” If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart ”
Learning new languages has always been an addiction of mine, I think if I wasn’t a scientist I would definitely be a sort of interpreter (the type that translates for the Dali Lama and the UN not the one that sits all day editing grammatical errors- no offence).
It also helped, that my siblings and I were trilingual by the age of 2. But for the other additional languages, I picked up as a young adult (in less than 6 months) which threw the myth that children’s brains are more malleable then us out of the window!
Therefore today I am learning Language number 6 = Swedish
And that’s how I start my mornings …..
It is all about discipline and passion. If you are passionate about a specific culture or language you will pick it up quickly and will become disciplined in self-teaching yourself. There is no point in learning a Language if you ‘have to’ or it is in the curriculum, or because you are moving somewhere for ‘work’. Even among natives, your spoken language will be very poor if you are not keen ! ( we all know someone that has been living in one country 30+ years and still cant get their words and grammar right).
On the other hand, a learner who is keen about the target language will be more culturally curious and more open to forming relationships with native speakers.
2. Multiple Methods
We live in an era where everything comes to us, so take advantage of this! you don’t need to move your whole family to Beijing because you would like to learn Mandarin. You can speak with natives living in your city, listen to podcasts, pick up textbooks, have flashcards and skype with teachers from the comfort of your own home. The key is to have different approaches and not rely on one! the variety keeps you from getting stuck in a learning rut.
To hear the language consistently spoken, you can check out TuneIn.com for a vast selection of live-streamed radio from your country of choice. The app is free and has a list of streamed radio stations ordered by language. I also go through the languagepod101 , DuoLingo , Babbel or Language Zen, where with daily spoken lessons, you can learn new vocab each day and record your own pronunciation all the while commuting to and from work.
To watch the language consistently , buy your favorite TV series dubbed in that language or look at native movies with subtitles at first and try to not look at them as you progress . Various news stations also have plenty of video content online in specific languages, such as France24, Deutsche Welle, CNN Español, and many others.
To read the language consistently, try reading blogs or articles online I always start with kids books and build my way up as I go along. An app such as iTranslate is a life savour when you start to understand certain words and sentences.
Twice a month I also tend to have a 2 hour intensive course with a teacher, if that is too expensive or you don’t have the time, why don’t you try to Skype with a native speaker or a teacher around your schedule!
3. Create Goals
If you are going to start a new language set attainable goals for you, like everything in life if you are not clear about what you want and clear about the end result, you will loose the main reason why you did it in the first place!
In addition, setting goals gives you a sense of focus and a sense of pride once you achieve them!
For example for my Swedish, due to my work load I am aiming at
1-3 Months —- Beginner
3-6 Months—- Intermediate
6–10 Months — Fluent
If you have more time in the day to focus on the language you can definitely be fluent in 6 months or less.
And if you haven’t decided if you were the language leaner type, hopefully this new research from Penn State University in the US will change your mind! The team has discovered that learning a new language actually changes both the structure and function of your brain network, regardless of whether you’re 4, or 84!
So drop the Language Gene Myth and start learning!