Are you interested in learning a new language but have no clue where to start? Don’t worry, there are several tools and techniques you can use to help you along the way. Whether you want to be able to speak to locals while you travel or converse with a fluent family member, these simple tips will help you learn quickly and retain every word.
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1. Watch foreign movies with English subtitles
Watching a foreign movie of your favorite genre is not only an entertaining way to get familiar with the language you’re learning, it also allows you to hear the way it sounds in natural conversation. You’ll remain engaged while mastering pronunciation as well as emotional expression, ensuring you get the proper meaning across every time. Think of your movie marathon as a study session: you can make notes and pause or rewind as you please to jot down words you find challenging. At the beginning of your language journey, you can start by following along with the English subtitles turned on. Later on, try challenging yourself by turning them off once you think you’ve become fluent enough to understand the movie on your own.
2. Use the “chunking” method
“Chunking” is a well-known memorization technique in the field of psychology, and it can be an especially useful tool to use while learning a new language. It involves separating the words you want to memorize into groups (or “chunks”) based on the category they fall under. For example, if you are learning Italian, you can file pane (bread) and aglio (garlic) under the “food” category. Every time you learn a new word or phrase, add it to the right category. You’ll find it easier to recall words if you refer back to a “chunk” that has a specific meaning instead of attempting to memorize each word separately.
3. Focus on speaking rather than writing
Many language courses put too much emphasis on mastering grammar or spelling, and not enough emphasis on oral skills. Instead of putting all your efforts into achieving flawless writing skills, practice pronunciation first. Speaking is generally more important than writing since it will most likely be your primary form of communication during your travels. Also, you can easily sharpen your spelling and grammar skills as you practice speaking out loud by using cue cards and reading every phrase or word you see out loud.
4. Start with the most common words first
To avoid becoming overwhelmed with a never-ending list of new words, start by prioritizing your vocabulary. Consider which English words you use the most in your day-to-day life. Which words are the most practical, and which phrases will you use the most while traveling? Greetings, food names, and essential guiding questions (such as “where is the closest train station?”) are good places to start.
5. Find the right learning tool
There are countless apps, books, websites, and courses that claim to be able to teach you a new language in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Choose the one that you feel would work best for you: if you have a busy schedule, you may wish to consider downloading a free app that sends you daily reminders. If you are going on a last-minute trip and need to learn a lot in a short amount of time, you could invest in an intensive two-week course that is taught in person. Weigh your options and see what would be the most effective and affordable to you.
In addition to these practical tips, it’s important to stay motivated and remember why you wanted to learn a new language in the first place! Experiment with different learning techniques and use the ones you find most enjoyable. You will likely run into challenges along the way, but gaining a new lifelong skill will make it all worth it in the end.
What better way to learn a new language than be fully immersed in a Foreign Country?
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