Learning a new language is a great way to exercise your mind and expand your horizons. With every new language you learn, you increase the number of people with whom you can effectively communicate. While this is cool enough in itself, learning a language will also expand your career and personal opportunities. Once you’ve mastered an additional language, your resume will look that much more impressive.
Unfortunately, learning a new language as an adult isn’t always easy. Our brains are hardwired to acquire language when we’re children, not when we’re years or decades past puberty. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn a language as an adult. After all, countless people have done it. All it means is that you’ll have to work that much harder.
When learning a new language, there’s no reason to invent your own methods. When so many people have managed it before, it makes sense to stick with strategies that have been tried and tested. Here are five tips to consider as you seek to master another tongue.
Remind Yourself Why You’re Learning
Keeping yourself motivated is one of the biggest challenges when teaching yourself a new language. Attending classes, studying at home, and practicing with others all require a lot of hard work. The best way to convince yourself to keep at it is by remembering why you were so keen to learn the language in the first place. Having your goals in mind will reinforce your flagging motivation.
Talk To Yourself In Your Target Language
In order to become truly conversational in a language, you need to activate what you’ve learned. You might have a wide vocabulary and all the grammar rules built up in your head, but you won’t be able to effectively communicate until you’ve practiced drawing from the information in real time. Talking to yourself, while perhaps a little silly, allows you to gain this necessary practice even when you’re alone. Showers, walks around the block, and hours spent cleaning the house are all great opportunities for a little practice.
Look For People To Practice With
As much as talking to yourself can be helpful, you really need another person to practice the back-and-forth nature of a real conversation. Try to find someone who is also learning the same language. That way, you can laugh and make mistakes together. When you’re a little further along on your language-learning journey, you can look for native speakers to practice with. This will give you a chance to familiarize yourself with the rhythms and cadences of daily speech.
Make It Fun
Learning a language like Italian doesn’t have to be a slog. There’s plenty you can do to make the entire process fun and exciting. The internet is great for finding grammar and vocabulary games, and you can play simple memory games yourself or with a friend. Once you’ve learned a bit, you can amuse yourself with comedy videos in the target language. By trying all these strategies at once, you’ll make language acquisition a form of entertainment.
Don’t Forget To Practice Listening
Some people master the grammar, vocabulary, and written forms of a language only to find they can’t understand a word when they finally try to enter into conversations. This happens because listening is its own unique skill. If you don’t make a point of doing listening practice, you’ll never manage to understand a native speaker in real time. To practice listening, try looking for videos, podcasts, and movies online. You should also make a point of listening in on native speakers whenever you stumble upon them in public. A little innocent eavesdropping could help you fine-tune your ears.