of your native language is the quickest way to learn a language: you’ll be fluent in a month. And best of all, if you make them mad or do something wrong, you can claim that it was lost in translation. Ha!