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Eight techniques to facilitate learning new languages

  • The more languages you speak, the broader your opportunities.

    Apart from your native or immediate languages, mastering some major global languages can avail you with exclusive global opportunities. These languages, I call them ‘language of opportunities,’ are English, French, Arabic, German, Chinese, and so on.

    Besides, students wishing to study in the places where the mentioned languages are the native or official languages will also need to learn the languages as they are used as languages of instructions in their universities and colleges. Many of them you have to pass a proficiency test at a certain level or achieving specific points to be able to get admission. Those going to English-speaking countries will need scores in one of these top English language proficiency test bodies, such as IELTS and TOEFL. 

    Though there are various platforms and apps designed to teach or learn new languages nowadays, learning may be a bit difficult especially if the new language you want to acquire is unfamiliar or doesn't share semblance with your native or first language. There are various challenges of learning a second language ranging from phonological interference to vocabulary, grammar and even culture.

    Here are some tested and proven techniques to help you learn new languages with ease:

    1. Learn gradually

    Don’t rush to learn everything at once; it doesn't work that way. Instead, draw realistic timetable and study at your own pace. Organize your study in a productive way that suits your daily routine, but make sure to manage your time effectively. That way, you’ll do better.

    2. Revise regularly

    To be able to master the language, ensure that you revise your lessons regularly. The revision will help you to assess yourself and improve on areas where you are lagging behind. A review can be in many forms: you can go over your lesson and practice in a monologue manner, and you can practice with someone, a language learning strategy that is considered to be the best.

    Check out this article on the strategies of learning a new language gradually.

    3. Explore different modes of learning

    There are different modes of learning new languages nowadays. Explore as many as possible (both the formal and the informal): textbooks, mobile apps, tutorial videos, audiobooks, and so on. Informal learning, such as engaging in conversation with others in a linguistic community, will always provide the learner with a natural way of acquiring the language. Linguistic community is a setup where speakers of a particular language coexist and interact using a common language. Since not all language learners have access to a linguistic community, then the best option left is the formal way - learning in class and books or apps.

    4. Speak the language regularly

    Learning a new language without attempting to speak it is not encouraged. No matter how hard you study, your journey to mastering a language begins when you start practising to speak it. The essence of learning a language is to use it orally or in writing, but not just to know about its rules. There is a great distinction between knowing a language and using it. Native speakers use a language (with the mastery of its grammar), but do not necessarily know or can explain the rules. Your target as a language learner should be both circumstances.

    5. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

    Being too cautious of making mistakes will significantly impede your learning progress. Speak and write the language, make mistakes, learn from the mistakes and you will become more proficient. The best scenario of learning a language can be seen in a child, a learning style that linguists classify as an acquisition as against learning. The whole process is a mistake-making process until he/she gradually perfects the sounds, the words, the grammar and the meaning. If you can model the child learning in a way that mistakes should be your building blocks, then you will develop your proficiency like that of a child.

    6. Read ravenously

    This does not necessarily have to do with grammar textbooks. You read the grammar books when you are studying. What you need to read ravenously are novels, newspapers, and other reading materials (where the language is in practical use) written in the language you are learning. This will help boost your writing skill in the language. Again and again, studies show that great users of a language (writers and speakers) are often veracious readers. They more you read, the better you acquire the mastery of a language.

    7. Listen more

    Listening will help boost your speaking skills. The practical ways to achieve this is to listen to music, songs, podcasts, radio programs, watch movies/TV programs, etc. composed in the language. In essence, listen to and watch audio/visual materials wherein the language is used naturally. Listening should be the consistent activity that a language learner does, especially at the beginning of his/her learning. Again, model the child-style of language learning – listen and listen, then start to speak and write. Do the passive skills (listening and reading) first, then the productive skills (speaking and writing), though reading cannot just come without an input. So, it’s not purely passive.

    8. Look for ways to use the language

    You can do this by making friends with people that speak the language. Use the language to communicate with them using several platforms—emails, letters, SMS, online chatting, etc. You can also join relevant social media groups where you can interact with fellow members using the language.

    Finally, you can also check out these top seven websites for learning English. You can also explore these websites that provide free sample practice test for most of the testing bodies we discussed.

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