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12 Useful Tips to Learn a New Language

12 Useful Tips to Learn a New Language

Languages. It is just a word, but it describes so many different things that help people around the world communicate with their peers, parents, friends and even their animals. Some people are able to speak only one language, meanwhile, some others collect them. But are languages really that easy to learn or are some people just more talented ? I’ve been able to collect a few useful tips to learn a new language, which will hopefully help you whether you are a monolingual or a multilingual !

1. Avoid rushing

Learning a new language and trying to be fluent as quickly as possible can be exciting, but it can also mean you aren’t refreshing what you’ve learned before. Being fluent in a language means you have not forgotten everything you’ve learned along the way, and that you can have conversations without looking for the words in your memory for too long. You should rather take your time, refresh what you already know and enjoy the process of language learning.

2. Use topics to build your vocabulary

In a lot of languages, words can have many different meanings depending on the context. Trying to learn words with no particular subject would be difficult and time consuming. Topics on the other hand, can put you in a particular context or subject which will make it easier to learn or guess words and their meaning and therefore, will help you construct a stable base for your vocabulary.

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3. Set yourself realistic goals

The reason why many people think they’re “not talented” at learning languages and end up abandoning is that they set goals that are way too unrealistic to achieve. Being fluent in one month is way too difficult, unless you’re not doing anything but studying the language. And even then, you’d only be able to read and write properly. Setting an appropriate, realistic goal goes hand in hand with taking your time and actually enjoying every bit of the learning you’re doing.

4. Don’t shy away from grammar

Grammar. This word can be pretty scary. Hearing about substantives and gerunds and whatnots can make one feel quite uncomfortable. However, once you know what it is all about and how you have to use that, it can help you improve the quality of your speech, and you will be able to understand why someone said this and not that. You will also gain more confidence and it will validate what you already know, or correct it.

5. Speak and accept being corrected

One of your main goals when you start learning a new language is being able to speak with natives, understanding them and being understood by them. At first, it will be difficult, but if you really want to learn, you will have to do it at some point, so it is better to start earlier, so that your speaking skills can improve along with your grammatical or writing skills. Now you might be scared of being corrected, because you think it’s embarrassing. In fact, it really isn’t. When you think about it, our parents and family members corrected us when we were children, and we did not seem to care about it. Natives are actually very likely to think your little mistakes are cute. Accept being corrected with a smile and say thank you, it will help you not be embarrassed!

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6. Use music, books, movies and media

Sometimes, we learn new words from our own language(s) that we didn’t know about. We guess their meaning because of the context they are put in. Think about it, have you never learned a new word from a TV show, a book or a song? You can do that with any language you’re learning. Some people have learned languages by solely watching television in those particular languages. It might be because our brains recognize certain situations, because of patterns or just because of repetition. So get your iPod or kindle and just go for it!

7. Learn about the culture

One thing that can make everything in the language more relevant is learning about the culture. It will also give you more things to discuss with natives. History, cuisine and literature are just a few aspects of all your possible cultural interest choices. This tip is particularly useful since it will also give you an idea of what it could be like to live or travel to that specific country or group of countries.

8. Use apps and websites to stay motivated

Learning a language from books or courses can get boring pretty fast, and it can kill your passion or your interest very quickly. To avoid that, using websites and apps can be pretty helpful since they allow you to learn languages while completing fun and amusing tasks instead of just reading boring papers. You’ll find a few examples at the end of this article.

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9. Be regular, dive into the language daily

A lot of the time, when people want to learn something new, either a language, or a new dance move, or even a sport, they think that they’re going to be able to do it overnight, with little to no effort, or without committing to it. That is absolutely wrong. Languages, just like mathematics, dancing or painting have to be studied regularly. You must dive into the language daily if not multiple times a day, to keep the information and make it easier for yourself to develop your skills.

10. Plan a trip for complete immersion

Who doesn’t love a little trip? Complete immersion allows you to be fully surrounded by people who speak the language you’re learning, it will force you to communicate with them in that language, and you will be able to discover the differences between real speech (as heard in the streets) and “lesson” speech. One step closer from speaking like a native!

11. Get a crush on a native speaker

This might sound very crazy, but have you considered getting a crush on a native speaker? Obviously, this is a joke, but it can truly be very helpful. When you have a crush on someone, you want to do your best to impress them, and their interests become your interests. I’ve heard a lot of stories about people learning a new language because of a crush they had on a handsome Dutch man, or a beautiful Greek woman.

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12. Useful resources

Duolingo, Pimsleur, Busuu, Babbel and Memrise are just a few examples of what you could use to get better at a language, but there are also several youtube channels and blogs that can help you with it!

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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