You’ve seen Mark Zuckerberg nail that Chinese presentation and you want to be able to do that. Maybe you’ve heard your supervisor in Goldman converse in Japanese with a Tokyo based client. Better yet, you wish you could sweep your girlfriend off her feet by speaking french, or woo you boyfriend by ordering food in Italian at a pizza joint. Here are some tips that might help you get there!
1. Immerse yourself in the environment of your chosen language.
Look, I am not pushing you to move to the country of your desired language -this post would end right now otherwise. Not all of us have the financial or time ability to take such a step. However, there are some realistic ways that would assist you in your desire to master a language without you having to leave your hometown.
Language exchange is the best way to rapidly improve your speaking skills. Look for language exchange groups or find an individual who speaks the language that you want to learn.
Here are some of the Best:
Couch surfing – It is a global hosting community for travelers, but during the weekly meetings you can find someone who speak the language you want to learn and doesn’t speak your mother tongue. Got the idea? Connect with them now!
Meet up – Cant find a native speaker? Gather with like-minded individuals who are learning the same language!
Penpal world – Make friends from all around the world by writing them a letter/skyping with them!
The following names speak for themselves:
– Get a boyfriend/girlfriend that speaks the language. That is how I have learned Spanish. However, the progress truly depends on you- you really have to speak to your partner beyond “Je te aime” “Besame ” and “Ich will dich”. And the best part of this relationship, if you make them mad or do something stupid, you can blame it on the language barrier -” it was lost in translation”.
2. Be consistent
Consistency… I know, sounds boring, but that’s the way to go. If you learn a language 1 hour per day for 2 months you will progress much more than after learning it for 5 months but 2 hours a week. Got it? Create your study plan and stick to it.
3. Be all-rounded
Just speaking is not enough- you will have poor grammar. Just reading is not enough—you will have poor speaking skills. Just…Ok, I guess now, you have figured it out. Speak, Watch/Listen, Read, and practice grammar (as much as we all hate grammar)- if you want to speak the language fluently you have to speak it, read it, understand it and write grammatically correct. Sounds logical? Great.
4. Listen to music
Music is a great vehicle for remembering a foreign language. Do some research-find your favorite artist and listen to the songs. All day. Everyday. Until you hate the song. Or, until you understand the whole lyrics. Check radio and lyrics translation
5. Put notes around your house
Okay.. I admit it- I am a geek when it comes to language learning. While I was living in Germany, my entire room was filled with sticky notes. I stared at conjugations on my mirror while brushing teeth in the morning, I stared at verbs on my door while putting make up on, I stared on my window while having breakfast .. The notes were everywhere but I have managed to expand my vocabulary dramatically while doing everyday things without putting any extra effort into study .
6. Take a notebook with you anywhere you go
Yes, I am a pathetic nerd. But I am a very social nerd! During the language exchange meetings in New Zealand or during my stay in Spain or in Germany I would chat with people; but when I hear a word/phrase which I don’t understand –I would politely ask to repeat it and write it down in my notebook. Later, I would translate it and… Exactly-put it on my wall as a sticky note. And stare at it while brushing my teeth.
7. Start with the 100 most common words and phrases
It is a fantastic head start for any language learning – use 100 most common English words or a collection of the most useful phrases
8. Carry a pocket dictionary/download an offline dictionary app
Be ready. Always!
9. When you learn a new word, try to use it a few times right away
10. Accept the failure
Before you start learning a new language you must know one thing: you will fail miserably at first. Many, many times. You will look silly, you will sound silly, you will be out of your comfort zone. You will not be as intelligent, funny, charming and interesting as you are in your mother tongue. You have to accept it. You will make mistakes. But, only by making mistakes will you improve. Have fun with it and act like a child! It won’t be easy-but do not be afraid ! You will be forgiven for your mistakes, because everyone knows that you are a learner.
If you cannot speak/understand someone – smile and laugh it off! Smile is an international word that does not need a translation 🙂
Photo Credit: We Heart It