This ‘easy ways’ guide is for adults learning a foreign language. If you are learning a language like German, French, English, Spanish, Chinese or pretty much any other language that is not spoken in your country, then this guide will help you. Whether you have a teacher to teach you the new language or not, these easy ways to learn French, Spanish or other languages can guide you further.
1. Analyze the reasons why you are learning the new language
When you work out your needs for learning the language, you can better choose what to learn and do that well. For example, some people only want to learn how to speak or read the language. However, there may be others who even wish to write in the language as well. Research has shown that you need to learn at least 6000 common words in any language in order to be able to converse informally in it. Even with 1000 words, you can easily carry out a conversation adequately and get things done in a foreign country. Here are common reasons for the need for learning a new language and accordingly what you should focus on:
- I am interested in it– Spoken language must be your focus
- I live in a country where it is spoken-Start with some survival vocabulary and expand. Again focus should be on spoken language though you must be able to also read the script.
- My partner speaks it-Spoken language again- practice talking about daily happenings, food related vocabulary, greetings etc with him/her.
- I am briefly traveling to the country– Simply learn survival vocabulary
- I wish to learn and read books on a particular subject written in the language-In such a case start directly with the texts you want to read. You will have to learn technical words. Nearly 30% words will be technical-which means nearly 3 to 5 words in the text will be technical.
- For business– Learn business words and greetings
- For an exam- Study sample papers and books so as to prepare for the questions asked in the exam.
2. Balance your learning
One of the easy ways to learn a new language is to spend equal amounts of time in learning the 4 strands of language learning which are:
- Listening and reading
- Speaking and writing
- Learning the pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar
- Getting good at using what you already know in the language (Fluency building)
If the new language you are learning has a different sound than your native language, then you must first learn the sound systems-either from a teacher or by using Audio language learning tools like Rosetta Stone. Another great tool is The Sketch Engine tool which can give you maximum used words in many different languages.
3. Repetition, retrieval and attention
The secret to easily learning a new language is to use the three tools of language learning: repetition, retrieval and attention. You must, in particular, avoid interferences which can make it harder to learn something new, which refers to not just learning a new language. There is really no ‘best way’ to learn a language-however, principles of good learning can certainly be applied to it. There are many techniques of language learning: Grammar-translation, Aural-Oral and so on. No matter which technique you choose, you must use the principles of repeating, retrieving and using deliberate attention to make the most of it.
4. Motivation and hard work
There are no easy ways to learn a new language- you have to remain motivated and keep at it. Have you seen people at airports with earphones on, looking like they are talking to themselves? That is the power of commitment. You must continuously expose yourself to the language. If you have friends who speak the language, converse with them-email them, talk to them on the phone etc. Make sure you set clear, short and achievable goals. You can also read language books based on your level and target words as follows:
- Level 1: Beginner-Try and learn at least 400 new words with short sentences.
- Level 2: Middle Level- 1000 words with proper grammar
- Level 3: Expert- At least 2500 words with ability to converse and read completely
5. Use flash cards
Flash cards help with deliberate learning. Write words and their meanings on the back side to increase proficiency of language. You can change the order of flash cards to ensure you are not repeating the meanings just out of memory but have actually learned the new words. Avoid keeping words of similar spellings in the same set of cards. Also try and read for at least one or two hours per week. You can stay within the general topic or area or chose a specialized subject. Also re-read what you have already read to build vocabulary, reinforce and develop reading fluency. This is one of the easy ways to learn a language.
6. Memorize through role play and first-language translation
If you have a group of friends who are learning the language with you, then try role play. You can also use first person translation to understand the sentences better. You can also write, memorize and get prepared-talks checked by someone experienced in the language.
7. Use images and keywords from native language
Many people use images and keywords for a difficult word in their own language. This means you relate the new words you are learning with similar-sounding words from your native tongue. Then try and conjure up images to link the two. This will often lead to hilarious combinations to help you memorize the words better.
There are no easy ways to learn a language without any efforts and hard work. However, if you utilize this time and effort with the above steps, you will surely be successful and soon enjoy the thrill of learning the new language.