There are many benefits to multilingualism. It can land you a dream job or open new horizons for self-improvement. Knowing a second language can even protect your brain from succumbing to dementia. If you are set on learning a new language, here are a few tips to help you along.
Remember the Reasons for Studying
According to Language Testing International, it takes more than 2700 hours to master a language. Make sure your motivation is strong, otherwise, you might be tempted to stray off course. Your reasons for studying should be serious enough, not just trying to impress your current crush or being merely curious about another culture. Write your list of reasons on a sheet of paper and put it somewhere you will see it often. Looking through your reasons will keep you motivated.
Start with the Core Words
Even native speakers rarely use all the words that exist in their language. For instance, in English merely 4000 words are used for 90% of texts. Therefore, there is no need for you to study every page in a vocabulary. Start with the most common words that make up the core of the texts. These words will help you quickly get a good grasp of conversations and reading materials. And noticeable progress will stimulate your further studies.
Work on Your Skills Regularly
If you consider the number of hours needed to master a new language and start practicing for two hours every weeknight, it will take you almost 5 years of intense work. And the most important success factor is the regular practice. You can`t cram all the knowledge into your brain in one day and then lay off your studies for a week. New information will quickly fade from your memory, and you will have to start from scratch. You better make language studying sessions into a daily routine if you want to succeed.
Put Away Your Books Once in a While
If you only use textbooks to gain language skills you are bound to sound like a textbook when you first talk to a native speaker. It will sound strange, and if you learn Japanese you will sound feminine. Broaden your learning tools by turning on foreign-language media. You won`t understand everything, but you can pick up the pitch and tone of speech and even glean a few interesting words or phrases. And don`t forget to turn off the subtitles.
Embrace Your Mistakes
Second Language Research journal debunked a popular myth that adults learn new languages worse than children. It turns out that the fear of making a mistake is what slows down our progress. Kids are not afraid to make grammar mistakes, they do not get embarrassed. Adult perfectionists are prone to giving up their studies when embarrassed. Remember that mistakes are an inevitable part of gaining new skills. Stop worrying, and go on learning.
Find a Native Speaker Willing to Help
The easiest way to learn a language is by talking to native speakers. If you don`t know anyone who speaks the language, try looking for interlocutors online. There are numerous sites connecting language learners around the globe. WeSpeke and italki are both good places to start.
Study the Culture Along with the Language
You can`t get a full grasp of the language if you don`t study the culture it is connected to. Did you know that the Eskimos have fifty different words meaning `snow`? Turn on TV shows and movies, scroll through the Internet memes, and you will get a better understanding of the people who speak the language you are studying. If you dive into another culture you will find a whole new world there, ready for you to explore and cherish.
Keep Calm and Carry on Studying
Seeing no progress after you have been slaving for weeks and months is disheartening. It is no wonder that many people abandon their studies. Always keep your motivation for learning at the forefront of your mind to help you along. Fluency comes with time and tireless practice. Talk to native speakers, immerse yourself into a foreign culture and make time for regular studies. You will see progress in no time, and the benefits bilingualism brings will be worth the long hours spent on learning.