Last updated on November 9th, 2016
Rosetta Stone markets itself as one of the fastest ways to learn a new language, but what if you don’t have the resources to purchase their software? What if you’re headed to a foreign country for a holiday and you want to commit your resources to the trip instead of to some new software? Or what if you’re a business executive who just learned that you’re flying overseas next week and you’ve never tried to speak the language of that country before?
Believe it or not, it’s entirely possible to learn many of the basics of a foreign language in as little as 10 days. Of course fluency takes more time, but the more you speak a foreign language, the more it will become less foreign! Below are Traveleering’s tips to help you quickly learn a new language in order to effectively communicate when you’re away from home.
7 Useful Tips To Learn a New Language:
1. Start With the Essentials Immediately
There are certain words that every language utilizes to communicate specific thoughts, ideas, and concepts. Take about 15-20 words that you commonly use right now and then find out what those words are in the language you need to learn. Look them up, find out how they are pronounced, and then practice saying them for an hour or two. Every day, add 15-20 more words that you commonly use and practice saying them in addition the words learned in the previous day. By the end of the first week, you’ve learned up to 140 words and how to pronounce them!
If you’re feeling ambitious, take the words you have learned on any given day and make them into flash cards. Visual references of words help the memory associate the picture with the word in your native language and the new language.
2. Learn Sentences That You Think You’ll Use
Unless your native has foreign languages that are similar [think the Romantic languages], then there’s a good chance that the structure of a communicated sentence will be different than what you’re used to saying. Some languages put descriptors first, others put nouns last, and some language have male/female identifiers that are associated with all nouns, or some nouns, or not at all!
Learning sentences that you’ll likely use in your travels will help you in two ways: you’ll be able to accurately communicate a specific request [i.e. where’s the bathroom] and you’ll also begin the foundation of learning how you need to structure the words you’ve been learning.
3. Always Work on Your Pronunciation and Context
The correct pronunciation of a word can be the difference between a successful request for a cup of coffee or the solicitation of a prostitute in some languages. Even in the English language, think about how context plays a role in the spelling of certain words that sound the same, but are spelled differently [i.e. there, their, and they’re]. It takes the human mind on average 7 times to correctly formulate the pronunciation of a word, but for especially difficult words that can require 3x or 4x the amount of practice. Keep going – you’ll get it!
4. Have Positive Arguments With Yourself
The fastest way to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in that language. By making it part of everything you do in your daily routine, you’re forcing yourself to remember the words and phrases you’ve been practicing. Speaking to someone in that language who knows it enough to have a conversation with you in it is extremely beneficial, but what do you do if you’ve got no one around you who can speak Swahili?
You can have a positive argument with yourself. Positive self-talk not only encourages you to learn even more because you’re developing confidence, but it also helps to keep you immersed in the language you need to learn. If you mess up a word or phrase, that’s ok! Go back, get the pronunciation right the next time, and then keep practicing. The more you practice, the better you’ll get!
5. Watch Your Favorite Movie In the New Language
Thanks to worldwide media efforts and the internet, many of our favorite movies are also dubbed in the language that we need to learn. Even better, you’ll get the dubbed language with the English subtitles underneath! Now it might be incredibly funny to watch Dark Helmet mutter something in Russian or have Cary Grant utter sweet pillow talk in German, but focus! You’re learning the language through these giggles! You are!
6. Read a Book in the New Language
When you’re really up for a challenge, pick up a book that is in the foreign language you’re learning and start reading it. You’re probably going to want a dictionary alongside the book you’re reading so you can figure out words and pronunciations as you work to understand just what the heck is going on. Audiobooks in a foreign language that you can follow along with as you read? Bonus points for you!
Why take on this task? Unlike words and sentences that you’re learning, a book can help you begin to understand the slang that every language has within it. When you can understand slang somewhat, you’ll be a more effective communicator, and that’s going to help you on your upcoming trip!
7. Get a Copy of Sesame Street
Kid’s programming is specifically designed to help children learn reading skills, word recognition skills, spelling skills, and other basic educational components. It’s also delivered at a basic understanding level so you can start at the bottom and work your way up instead of trying to assimilate information you don’t quite understand yet. Even if you’re beyond the “just starting” stage to the “I’m beginning to understand some stuff” stage, these kid’s shows can help to reinforce your knowledge and making it more readily accessible.
Learning a new language can be difficult for some people, but with the right tools and enough practice, anyone can master a language to the point where they can communicate. Use these tips to work on your foreign language skills and you just might surprise yourself at what you can communicate to others… intentionally!