You want to learn a new language, but you don’t have the time or money to go to language classes. You also don’t want to have to wait months to use your language skills. So, how can you learn a language fast without access to a classroom?
By following these 9 methods and you will be bonjour-ing, hola-ing,
and 您好–ing before you know it.
#1-Choose the Right Words
Most people think you need to know every word in a language to learn it. This is absolutely not true. Start with the most important words in a language (e.g. “where is,” “please,” “thank-you”), and solidify them in your mind. Learning a language quickly is impossible if you try and memorize its dictionary. You’ll learn more words as you go, and native speakers can always explain new terms to you if need be.
What if we told you that you already know some words in your chosen language? Cognates (words that are still similar in different languages) are helpful to know when learning a new language quickly and can be found with a simple Google search. For example, the French word for “impossible” is the same as the English one, but it’s pronounced a little differently. This makes it easy to remember and gives you a head start on whatever language you’re studying.
Interacting using your chosen language is important to cement it in your head, and this needs to be done daily. However, you don’t have to travel all the way to another country. Watching TV shows or listening to music in the language helps, but it’s even better if you couple that reading it. News broadcasts in a different language should be chosen over TV shows because they have less slang, but either one is still a valuable learning tool.
#4-Chat With a Native
With a communication between countries being easier in recent years, it’s fairly simple to connect with someone whose native language is the one you’re learning. Using Skype or FaceTime for a few minutes each day will allow you to talk with a native speaker who knows the language inside and out. They can also answer any questions you may have about the finer points of learning. Even if you aren’t fluent yet, practicing speaking with someone who is will help expand your vocabulary and grammar skills.
#5-Mnemonics Are Your Friend
Mnemonics is a word association technique that helps you remember certain words using a clever sentence or story. An example of this can be seen in the Russian word for “tea,” which is “chai.” Using mnemonics, you can help you remember the word for “tea” by using this sentence: “I wouldn’t drink that for all the TEA in CHIna.” Both words, in English and Russian, are in the sentence to help you associate them with each other.
#6-Accept Your Mistakes
Language learners often get frustrated when they make mistakes. This perfectionistic attitude can cause them to give up on the language because they feel that these mistakes have stunted them. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Mistakes are the human way of learning, and native speakers aren’t going to shun you because you messed up a word or even an entire conversation. Fluent speakers realize that you’re still learning, and they’ll be more inclined to help you than to berate you for your ignorance. Accept that you won’t be perfect right off the bat, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with your mistakes.
#7-Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk
If and when you’re able to travel to the country that speaks the language you’re learning, you’ll soon find that tourists are easily identifiable by their own country’s habits, both spoken and unspoken. Make your best effort to adopt the cultural and social norms of a foreign country, but pay special attention to your accent. Speaking Japanese in an English accent not only sounds horrible, but it makes you difficult to understand. Use the proper accent from the start, especially when following step #4.
Personal tip: When I was learning to speak Spanish and I wanted to have a Mexican accent, instead of sweating over every single syllable of pronunciation, I simply pretended I was a Mexican. You can picture someone, either famous or known personally and play like you are acting a role starring them. Example, Selma Hayek or Marion Cotillard (French).
Learning a language quickly is a relative term unless you clearly lay out specific, realistic goals. You may be going on a business trip in a month and need to learn the basics of business conversation. Set a goal for every week that puts you at a certain level in that time. When you meet that goal, congratulate yourself on your accomplishment and move on to the next one. It’s the same principle as when you were in school. You didn’t have your final exam without having a series of study sessions and review tests first. The same principle needs to be followed when it comes to languages.
#9-Progress Makes Perfect
No one has ever mastered an entire language completely, not even native speakers. Think about all the questions you still have about your own language and realize that other language speakers have this problem as well. There’s always something new to learn. When learning a new language, make sure you’re progressing each time you use it. Conversations with native speakers in the language you’re learning will slowly get smoother, but don’t stop once you’ve reached their level. A language not used will soon be forgotten.