Does learning a foreign language seem to you to be an insurmountable obstacle? Despite your efforts, do you expect results? Here are 7 tips to help you do this!
If you are reading this article, you are probably among those who, naively, believe they are not at all suited to foreign language learning.
First, take a deep breath and relax: not everyone has the same skills!
Having said that, you certainly – even if you may not know it yet – have specific skills that can be very useful for this purpose. When it comes to foreign languages, in fact, you have to consider different aspects: knowing how to read, write, talk, translate or, again, remember the vocabulary … Surely in some of these tasks you are better than in others, on the other hand, you can not be clumsy in everything, right?!
It has been shown that some individuals have more developed language skills than others… and so far, nothing new! However, it has also been proven that we can all learn a second language satisfactorily. To do so, of course, the secret is to focus on our strengths and work on what we consider to be our weaknesses!
If in everyday life you think you have a good memory, but then for some reason with languages you are a disaster, the numbers do not add up, do not you think? In general, memory works best when we are dealing with topics that interest us. For example, if you are a football fan, you almost certainly have no problem remembering the formation of your favorite team; likewise, if you like music, you may have effortlessly memorized more than one song. When it comes to learning grammar rules, irregular verbs or various terminology, of course, it’s much easier to get lost. How can you solve the problem then? The solution is simple: adapt your mnemonic ability to the language and establish connections between the topics you are interested in and the language you are learning! Obviously, memorizing the list of English “phrasal verbs” will not turn, as if by magic, into an easy task, but don’t be discouraged: try to orient your learning, always looking for a new motivation!
Pronunciation, at least at the beginning, is an aspect on which it is not worth damaging oneself too much, that’s for sure! In any case, always remember that for others it will be easier to understand, the closer your pronunciation comes to that of a native speaker, or the more you try to avoid the typical mistakes of the foreigner. There are words that are really hard to pronounce (as in German, the nightmare of many students), but this does not mean that there are no tricks to reproduce the distinctive sounds. Look for techniques to speak the language you are learning well and take some time to listen to your native speakers in action: the old Latin motto “repetita iuvant” (tra: “repeated things help”), when it comes to learning a foreign language, remains one of the best tips you can receive and put into practice!
Speaking, talking and speaking again
Listening to and internalizing the structure of a foreign language, unfortunately, is not enough to learn it. The real point of the question, in fact, is to become familiar with the sounds of the new language. Try to notice: who speaks more than one language seems to have more than one voice, did you ever notice? This happens because, learning a new language, our voice adapts to new sounds and tonalities… In this way, it acquires something similar to a new personality. Curiously, for example, foreigners who learn Italian find it useful to use music to get used to our peculiar “musicality” and make it their own! If your linguistic challenge concerns, instead, English or German, remember first of all to “turn down the volume”: your words, in this way, will certainly sound much more natural and less “Italianized”. At the end of the day, however, the point of the matter remains one: talk! Staying at home dumb, watching videos and tutorials on the internet, will hardly help you to have a fluid conversation. Be strong, melt your tongue and practice speaking!
Win your fears
Just as there are people who are afraid to fly, to be alone or to speak in public (even in their mother tongue), it can happen that they are also prey to another type of phobia: not speaking a foreign language well in front of third parties. If you know what I mean, then listen well to my advice: leave aside the shame and throw yourself head-on into the unknown, directly to the errors and combinations unlikely! Believe me when I say to you that linguistic confusion and imaginative accents can only lead to funny anecdotes and laughter with friends! Everyone has made and/or will make the same mistakes as you in taking up the challenge of learning a foreign language, so there’s no point in demoralizing yourself. By the way – and I tell you this in confidence – ALL of us make mistakes, all the time: even the most experienced polyglot and even native speakers make mistakes (even if they are then able to camouflage them!). To err is human and the only way to eliminate, little by little, all imperfections is to learn from them. As they say, those who do not rice do not rosette: only by risking mistakes can you reach a goal!
Let yourself be inspired by your talents and broaden your horizons
Are you good at math, cooking or handicrafts? But then the game is easy! Try to understand why you are so formidable in these fields and adapt your skills to the world of languages. If, for example, you have an analytical intelligence, take advantage of your mind-set and find a way to use it in the study of a foreign language. If, on the other hand, you feel creative, adapt and customise your learning method: use colours, shapes and perhaps small objects, thus developing your own personalised learning style. If you are easier to use the five senses, learn vocabulary through sounds, smells, food or any other means that can help your mind to be 100% receptive. Analyse well the aspects of the language you would like to learn: it certainly has facets that are more similar to you and others that, seen from another perspective, are not so abstruse, right?
Reading: focus on understanding
Sometimes you read a text and, immediately afterwards, you don’t have the slightest idea of its content… A bit like when you look at the clock to find out the time, but you are so distracted that you have to check it again immediately afterwards. When it comes to reading a text written in a foreign language, it’s also easy to get tired quickly. At that point you are tempted to use the dictionary for every word, often check the notifications of Facebook or Whatsapp, whether someone is ever trying to communicate vital information … In money: it is extremely easy to get distracted and throw in the towel! All this, as humanly understandable as it is, is absolutely not good: you are reading, you are reading. Period. The shopping list, the organization of the evening with friends or any other thought that is not directly related to the reading must be put aside. If you think you won’t be able to isolate yourself for too long, do things little by little: propose to read only a small paragraph a day, as long as you concentrate. No matter the theme, the horoscope is as good as the recipe for the apple strudel… Each text is the right one when it comes to learning a language!
DOWN WITH DESPAIR!
Hurrying up doesn’t make any sense, just as it doesn’t make sense to establish a roadmap and objectives that we know are, from the beginning, impossible! As the saying goes, “everything in its time”: every person or language has its own timing, you don’t run away! To get bewildered, on the contrary, only takes a handful of seconds, but the secret to avoiding it is to organize yourself well, so that you can see the results little by little.
By now, I imagine you have already decided whether you want to be a linguist or a polyglot when you grow up, anyway, I hope you have understood the key concept to succeed: learning a new language is not impossible at all. Do you understand?
And remember: speaking badly a language is the first step to speak it well!