By Eddy Montilla.
With the arrival of Internet, to meet and talk to people from other countries is so easy and common that it seems that the world became smaller to a point that what we have today is not the world itself, but a large country where many people with different languages live together. Therefore, now more than ever, to learn a new language is not necessary (as the owners of language schools usually sell their services), but very convenient. Unfortunately, a lot of people start to learn a foreign language enthusiastically, but some months later, they dropped out the school systematically. So this time let’s see some steps that will help you to learn a foreign language using some interesting tips not frequently said by teachers these days.
Step 1: Avoid comparing your mother tongue to the language you are learning.
Students usually say that children can learn a language faster than adults. And they are right. But the reason is not because “they are children”, but, in part, because they do not spend time comparing both languages. An adult has a wider vocabulary than a child, and therefore, he or she has this advantage to his or her favor. However, adults usually spend their time in class, whether consciously or not, making comparisons between the two languages while children just “swallow” what they are learning. Children do not make comparisons: They repeat words over and over until both languages become part of their own experience.
Step 2: Learn basic grammatical structures first.
Grammar is the “skeleton” of a language, and I don’t know any person who can walk without bones. So learn the basic of the grammar first. Learn how to make questions and simple sentences. Make patterns for sentences, model of questions and shuffle them by changing the subject, verb, etc. For example, if you learn how to say “Where do you live?” in the language that your are learning, next time you can use other personal pronouns like they, he, she, etc. and practice later the same structure with different verbs like work, eat, go, etc. Besides, try to learn present, past and future tense as soon as possible because people, in general, usually talk about what they did yesterday, what they are doing now and what they are going to do tomorrow.
Step 3: Get your ear used to the sound of the language you are learning.
In order to achieve this goal, there is only one thing to do: To listen. This is undoubtedly one of the most important parts during the process of learning a foreign language because you cannot learn to talk if you don’t listen words first. Don’t worry too much about the context at first. At this moment, it is not paramount to understand all sentences and this is not the purpose of this exercise, but to listen to words of the foreign language so many times until getting a point where they don’t sound “artificial” to your ear. Remember that a baby does not understand what his or her mother is saying, but he or she is learning during the process of listening. Besides, even though you do not understand all words, by listening to them many times, your brain gradually memorizes them. Once you learn the meaning of these words, you can recognize them better than those words that you have heard only once.
Step 4: Repeat aloud what you read and listen.
Observe that children don’t understand everything, but they repeat every detail and sometimes because of that, they put their parents in an embarrassing situation in front of their guests! That is painful way to understand the importance of repetition. So read aloud and that will help you to understand and pronounce better.
Step 5: Try to put shyness aside.
When it comes to learning a foreign language, silence can be your worst enemy. Do your best to put shyness aside since idioms and laconicism are not compatible.
Step 6: Forget about being logical all the time.
A language is not mathematics and you cannot pretend to learn it in that way. Do not try to find an explanation for every word, every structure that you see: Just take it as it is because languages are a result of social acceptance and conventions rather than logical ideas. It is impossible to try to find a “why?” all the time because it does not exist.
Step 7: Your limit is the sky!
It could sound bitter and contradictory, but the beautiful part of learning a foreign language is that you will never have an end. So there is no point in being in a hurry as if you were participating in The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race or the Tour de France. There are other activities that you can practice and get good level quickly, but after certain time, everything becomes monotonous and boring. You will not have this problem if you learn a language because we do not even know all things of our mother tongue. So, avoid stress, stop being in a hurry and enjoy the fact of being more international by learning a foreign language.
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