How to start learning a new language

It is easier to start to learn a new language than to become good at it, and almost certainly is more fun.

I’ve started to learn many new languages. French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Afrikaans to name but a few. I can’t speak them yet but I’ve started and I’ve picked up a few words and phrases that help me when I’m visiting, and equally importantly I’ve had fun doing this.

For example, I’ve started to learn Italian but I haven’t learnt any Italian grammar, and when I visit Italy I’m not able to speak correctly . Now you may say this is lazy, but we all live in a world where you can hear and speak any number of languages. So my aim is just to communicate at a very basic level when I visit a country, to make an effort, to show appreciation of the language and culture. I’m not trying to talk about world politics or explain my view on life.

So, I know about starting to learn a new language and this is what works for me.

I pick key or useful words and phrases that I want to learn. For example, as a visitor to another country, the key words in a foreign language are the words which will be of most use to you and which you will use most often. These key words and phrases will vary from visitor to visitor depending on the purpose of their trip. A businessman, for example, may have different language requirements to the tourist, and when only learning a small part of language may choose to concentrate on a few formal situations. Or, if you have friends who speak another language, you might learn a few expressions that you can use in specific situations with them. In either case, you are starting to learn the language and if you continue to learn it , then the vocabulary you have learnt will be a great help.

Here is one suggestion for learning common words and phrases. Watch television concentrating on the soaps. This is helpful because the language is repeated again and again, the words used are in common use and you see and hear the same actors each time you watch. This means that you will become used to their accents which will help improve comprehension. Look up the commonly used expressions, which after a while you won’t forget because every time you watch your favourite soap you will hear them.

It is worth remembering that it is easier to start a task than finish it, and the same goes for learning a new language. The better you are at it the slower your rate of progress, as you have to learn grammar, learn less common words and so on. If you are only trying to learn a few foreign words and phrases you will enjoy a faster rate of progress, have more fun, and don’t have to spend to much time on any given language. Starting to learn a new language is a very rewarding activity and an ideal way to begin is with Linguata.

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