Foreign Language 101
Learning a foreign language can be really tricky! You have to learn an entirely new vocabulary, new grammatical rules, a new accent, and sometimes even a new alphabet.
But learning a new language doesn’t have to be so daunting, and your hard work will definitely pay off! I struggled learning my first new language, but now I love being able to speak a language besides English, and I am trying to learn a third. Here are some of my personal tips, from experience:
Personally, I was motivated by the prospect of studying abroad. I knew that the only way it would make sense for me to do so was to master a language and then immerse myself in a culture that speaks that language. It is hard to describe how amazing it felt to step off the plane in Paris and be able to converse in French – not to mention elsewhere I traveled. Speaking the language allowed me to really connect to the French culture, not just scrape the surface.
Find new tricks!
With the amount of material you cover in a foreign language, it is important to have strong study skills and to find new ways to keep yourself learning. For me, making flash cards for new vocabulary words and then practicing putting them into sentences is really helpful!
Use what you know.
Learning new grammar structure, for example, is a lot of work, but use your knowledge of English grammar to help you understand grammatical concepts in your new language. Learning new vocabulary is also a daunting task, but look for word roots and affixes that you recognize to help your build your vocabulary more quickly!
Try to think in your new language.
As your language skills improve, try to avoid translating and start thinking in your new language. This won’t come easily, nor quickly, but once you are able to do so, your language skills will improve drastically.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
As always, ask for help when you need it! Falling behind will make it even more difficult to learn new material. Whether you approach a teacher, a classmate, or a tutor, asking for help will help you improve.
Learning a language takes time – so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Keep pushing yourself and you will get there!
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