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3 Effective Habits For Learning New Languages

3 Effective Habits For Learning New Languages

There are a myriad of ways to learn exciting new languages available online as well as at classroom sites close to you. There is a greater push underway today to encourage second and third language acquisition.. Being able to speak more than one language will improve communication with business transactions around the globe as well as being useful for other things too, such as making new friends, especially in non-English speaking countries. According to Katherine B. Nielson, the chief education officer at Voxy, a language-learning company based in New York City, America’s mono-lingualism had placed the United States in linguistic isolation. Although the US can be considered one of the most powerful countries around the globe due to its power and dominance, in terms of language, it is the most isolated. Nielson detailed that only 17% of the Americans speak more than one language compared to the 54% of the Europeans. Even Professor Russell A. Berman, the former president of the Modern Language Association, warned that the US can be regarded as “second language illiterates”. This will continue to progress if the nation does not act on this predictive warning. Being able to learn a new language sounds tough. For many, it is. This will require much determination and time, as well as 100% effort. However, learning will be fun if one discovers some creative ways to learn language with utmost efficiency. With that, there is just one formula and three basic habits. EXPERIENCE + STUDY + EFFORT = SUCCESS! I am sharing this to you based from what I have experienced in learning a new language myself. I speak four languages including some dialects. This is because Philippines has more than 100 dialects spoken. However, based from my experience learning German, which is considered a foreign language, these are the most important things a foreign language enthusiast must know beforehand. Here are the habits you need to cultivate: 1. EXPERIENCE the language first. This is the first step you should do before dealing the specifics of the language. a. Experience in a location where you learn the best: this can be from the comfort of home, in a classroom, or even in the country of the language origin. Considering the differences of learning, investigate what methods you should do where you learn the best. In this way, while experiencing the language, it would be easier for you to handle new information (new words, new phrases, etc.). b. Obtain the necessary materials needed for learning   For the materials preparation, here are the some suggestions which were very helpful in my process as well:

  • Audio materials
  • Written texts such as downloaded from the internet or buy a foreign language instruction book
  • Videos ( YouTube, language sites)
  • Downloaded language apps
  • Attend a foreign language class, both traditional learning and/or long distance learning

c. Emotional stability (100% of patience, determination, focus, attitude) In the case of emotional stability, you should prepare 100% of patience and determination. for you to experience fulfillment in learning new language. When I was started to learn German, I was already aware of the complexity of the language. With all the umlauts, and even their lengthy words (even reaching four separate words combined into one). What I did was I just watched first some German videos from YouTube, and downloaded some basic phrases. I started memorizing all of them. Aside from this, I listened carefully to how Germans talk and pronounce these words. It will be a plus if you have a fluent speaker or a native German-speaker with you guiding all throughout this language acquisition journey. According to Lucas Kern, founder of Leicht-Deutsch-Lernen.com, “Learning a new language is more than learning grammar rules by heart. You need to comprehend what you are reading or listening to and you also need to get familiar withe the pronunciation. There’s a lot to be done!” He added, “If you don’t like grammar, then don’t focus too much on it. It would only frustrate and discourage you.” In learning, you should have some chances or opportunities to practice it.  The more you practice, more chances of retaining the memorized phrases and words just learned. Anthony Metivier, a memorization expert holding a BA and  an MA in English Literature, an MA in Media & Communications, and a Ph.D. in Humanities, narrated to ‘treat language as something you love and not HATE’. As new language learners, you should drop the word hate in learning. Part of experiencing the language, the very basic thing you should do is to set realistic goals that you can achieve in a realistic way and time. d. Have many practice drills Practice, Practice, Practice, Practice On its negative side: In contrast, the experience phase of learning language will necessitate much patience and a great quantity of material to memorize. When learning, the very first step to do and the most basic thing is to MEMORIZE everything! When we say memorize, just focus first on the most commonly used phrases. This can be searched online. Download the file and start memorizing. Doing this will take you much determination and focus to be successful. Patience is also a key here. It took me several months to catch up German common phrases. So, in learning a new language, it will be the best weapon to have is focus. 2. STUDY grammar and familiarize vocabulary by heart. This is the second phase you need to undertake and can be considered as the toughest. Studying a new language will include VOCABULARY and GRAMMAR. As Metivier stated on smartlanguagelearner.com, grammar can have limitation to its usage if you lack vocabulary. There is a direct relationship of learning grammar of the language with learning the vocabulary. “You simply can’t traction with grammar until you have a large pool of words that you understand upon sight. Think of grammar as the engine that requires the fuel of vocabulary in order to run the car of your mind and the headlights of your mouth so that you can drive the highway of language.” Metivier said. After several months of familiarizing words, I watched some videos talking about the German grammar. With the materials downloaded which contains the basic grammar to the language, I started studying it. Of course, the start was so hard. I even need the help from an online German dictionary myself. On the negative side: While learning grammar, it cannot be done properly no matter how much you try if you don’t have the HEART of learning the language. That constitutes the familiarization of the words first. Hence, you need a foreign language dictionary (printed or online) to achieve this phase. Apart from that, a lot of techniques are suggested by experts, but take note that not everything listed may be your best fit. Create strategies that is really applicable to yourself. As what Kern told new German language learners, through experiencing the language, plus with the help of the dictionary plus your dedication, it will help you more to be a fluent speaker of the language. It took me several months of studying German and experiencing it more at the same time (the higher level). Again, it would be a plus if you have a German language proficient or a German native speaker with you to help you out. 3. EFFORT should be 100% to achieve desired goal  to successfully learn a new language Experience the language first through seeing a lot of videos on YouTube or language sites, reading materials both printed and online, familiarizing yourself to many words and phrases. Ethan Zinho, a member of Real Life English Team, a group who is dedicated to helping people learn English through integrating real-life experiences, compared learning styles done to the mother tongue to the complexity of learning English, which is complicated by its many rules and slang. He said that even when learning the mother tongue, it took some years to master it from writing ABCs, until achieving the most complex skills. This is same with acquiring understanding and mastery with the new language. It will take time to learn. Thus, represents effort. Remember, that you cannot get something worthy if you don’t put much effort to it. Based from what I have experienced, it took me longer time to understand this concept. But, if you try to make some creative but effective strategies which you know you can easily manage learning that particular language, it will be. As long as you practice it over and over again. Repetition of usage has always been the most important tool in mastering the language. On the negative side:  This oftentimes create frustrations. A lot of new language learners give up because there is so much of work and effort in order to have such fluency in the language. “Listen and repeat over and over again to audio recordings by native speakers.” Cornelius C. Kubler said. Kubler is a Professor of Asian Studies at the William College, a former Chinese Language Training Supervisor, and the Chair of the Department of Asian and African Languages at the Foreign Service Institute. He is also an author of several Chinese language textbooks. With all of this being presented, second, third and even fourth language acquisition can be deeply satisfying and an asset to you in your life and your career. With so many great options available today, whether at a local college or through online sources, there is no reason you couldn’t give it a try yourself. Remember that success cannot be possible without giving 100% to it. Try it and enjoy your new skill!

