Studying a language, such a beautiful and intriguing activity, isn’t it? Being able to open yourself up to a whole new perspective of knowing and thinking in a completely different way is of course very captivating, as well as advantageous. So why don’t we all learn a new language? Maybe because it’s too difficult and demanding? Today I’m here to convince you that it is neither with five tips to help you make your learning productive and fun.
1. Study. Buying a book isn’t compulsory but certainly very useful, since it helps you learn the alphabet, the first words and the grammar rules, which are at the basis of any language. You can start to understand, by doing the exercises, how the language is written and discover a little more about the culture of the country, but remember that studying a book does not mean knowing how to speak the language! So let’s see the other methods needed.
2. Memorise. A huge problem when studying a new language is, of course, memorisation: all the vocabulary, conjugations, declinations, rules, exceptions… remembering them is just too hard! So you have to find some strategies: there are mobile apps that can teach you a new word every time you turn on your phone or, you can put sticky notes in the places where you go every day (like the door, the mirror or the fridge) to make sure you have to read them every time you pass by – I have found great success using this strategy.
3. Listen. If you really want to learn a language, you should get used to its sound: use CDs, listen to your favourite songs, watch films with subtitles or videos in the chosen language. It really helps you learn: for instance, you may hear new idioms used in young people’s slang or useful expressions for a trip.
4. Speak. Don’t be shy, this is the time to speak up! Remember that mistakes make you grow and people always appreciate your effort in trying to speak their language. One of the most famous polyglots in the world, New Yorker Timothy Doner, once said “If you speak to a person in English you’re speaking to their brain, but if you speak to them in their own language you’re speaking to their heart”. In addition, today, with the hundreds of apps and websites we can instantly find on our smartphones, it is very easy to get in touch with foreigners. So, don’t wait any longer, start now!
5. Have fun. Try in every way to make learning as fun as possible: if you are bored, you’ll be reluctant to learn, making it less effective. Listen to foreign music, watch films, use apps… even changing the language of your mobile phone can help. As an illustration, I personally really enjoy translating, especially from my mother tongue to the one I am studying, to see if I really understand the correct use of the rules or words I’ve just learnt. It’s something I highly suggest. Find something you love, one of your biggest passion or a topic you particularly care about, and study it in the target language, in order to make learning more interesting for you. So remember that studying a language is not difficult or boring: the important thing is to find a way to make it fascinating and exciting.
Giovanni Lia 3AL