Tips for learning

6 Tips for Learning a New Language

When you’re looking to learn a language where to begin seems like a momentous task, and it can seem very frightening to figure out where you will start.

In some ways it’s like dipping your toe into the sea, it looks alluring, but once you’ve done it, the water is ice cold and your natural instinct is to retreat.

So, here are some tips for language learning:

Five to Thirty Minutes a Day

When you are moving to another country that has a language very different to your native language it can be very difficult to begin with. If you are planning the move and it is in the not-so-distant future then you may want to begin by taking a small amount of time out of each day, five to thirty minutes to begin learning that language.

It has been shown that spaced repetition is an effective learning technique. It is suggested that by learning a word or phrase once per day over the course of five days is more effective than learning or reviewing the word five times in the same day.

Spaced repetition involved increasing the intervals between each review of the previously learned word, meaning you will be more likely to remember it.

Utilise Your Smartphone!

Nowadays everyone seems to have smartphones they can’t stop staring at, so why not take advantage of the hours a day you might spend looking at your phone to improve your language learning?

You could opt for something as simple as downloading an app, such as Duolingo onto your smartphone. A lot of these take the form of games or flashcards that utilise the spaced repetition technique.

You could also download an app called HelloTalk that is a language exchange, in which you will get paired with someone that is a native speaker in the language you wish to learn and they will want to learn your language.

You could also sign up for a language course, which is another thing you will be able to do from your smartphone in the comfort of your own home.

Key Phrases

Focus on using key phrases you will need to use daily. Phrases such as:

  • ‘Hello, my name is…’
  • ‘Please’
  • ‘Thank you’
  • ‘Where is the…?’

These phrases will be extremely helpful for you on your language learning journey, as they open the door to you increasing your grasp on the language and will enable you to begin to interact with native speakers.

Learn the Alphabet

If you are moving to another country that has a very different alphabet system than yours, one of your first steps should be to learn the alphabet.

This will help you out tremendously, especially if you come across some words that are cognates/loan words, such as 레몬, Korean for ‘lemon’, which is pronounced lemon.

So, by being able to read the word, and sound it out, you may already know the word!

Make Use of Native Speakers

Isolating yourself in terms of learning a language, especially if you want to learn quickly, is not effective. While self-study is important, it is essential you are able to get out there and practise your speaking.

Make use of native speakers, either after you have moved abroad by mixing with the locals or make use of language exchange applications on your computer or phone prior to your departure.

Native speakers will be extremely helpful in correcting your pronunciation or helping you with phrases that would sound more natural in the language. They will essentially help you in your quest to speak like a native!

Make use of Video Content

Another extremely useful form to utilise in your language learning journey is video content.

YouTube is full of helpful videos for language learning, especially if you need to focus on your pronunciation, or if you want to watch something rather than stare at a book.

Here is a YouTube video I found particularly useful for learning Hangul, the Korean alphabet.

Another useful form of media to use are television shows or films in the language you are wishing to learn. It can be very helpful for both gaining an understanding of the culture and train yourself to listen to the language and get used to how fast native speakers tend to speak!

Practise! Practise! Practise! 

Like anything, you will only get better with practise, so maintain a steady pace when learning. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much or expect too much of yourself to begin with. Take your time and don’t give up!

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