4 easy tips for mastering a new language
The prospect of learning a new language can be intimidating, but you might be surprised at how easy it can be to get a good solid start on it. As you advance, you’ll probably find that the closer you get to fluency, the easier it is to keep improving.
If you’re not sure where to begin, in order to master your new language, here are a few things that were absolutely essential to me as I learned Spanish:
1. Having a solid grasp of basic verbs before I started having real conversations.
Learning by ear is possible, but accents can be tricky, and if you start off by just imitating what you hear, you’ll end up having to unlearn a lot of mistakes. Start off with writing and reading, and then incorporate speaking once you’ve gotten some confidence.
2. Getting as much exposure to the new language as possible.
If you’re a beginner, try taping vocabulary lists to the bathroom mirror, or put labels in Spanish on common household objects. Watch movies and videos with subtitles set to your target language, or even find dubbed versions. If it’s in the language you’re learning, it counts!
3. Asking people to speak more slowly.
This is probably the least glamorous part about learning a new language, but it definitely pays off. I’ve picked up a huge part of my vocabulary just by explaining to native speakers that I’m learning Spanish, and asking them to slow down so I can understand them. Most people, especially those in Latin-American countries, are very accommodating and will make sure they talk slowly and simply.
4. Talking with someone who’s a native speaker of your target language.
This may seem like a big step, but you’ll need practical experience if you want to really achieve fluency. If you aren’t able to meet someone in person, try searching online. You should be able to find a native speaker who will help you practice in exchange for helping them with their English. If you’re going to dive into the deep end by visiting or moving to the country whose language you’re learning, so much the better!
Mastering a new language is one of the most rewarding things you can do. You don’t have to be fluent in order to start using your new skills, as even the most elementary sentences can be helpful. During any given part of the process you’ll discover different cultures, learn to think from new perspectives, and probably make a few friends along the way.
And remember: persistence pays off. You got this!