Deciding to learn a language parallels embarking on a far-away journey. When we learn another language, we simulate stepping into an unknown world. The newcomer must blindly tiptoe around the nuances of language. Before you begin, you must be willing to open yourself up to new ways of thinking.
Preparing the Mind
Few people unthinkingly jump into a physics textbook and expect the concepts to magically stick. Not many would enter a sporting arena without practicing first. Before you begin any learning endeavor, you groom certain thoughts and habits. Wanting to speak another language requires firm, unwavering motivation. Incorporating your decision into your lifestyle is a necessity.
- Make a schedule for yourself.
- Tell others about your plans so that they will ask you about it.
- Make a list of the pros of learning a language, like easier traveling.
- Put up a picture of an area where the language is spoken to be a constant reminder to you on what you’re missing out on.
Putting in the Time
Repetition and consistency are key to storing learned vocabulary, sounds and structures in your long-term memory. Think of it this way: it takes most babies almost a year to utter those first words. If you cannot be physically immersed in a language, make do by at least immersing your mind on a regular basis. Taking a break for a week is not an option. Every day, you should practice in some form, passively or actively.
For days dedicated to learning, the following suggestions provide a sample study format:
- Read lessons explanations aloud, repeating the examples numerous times.
- Follow along with the text visually as you read it to target more modes of sensory input.
- Do at least two grammar-oriented exercises that are self-graded on websites like the University of Texas’s French grammar site.
- Try out a more open-ended writing task using the lesson’s objectives, like writing a letter to a friend or a journal entry. Do not worry about grammar so much. Free expression is more important.
- Try out an open-ended speaking task using the lesson’s objectives. Record yourself on your computer to listen back. Expression is what counts; not the accuracy.
For days when you have too much work, you can always listen to a movie in French in the background. Just hearing the language helps your brain to adjust to the new sounds.
Chances are, you have been debating learning another language for long time. If you do it correctly, this skill set can open up doors to the world. Broaden your horizons and deepen your experiences abroad by stepping into the zone of the unknown, even if from the comfort of your own home.