They say that children learn languages the best. But that doesn’t mean that adults should give up. We got some of the translators to open up some secrets on how to master a foreign language. Their best strategies distill into seven basic principles:
- Get real. Decide on a simple, attainable goal to start with so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. “Pick up 50 words of a language and start using them on people — and then slowly start picking up grammar.”
- Make language learning a lifestyle change. It’s always seen that consistency is what separates the most successful students from the rest. Find a language habit that you can follow even when you’re tired, sick, or madly in love.
- Playhouse with the language. The more you invite a foreign language into your daily life, the more your brain will consider it something useful and worth caring about. “Use every opportunity to get exposed to the new language,”. Label every object in your house in this language, read kids’ books written in it, watch subtitled TED and TEDx talks, or live-narrate parts of your day to an imaginary foreign friend.
- Let technology help you out. A funny thing like resetting the language on your phone can help you learn new words right away. Ditto for changing the language on your browser. Or you can seek out more structured learning opportunities online translators recommend Duolingo for its gamified approach to grammar, and for memorizing vocabulary with its “intelligent” flashcards.
- Think about language learning as a gateway to new experiences To some, learning a language has always been about focusing on the experiences that the new language would open up, from “visiting theme parks, attending air shows, enjoying cowboy poetry and folk-rock festivals, to learning about photo-essay techniques.” In other words, they think of fun things that they wanted to do anyway and make them into a language-learning opportunity.
- Make new friends. Interacting in the new language is key — it will teach you to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before you say it. Find native speakers near you. Or search for foreign pen pals or set up a language tandem online, where two volunteers help one another practice their respective languages.
- Do not worry about making mistakes. One of the most common barriers to conversing in a new language is the fear of making mistakes. But native speakers are like doting parents: any attempt from you to communicate in their language is objective proof that you are a gifted genius. They’ll appreciate your effort and even help you. Nervous about holding a conversation with a peer? Try testing your language skills with someone a little younger. “I was stoked when I was chatting with an Italian toddler and realized we had the same level of Italian”. And be patient. The more you speak, the closer you’ll get to the elusive ideal of “native-like fluency.” And to talking to people your age.
Original reference link: How to learn a new language: 7 secrets from TED Translators | TED Blog