Whether it’s because of travel or simply curiosity, everyone feels an immense desire to learn a language at some point. Even more so, we feel a deep jealousy for those who it seems to come easy to…but the big secret is that it’s not easy for anybody!
However, with the right approach and dedication anyone can learn a language. That’s why we here at Yougoz have assembled the 8 best tips, tricks and tools to get you speaking a new language today. So, read on, and make today the first day on your journey to fluency.
1. Start With the 100 Most Common Phrases
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This seems pretty obvious, but a surprising number of people make the mistake of learning the unnecessary stuff first. It’s real important to start with the most common and useful expressions, like directions, foods and greetings, because these are more important for conversations. The quicker you’re able to start speaking with others the quicker you’ll start learning everything else, so always start at square one.
2. Use Mnemonics and Memory Tools
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This throwback to high school is exactly what you need to learn a language. Very few people have the ability to memorize heaps of vocabulary and grammar constructions without assistance. If you’re one of those people that can, we’re jealous. But if you’re like the rest of us, try using mnemonics for conjugations, the method of loci or a spaced repetition technique for new vocabulary.
3. Break the Process Up into Manageable Goals
This applies for any large goal you’re trying to undertake, but is especially important for language learning. The daunting task of holding conversations or speaking confidently in a foreign country will loom far over your head, and it will be difficult getting the motivation to start. However, if you break the process down into “bite-sized” goals, you will have a much higher chance of success.
For example, make your first goal just to learn the 100 most common words in the language. Once you’ve accomplished that, try to learn conjugations (if they exist for your chosen language) for the six most common verbs. By moving one step at a time, the process will feel much more achievable and you’ll maintain much more confidence.
4. Practice Regularly and Consistently
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You’ve heard the expression “practice makes perfect.” This is only half true; good practice makes perfect. So, set aside a time every day to practice speaking, writing and listening to whatever you’re working on that week. Try to make it the same time every day and really work hard during the session. Consistency and effort are the keys to success for learning a new language.
5. Think in the Language
Thinking in the language you’re trying to learn is one of the best ways to memorize vocabulary and be able to converse comfortably. Once you start learning nouns, refer to those objects and places in the new language in your head. Then, start making plans for the day in your new language. Even simpler, just narrate whatever your doing in the new tongue. If you can do it in your head, you’re ready to try it out loud!
6. Practice with Native Speakers
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This may be the most important tip on this list. Nothing provides better practice then speaking with a native speaker. First of all, it provides you a chance to listen to them and hear how expressions, pronunciations and tones are naturally used. Second, they’ll be able to listen to you and give tips and advice on how you’re doing. Native speakers are experts in their own language as far as you’re concerned, so why not take advantage of their help? You can even connect with a native speaker online at WeSpeke or Verbling.
7. Get Real World Experience With the Language
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This is a fun and useful tip; travel! Going to a country with mostly native speakers will help immensely. You’ll be exposed to the language there more than anywhere else and will naturally have to put your language skills to the test. Plus, it will be an extremely rewarding experience when you get the chance to use the things you’ve worked so hard to learn.
Unfortunately, travel isn’t an option for everybody. That doesn’t mean you can’t get real world experience! If you’re on a tighter budget, grab some books, music or films in the language you’re trying to learn and actively follow along. Try getting to the point where you can read an entire book in your new language!
8. Use Websites and Apps to Help You Learn and Review
In the digital age, your best partner in learning a language is your desktop or mobile device. Website and apps exist to connect you with native speakers, help you review vocabulary and try out new study methods. Here are a few of our favorites:
Apps & Websites:
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Duolingo: Led by CAPTCHA creator Luis von Ahn, Duolingo gamifies learning and teaches through techniques proven successful by the team’s own research.
Mango: Learn a language through useful, culturally-accurate conversations and phrases.
Busuu: The Premium edition offers conversations with native speakers, grammar exercises and even certification.
Memrise: An adaptive language learning tool with a fun personality. Memrise offers a wide variety of languages, but has other kinds of courses, too.
Babbel: Select your own topics and practice at your own pace with this comprehensive language learner. Speech recognition technology helps to improve your pronunciation.