13 Things You Should Know About Learning a New Language
Expert advice on how to prepare yourself for learning a new language.
Fit learning a language into your schedule and keep your appointments. “A hyperpolyglot once said to me, ‘The best method for learning a language is sticking to a method,’” says Michael Erard, editor of the language magazine Schwa Fire.
Target your needs, whether it’s travel, business or writing. If you’re interested in food, Erard suggests studying relevant vocabulary and practising by interacting with market vendors or restaurant staff.
Skip the flash cards in favour of acquiring new words through immersion, says Katherine Rehner, associate professor in the department of language studies at the University of Toronto Mississauga. “The best way to learn vocabulary is in context and in use.”
Be confident and don’t worry about failure. When researching his book Babel No More, for example, Erard observed that top learners were willing to use a language no matter their level.
Determine your scholastic style. Self-directed learners might be happy working from home, says Rehner, while social learners prefer the input of an instructor and a group.
Listen. There’s huge value in attuning your ear to the sounds of the language you’re learning, even when you don’t understand much of what’s being said.
Set themed goals and rewards for yourself: a trip to Mexico City after your first year of studying Spanish consistently, or a fancy Italian dinner once you’ve mastered a section of your textbook.