How To Learn Another Language Faster

Simple tips and techniques to help you learn a foreign language faster.

When it comes to learning foreign languages, children have always had a distinct and obvious advantage over adults; specifically, they haven't been speaking English for as long.Once the rules of pronunciation, syntax and grammar have been firmly entrenched, it's difficult for adult learners to master the gist of another tongue without letting comparisons of the two get in the way.

Comprehension skills are further encumbered by the mistaken belief that foreigners are talking faster than we are, an opinion based on our natural tendency to listen for sounds that are familiar in any way to what we know are English words or phrasing, even if the meaning is completely different.

If you're planning to learn a foreign language, the following tips will make the process much easier for you as well as lots of fun.


TOTAL IMMERSION

The best way to master a new language is to completely surround yourself with it.If you're able to join a foreign study group or schedule a vacation for a couple of weeks to the country where your desired language is spoken, do it!In the first place, it will get you accustomed rather quickly to the sound of native speakers if their voices are the only conversations that you're hearing 24/7.It will also expose you to what the language looks like in writing; i.e., shop signs, menus, newspapers, etc.Third, it has always been my experience that native speakers are more than happy to help you out, especially if you are making a valiant attempt to communicate with them in their own language.Last, but perhaps the most important, the first-hand opportunity to soak up the culture, learn some of the history, admire the architecture, and try out new foods will give you a deeper appreciation of""and respect for""how others live.

CLASSROOM COMMUNICATIONS

If a foreign getaway isn't within your immediate budget or timeframe, sign up for a semester class at your local college or community service district.Courses are usually offered at Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced levels and are often tailored to suit prospective leisure travelers and/or those who will be conducting business overseas.The advantage of a class is that you will be attending it with like-minded individuals who are as serious about learning as you are.Not only will you be conversing with one another and the teacher in classroom exercises but you can easily find a study partner with whom to practice your new vocabulary on the phone, over lunch, or whenever you both have the time.Some learners have also found it practical to take a class with their spouse or another family member and to set aside a certain amount of time each day during which only the new language they are studying can be spoken.

AUDIO TAPES AND SOFTWARE

Do you have a lengthy commute each day?Put those long hours on the road to good use with audio tapes and CD's.You can also listen and learn while you ride an exercise bike, cook dinner, do housework, or even work on your suntan.Don't discount the value of sleep learning, either; simply put on your tape or CD as you start to drift off and allow your subconscious to take over the rest.There are also a number of excellent foreign language software programs that can be uploaded to your computer.The best ones are those which utilize a microphone component which can actually gauge how accurate you are in mimicking the pronunciation and nuances of the language.These are combined with colorful visuals, print text, and self-tests to increase your familiarity with the association between spoken and written phrases.

FOREIGN PUBLICATIONS

The Internet abounds with foreign newspapers, magazines, and political commentary that will allow you to hone your translation skills.Since many of them come with a companion English version, you can see how close you hit the mark in deciphering the story.This is a great way to build your vocabulary, too.If your chosen language is French, Spanish or German, you can also find a host of magazines at your local bookstore.

FOREIGN FILMS

Start renting foreign films at your local video store and see how much of the dialogue and storyline you can follow.In addition, if you live in a region that is heavily Latino or Asian, you're very likely to find network channels or local access programming on cable with shows that are done entirely in Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, etc.Note:Soap operas in these languages are especially easy to follow as the characters tend to speak more slowly for dramatic effect and to repeat key information several times during the course of one scene.

CHAT ROOMS

If you'd like to practice your written language skills, as well as exchange ideas, there are any number of Internet chat rooms that cater to foreign language students and native speakers.Even if you don't join in right away, there are plenty of message boards that you can log on to and get a sense of what the participants are talking about.

JUST AROUND THE HOUSE

In order to converse fluently in another language, you need to train your mind to think in that language as often as possible.When you are around the comfort of your own home, get into the habit of identifying objects by their foreign counterparts.Some learners even find it helpful to use Post-It notes so that their memories can be jogged each time they look at a particular object.Since most people are already accustomed to talking to themselves when they are alone, make a conscientious effort to repeat out loud whatever that spoken thought is in the language you are trying to master.

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