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Featured photo credit: Johan Klovsjö via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

How to Stop Multitasking and Become Way More Productive

Today we are expected to work in highly disruptive environments. We sit down at our desks, turn on our computer and immediately we are hit with hundreds of emails all vying for our attention.

Our phones are beeping and pinging with new alerts to messages, likes and comments and our colleagues are complaining about the latest company initiative is designed to get us to do more work and spend less time at home.

All these distractions result in us multitasking where our attention is switching between one crisis and the next.

Multitasking is a problem. But how to stop multitasking?

How bad really is multitasking?

It dilutes your focus and attention so even the easiest of tasks become much harder and take longer to complete.

Studies have shown that while you think you are multitasking, you are in fact task switching, which means your attention is switching between two or more pieces of work and that depletes the energy resources you have to do your work.

This is why, even though you may have done little to no physical activity, you arrive home at the end of the day feeling exhausted and not in the mood to do anything.

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We know it is not a good way to get quality work done, but the demands for out attention persist and rather than reduce, are likely to increase as the years go by.

So what to do about it?

Ways to stop multitasking and increase productivity

Now, forget about how to multitask!

Here are a few strategies on how to stop multitasking so you can get better quality and more work done in the time you have each working day:

1. Get enough rest

When you are tired, your brain has less strength to resist even the tiniest attention seeker. This is why when you find your mind wandering, it is a sign your brain is tired and time to take a break.

This does not just mean taking breaks throughout the day, it also means making sure you get enough sleep every day.

When you are well rested and take short regular breaks throughout the day your brain is fully refuelled and ready to focus in on the work that is important.

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2. Plan your day

When you don’t have a plan for the day, the day will create a plan for you. When you allow outside influences to take control of your day, it is very hard not to be dragged off in all directions.

When you have a plan for the day, when you arrive at work your brain knows exactly what it is you want to accomplish and will subconsciously have prepared itself for a sustained period of focused work.

Your resistance to distractions and other work will be high and you will focus much better on the work that needs doing.

3. Remove everything from your desk and screen except for the work you are doing

I learned this one a long time ago. In my previous work, I worked in a law office and I had case files to deal with. If I had more than one case file on my desk at any one time, I would find my eyes wandering over the other case files on my desk when I had something difficult to do.

I was looking for something easier. This meant often I was working on three or four cases at one time and that always led to mistakes and slower completion.

Now when I am working on something, I am in full-screen mode where all I can see is the work I am working on right now.

4. When at your desk, do work

We are creatures of habit. If we do our online shopping and news reading at our desks as well as our work, we will always have the temptation to be doing stuff that we should not be doing at that moment.

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Do your online shopping from another place—your home or from your phone when you are having a break—and only do your work when at your desk. This conditions your brain to focus in on your work and not other distractions.

5. Learn to say no

Whenever you hear the phrase “learn to say no,” it does not mean going about being rude to everyone. What it does mean is delay saying yes.

Most problems occur when we say “yes” immediately. We then have to spend an inordinate amount of energy thinking of ways to get ourselves out of the commitment we made.

By saying “let me think about it” or “can I let you know later” gives you time to evaluate the offer and allows you to get back to what you were doing quicker.

6. Turn off notifications on your computer

For most of us, we still use computers to do our work. When you have email alert pop-ups and other notifications turned on, they will distract you no matter how strong you feel.

Turn them off and schedule email reviewing for times between doing your focused work. Doing this will give you a lot of time back because you will be able to remain focused on the work in front of you.

7. Find a quiet place to do your most important work

Most workplaces have meeting rooms that are vacant. If you do have important work to get done, ask if you can use one of those rooms and do your work there.

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You can close the door, put on your headphones and just focus on what is important. This is a great way to remove all the other, non-important, tasks demanding your attention and just focus on one piece of work.

The bottom line

Focusing on one piece of work at a time can be hard but the benefits to the amount of work you get done are worth it. You will make fewer mistakes, you will get more done and will feel a lot less tired at the end of the day.

Make a list of the four or five things you want to get done the next day before you finish your work for the day and when you start the day, begin at the top of the list with the first item.

Don’t start anything else until you have finished the first one and then move on to the second one. This one trick will help you to become way more productive.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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