Brain and Body

7 Practical Tips to Learn a New Language

January 21, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

the word language written on a blackboard

Being multilingual has many brain benefits and is greatly looked upon in today society. Here are seven tips to help you learn a new language:

1. Start with a realistic goal when taking on learning a new language. Begin with 30–50 words at a time and start using the words with people around you so that you get familiar with those words and their meanings. Then try to slowly pick up some of the grammar

2. Try and find a habit in your language studying and time dedication that you can stick to at all times.

3. Practice and try and utilize the words you have learned in every corner of your day. The more you familiarize yourself with these new words or phrases by attaching them to ordinary objects and experiences, the more the brain will consider them as something worth remembering.

4. Make full use of technology. Translators are everywhere — make use of them to help increase your vocabulary even while you are on the bus going home after work. You could also, for example, change the language settings on your phone so that you are exposed to new words where you would quickly learn their meaning.

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5. Always consider the reward of having obtained a new language and what experiences it would open up for yourself after you could speak the language. That could act as your motivation and keep driving you to learn something additional wherever you can.

6. The best one: make new friends that speak the language you are trying to learn! Making new friends will be of fundamental importance for your language learning the ability. It will give you the opportunity to practice what you have learned at regular intervals, alongside feeling comfortable around friends, instead of strangers. You could alternatively also search for foreign pen pals that speak the language you are trying to learn, and see if they would be interested in exchanging letters with you. This will help your learning!

7.  Lastly, but most importantly, do not be afraid to make mistakes. A common barrier to conversing in a new language is the fear of making mistakes.  Native speakers would appreciate the fact that you are trying to converse in their language. So do not feel discomforted by the fact that you will make mistakes.  Be patient with yourself — learning a new language is challenging and difficult. The more you speak, the more comfortable you will become.

Hat tip: TED Ed

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