Learning a new language is a challenge
Learning a new language, whatever that might be, is a challenge for anyone. Easier to be said than to be done, since it requires not only the proper tools to do so but, most of all, the required perseverance to go all the way, moving forward on a steady pace.
Metaphorically relating the activity of learning a new language with running, learning a new language is not a sprint, but rather a marathon. It’s a journey, not a short cut to anywhere. Once you start this journey, you will know the starting point, but you won’t be sure when you will ever reach its’ end (if it is every possible to do so).
Even in your native language, the one you were raised in, is a never ending process. Think about it: don’t you, every now-and-then, come across a new word in your mother language that you are not absolutely sure what it means, specially if is in an realm you are not familiar with?
If this ever going process happens in the language you primarily speak, why would it be different in a new language you would like to learn and speak within?
For this reason, you should bear in mind what is your goal, and how far are you willing to go. Think about these following questions that might trigger you to think about where you stand. These are general questions, so try to see which situation fits best your profile and your expectations:
You want to learn a new language BECAUSE …
- You want is to be able to travel abroad to a country that speaks this language and be able to get around with basic tourists’ needs such as ask for directions, read a menu, ask for food, greet the locals properly by being polite, read the signs, and other related situations;
- You want to travel abroad, do everything a tourist does but you also want to be able to mingle with the locals in order to have a more depth appreciation of the culture;
- Due to professional purposes, you need to be able to read and write in a grammatically proper way since you will have to communicate by writing reports, documents, and more;
- You need to be able to make presentations (business, academic or scientific presentations) in a different language, so you must have a strong grammatical background as well as good verbal communication skills;
- You are fan of the culture and you deeply want to be able to immerse yourself in the literature of that language OR you want to become proficient in it so you can teach that language to others and, if possible, make a living out of it;
- You want to become a professional translator, either by writing or by doing live simultaneous translations (you can make a very good earning here!);
- You want to become an academic in this foreign language and teach it as a second language to students in a private or public college (or university);
- And more …
As you can see, each scenario requires a different depth of language knowledge, and only you can decide how far you want to (or need to) go with it. So take a moment to think about this because if you don’t know what you want to achieve, you won’t know when you get there … you won’t be able to measure your accomplishments.
And achieving accomplishments, hitting milestones is one of the best ways to measure your progress AND to keep you motivated in pursuing your goals.
Tips on improving your language learning skills
As I previously said, learning a new language is not as if you were taking a pill, and it’s done. It’s not a book that you read, and move on. Learning a new language is a process, a path that you shall follow if you are willing to do so.
There is a learning curve to this process that might be steeper or not, depending on your own efforts in the learning program. But once you started, you must keep on going, keep on with the learning efforts.
So what can you do to keep on motivated, improving your language skills, learning new vocabulary, slang, and digging into the culture? It would always be great if you could keep on the with the verbal communication, but in this case, you will need another person that actually speaks that language to join you in this venture.
Here are some proven and efficienty approaches you can do to keep improving you language skills:
- Watch movies in that language you are interested in: You might watch it with subtitles if you’re afraid to loss the meaning of the film, but then watch it again but without the subtitles. This will help with the fixation process;
- Read books in that language you are trying to keep: choose the a subject of interest since it will make it easier to keep on going or chose a subject that might challenge you, you will be delighted;
- See TV shows in the language you want to improve: it doesn’t matter if you will be able to understand everything, the point here is to train your hearing, keep you familiarized with the sound of the language;
- Browse the Internet and visit websites in the language you want to learn more: learn about the culture, the food, the traveling options, places to go, the people, their traditions, their values, immerse yourself in their lifestyle. You will be feel incredibly engage it the language;
- Start writing … it is difficult in the very beginning, but give it a try. You will get in touch with details in the written language that you wouldn’t even think about before being challenged to do so.
- Here music in that language … and try to understand what is being said, the new words, the slang, the cultural aspects of the lyrics;
- Join web communities and make friends online: use the power of social communication provided by Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or any other Internet social media you prefer. Make new friends, talk about subjects of you interest; just keep on practicing the language, improving your writting and reading skills;
These are just a few suggestions that are available out there, most of the absolutely free of charge and based on daily routines you are already used to. If you decide to include just onde single of these options mentioned above, you will be able not only to keep what you have learned in that new language, but you will be able to significantly improve your language skills.
But always remember … the more you practice, the better you get!