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!
Featured photo credit: Johan Klovsjö via flickr.com