Through the depths of high school classes, comes the decision to take an elective. Besides more job opportunities or a chance to travel outside the country, you will be embarking on the long journey that involves learning a language. My days at my high school French class required both stamina and the discipline of my other classes. However, I loved every moment from listening to the music of Edith Piaf to stumbling on my less than perfect French pronunciation. My experience has also equipped me with techniques on how to not only make learning a language easier, but also enjoyable. If you’re looking for some guidance, here are my tips on learning a second language.
Choose A Language Of Your Interest
Is there a language you are drawn to? Maybe you always had a love of Spanish music. Or perhaps you always liked reading manga. If you’re studying a language, you want to have an inkling on interest. You are investing a lot of your time as it is, so why not immerse yourself into the language of your choosing. It is beyond learning how to communicate; you are also diving into the culture.
Study Outside the Classroom
Although your teachers will instruct you to practice through homework, there is much more to it. If you would like to truly master the language, make it a priority to set aside practice. This can involve making flashcards to review on your commute, listening to audio recording of said language, etc. You want to make sure that you are incorporating exposure to either listening, speaking, or writing the language throughout the day.
Set Goals You Want Achieve
What do would you like to take away from the class/lesson? If you are a beginner, this may become clearer once you become familiar with language. Furthermore, as you advance there will specific goals you would like to achieve. Some of these could include better communication with family and/or friends, traveling to another country, or better opportunities in your desired job field. Once you become more fluent, the more motivation you’ll gain to achieve these goals.
Buy A Pocket Dictionary
I strongly recommend this step. Why? Lessons and/or classes will expose as much vocabulary as they can to you. But they can’t cover every word. There will be a time where you wish you knew a specific term for a topic or conversation in mind. Yes, we live in a time where Google exists. Nevertheless, the pocket dictionary will be 100% accurate without the worry of misinformation. (Plus, you can use it class).
Pick Up Conversation With Others
At first, this can intimidating. In my experience, I was shy about practicing my Italian in front of family members. Regardless, it is important to practice your conversational skills. It was not until I decided to assist Italian customers at my retail jobs and enforce me to use the language outside the classroom. This truly tested whether I can communicate in a foreign language. You might not be perfect, but the more you use it the better you will become!
Take Advantage of Language Learning Apps
Although our lessons can be a great source of learning, there are great online tools designed for language assessment. Using apps such as Duolingo and Memrise are not only convenient, but makes learning a lot more engaging. This can be an added supplement to your studies and aid in enhancing your vocabulary skills. In my personal use, it made speaking exercises enjoyable and less intimidating.
Watch Foreign Films & TV
We generally absorb information quicker through visual and auditory practice. Watching foreign films, TV shows, or listening to music in another language can assist you in learning language exceptionally well. Not only are you paying closer attention to dialogue, but you are simultaneously translating by reading English subtitles. The same applies to reading translated lyrics to a song. Time to use your scheduled K-dramas or Spanish soap operas to good use!
The most important tip of all; stay motivated! Most students will say that taking a second language is both difficult and rewarding. Of course this is true. The transition to our regular English language to learning a whole new system of grammar and pronunciation can be alarming. Remember that is meant to challenge you, and the ability to speak whatever language you choose will outweigh all your fears. Use your online tools, practice outside class, and encourage yourself to speak. You may fumble on your words at first, but you can only get better!
If you are looking to pick up a foreign language, you will not regret it. Taking French in high school has allowed me to experience a culture other than my own. It helped me break out of my shell and try something new. Whether you decide to take a Spanish class or a lesson in Chinese, you will feel accomplished knowing you expanded your communication skills. Hopefully, these tips will aid in your journey ahead. Best of Luck!
Alessandra Lanno considers herself both an avid reader and writer. Born and raised in