The necessity to learn a language is what we all face at some point in our lives. As business becomes international and everything aims to enter the globalized market, we have to know at least one foreign language. On top of that, opportunities to travel or move abroad are now very popular among the young people, so they want to master the language used in the country they are willing to go to. Also, a lot of students are now willing to get a better education, so they choose to travel abroad and study at the international programs.
However, what can one do if he has no language skills whatsoever? Is it still possible for people like this to learn a language? And what are the best ways to do it? This is what we will look at in this article.
We have searched for answers from people familiar with the matter such as polyglots, international speakers, translators, and interpreters. They all had some struggling going on once they started learning a new language. Nevertheless, they overcame it – and here they are speaking several languages fluently. How did they do it? Here are the secrets they shared with us.
Tips on how to master a foreign language if you do not have language skills
1. Set goals
It all starts with a clear understanding of why you want to do this. You might be willing to travel more and visit the country where this language is spoken, or you might have a friend who speaks this language, and you want to be able to communicate with him more, or you want to watch movies and listen to the music and understand every word. Whatever it is, you need to see this goal and know why you are doing what you are doing. Otherwise, you will lose motivation and will stop moving forward once you meet obstacles on your way.
And also, when you don’t feel like working, and your motivation is below zero, looking at a goal you set is what will help you not to give up.
2. Find folks to study together
When you are learning something with a bunch of friends, it is not only more fun but also more useful. You can practice the new phrases and words you learned with each other by using them in a sentence. You can be accountable to each other, and this is priceless as you are likely to get bored or discouraged at one point or another. And also, if you are a competitor by nature you will get motivated to do more, better and faster than your companion just to lead this race. And it works perfectly well for the learning process.
3. Don’t be afraid to be silly
Mistakes happen. You cannot know the language perfectly well from the beginning. You will find yourself misusing the words or applying them to ridiculous situations. Just be ready to have a good laugh at your mistakes! Do not stop learning only because it feels that you sound too stupid. It is an essential part of the learning process, so don’t get demotivated. They say that kids are much better at learning a new language because they are not afraid to talk using a few words they know and sound silly. They quickly overcome these barriers and, therefore, have more chances to master this art. So, don’t be afraid to speak and feel free as a child. We do not expect too much of them from the very beginning, and they are doing great!
4. Have fun
If you only study the language in question with a pen and notebook in your hand, you will soon get bored with the process and quit. No wonder you will, as this practice is an absolute motivation killer. You need to have fun while learning. It is not only about drilling words and phrases, but rather playing around with them. Let’s say you are learning French. So, to enjoy the learning process, you need to get a bottle of French wine, get a book of poetry and read it while taking a hot bath. Or if you are learning Spanish, make sure to add siesta to your schedule on the weekend, grab a children’s book while having a nap and read it out loud. You need to feel what it is like to be native to the culture of this language.
This is one of the basic rules you need to make for yourself: listening to people speaking this language. Students can turn on the radio and listen to it while working. You do not have to be concentrated on what exactly they are saying, but your brain will somehow get used to the way it all sounds. Make sure to add songs in this language to your playlist and listen to it while jogging, or working out in the gym, or riding a bike. Whenever you have a chance to listen to this language, seize the opportunity.
6. Find native speakers
The best idea for you is to make friends with those who speak this language. You can learn a lot from this friendship including culture, specifics of using the language and some specific phrases from it, traditional food, beliefs, etc. Steep yourself in a subject and try to make the most out of this friendship. However, do not be selfish and do not just be friends with someone only to get the taste of culture. Be friends because you like this person.
7. Put labels on it
One of the most popular yet very effective ways of learning the language is putting labels on all of the furniture items in your house, especially those you get to use very frequently throughout the day. And you can also make a rule that whenever you approach one of these items, you should use this word in a short, simple sentence. Seeing it and also saying it out loud will help you learn the phrases easier and faster because you are using different kinds of your memory here.
8. Use technologies in the learning process
There are a whole lot of techniques you can use to help you master a language. A lot of them are free of charge so that it won’t be a costly pleasure. For instance, you can download an app called Duolingo that has a lot of exercises for you to practice the language. It allows you both to listen to the words pronounced, see them, write them and pass tests to proceed to the next level. And it is suitable for almost any age, as the app offers you an opportunity to study in a playful manner. And also, you can switch the language of your cell phone to the one you are learning. The necessity to go through the settings or make calls with a language you are learning will give you another chance to practice it.
9. Have an imaginary friend
Okay, this might sound weird, but it works. What we suggest here is you talking to yourself or having a dialogue now and then with a person you don’t see. You can ask questions and give answers to them to practice both of these types of sentences. You will also get to practice using common words in everyday life. So, whenever you are walking home alone or are making a cup of tea by the end of the day, just strike up a conversation and “discuss” with this imaginary friend how his day was, how he feels at the moment, and what plans he has for the upcoming day.
10. Set a challenge
Let’s say you want to learn at least 50 words a week and want to use them in a sentence. Make sure to prepare a fitting reward for the hard work once you reach the goal you set. The following week you can aim to learn seventy words and use them all in speech. You need to be realistic when setting these goals, yet this should be challenging for you. This works especially well for those who are competitive by nature. Having high standards to comply with can be a good idea for you to pursue. However, remember that a reward you want to get for all your effort should something you want and are ready to fight for. And once you don’t achieve what you wanted to, you are not supposed to get it.
11. Read in a new language
Reading always helps. You see how words are united in a sentence and what logic stands behind it. However, do not try to get a massive historical novel for the beginning. What you want to start with are short books for children. The language there is very simple, and yet quite informative. So, grab a book or two from a library and enjoy the process of diving into a new culture with a paper friend.
These are the most practical tools for you that will make you a better learner and will add more fun to the process of mastering a new skill.