Learning a new language is like opening the door to a new world.
A country or culture that remained unknown or experienced only indirectly, translated, or filtered by others. Of course, we usually still find a way to understand ourselves without speaking the same language. But every approach in the same language, every effort, every little word, is a significant gain.
Nelson Mandela once said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."
There are many reasons to learn a new language and touch someone's heart. Travelling can be one of them. Living abroad, requirements at work, a mandatory subject at school, or personal interests such as foreign language literature or memory training are others.
Learning a new language is a process. It takes one thing above all: time.
Time to deal intensively with the language, learn grammar, or study yourself. Or time to slowly approach the language in the region itself. To absorb the language, listen, read, observe, and immerse oneself in it. Spontaneous exposure to a language is also known as a "language bath" or learning by immersion. A mix of both is needed, and ideally, both of these approaches are possible.
There is a lot of different material available to us over various channels, and it is worth making a broad selection and adapting and expanding it as you go. That could be books, videos, podcasts, songs, or films. It is simply essential that we deal with topics that interest and entertain us. It would be a waste to lose interest in the new language because the exercises are too simple, the dialect incomprehensible, or you get the same examples repeatedly. After all, learning a new language should also be fun.
The start is the foundation, and there we cannot avoid learning the grammar and rules of the language. Next, we must understand and interpret the language enough to be able to form a correct sentence and express ourselves as desired.
Being able to talk is the ultimate goal for many. We want to be able to meet people in their language. There is a rich vocabulary in any foreign language with many words that even natives rarely use in everyday conversations. For a start, let's focus on the most important ones. There are lists available on the Internet with the most common words, and we can also keep our list with new words or create digital flashcards and repeat them regularly.
Smartphones connect us, taking over many functions in everyday life. For example, language learning apps help us take a short language lesson regularly and playfully. This way, we can use our spare time in our days, and instead of the usual click on the social media app, we open the learning app. If you find this difficult, it may also help to swap the positions of the apps on your smartphone and try to trick your habit.
The consistency of practicing the language sometimes every day makes a big difference. In the beginning, it is maybe 10 minutes, then 20, then 30, and if we then dedicate an hour every day to the new language, we quickly get better and notice progress.
We can experience the language in different ways. We want to "consume" the new language as often as possible and get our ears and eyes used to it. We listen to songs, follow a podcast or even a local radio station. We can watch many videos on the Internet for free, be it learning tutorials, movies, news, or any other topic that may interest us. Suppose we do this as often as possible. In that case, the language becomes more and more integrated with our everyday life, and we learn almost without noticing and expand our understanding and vocabulary.
The learning material should be superior to our current language level to challenge ourselves enough and not get bored with what we already know so that we can understand the context, be pleased with the knowledge we already have, and be encouraged to learn something new. For example, watch movies in the original language with subtitles, listen to songs with the lyrics, or use children's books or Disney movies. The plot is more straightforward, the dialogues shorter and language-neutral, and easier to understand.
In the beginning, it is also enough for us to concentrate on the most important tenses and practice them in real examples. We start with the first person of common verbs and conjugate them in the 2-3 most common tenses before moving on to other grammatical forms. It is essential to speak about natural and everyday situations to understand and remember.
When writing, we can use many tools online. For example, translation tools or spelling correction can help us write words correctly. It is ideal to have a language partner who corrects us, whether in writing or orally. This exchange can be found as a language tandem online on learning platforms, with like-minded people in social media groups or even at a language exchange, as many cities often organize them.
As a final tip, variety is very crucial. It is not one or the other, but language learning takes place in different fields simultaneously. With a stay in the respective language region, you can, of course, combine and benefit a lot. Total immersion is then almost guaranteed and very rewarding. Fortunately, for all those who cannot go away, we can also "simulate" and bring the foreign world to our homes thanks to the Internet.
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