Learning a language is always useful. This is perhaps the one thing that will always benefit you. Whether you learn it because of a college course or a job interview, being bilingual can take you places.
Benefits of Learning a Second Language:
Language learning has many benefits. We have listed some of them below!
1. It’s good for Your Brain:
A study was conducted about the effects of learning a second language. In many studies, it was found that the ability to speak another language is actually good for your mental health.
It improves memory, problem-solving skills, and concentration. Learners always develop better listening skills and are better at handling multiple tasks at the same time.
Being bilingual also helps slow down the cognitive decline that happens with age.
2. A Bright Future:
When you learn a new language, you are increasing your chances of getting more jobs.
When we say the world has become a global village, we mean it. The world is no longer an isolated place where you cannot communicate with people across the continents. Globalization has increased the value of people who can speak multiple languages. Most of the jobs these days require the person to be able to communicate with people around the world.
Learning a foreign language also means that you can apply in a foreign country with ease!
3. Improved Traveling Experience:
It is always handy when you know a foreign language when you are traveling. A bilingual will have a different experience when he is traveling abroad than a person who can speak only one language.
You may have noticed that shopkeepers and cab drivers charge tourists more. That is because the foreigners seldom know the language and cannot negotiate with the other person. Knowing the native language means that you can ask locals to guide you about the rates and the best tourist spots in the area.
4. Better Understanding of Culture:
It is said that if you want to understand a culture, better start with the language. Language is the first thing man invented in order to communicate and survive. A language can tell you a lot about a region’s history and culture.
When you are able to communicate with people from different countries, you can have a better understanding of the world. You become more accepting of the differences that people share, which is always an enlightening experience.
How to Learn a Language Faster?
Learning a second language is different. The time it takes you to learn the language depends on a couple of circumstances and strategies. Here are a few golden rules that will help you learn the language in a short time.
1. Get a Tutor or Join a Course:
The first step to take, when you want to learn a new language, is getting help. A professional will be better equipped to help you learn the language. If you start on your own, language learning will be possible, but difficult. A tutor will be able to guide you and give you a direction in which you should move.
Joining a language class is always the best option. But even if you cannot join a language class because of personal reasons, there are still ways to get professional help. There are a number of websites and language teachers that offer their teaching services. These people can teach you virtually; all you need is a laptop/mobile phone. With the help of Skype, you can learn a new language without being affected by your location or time zone.
2. Figure Out Why You Are Leaning a New Language:
If you set a target for yourself, which is too vague, it will create complications for you. Ask yourself, what do you want to do? Do you want to apply for a job? Are you studying because of your school/college syllabus? Is your drive purely based on your passion for learning a new language? These questions matter because their answer will affect the way you approach a language.
The reason behind your learning will be able to tell you what areas you should focus on. If you want to apply for a job in a foreign country, you will need to work on your speaking skills. If you are studying for an exam, then you will need to work on your writing skills.
If you want to improve your writing skills, but instead you are devoting your time to learn the pronunciations and phonetics, you will end up wasting your time, and it will take you longer to achieve the required result you are hoping for.
3. Divide Your Journey into Stages:
After you have figured out why you want to learn a language, you need to divide your journey into portions.
Here is a simple example to help you understand the concept. If a man is standing at point A and needs to travel to point E, he will need to go through points B, C, and D, respectively. If he doesn’t follow the route, and instead, tries to jump to the point E by skipping the middle destinations, he will get lost. It will take the traveler more time, and he may not even get to the final destination at all.
Your language journey is no different because you need to follow a set path.
4. Be Ambitious and Practical:
In the beginning, you will feel like you can do anything you want to, even if that means learning a language in a month. Your limit is indeed the stars, but the time you take to get there should be humanly possible.
When we say that you have to be ambitious yet practical, it means that your goals should not be too easy, or too difficult. If you achieve your goals without putting effort, it will make you lazy. You will get bored and won’t try hard enough. Soon, your passion for learning will fade away.
When the target is too hard to achieve, it will discourage you, and that is the last thing any student needs. Set goals that can keep you interested, and you also don’t get stuck in a rut.
5. Act Like a Child:
There is a popular theory that believes that children are better learners as compared to adults. That directly implies that it is because of age. While the theory is correct, the reason behind it is not.
Children are not better at language acquisition because they have better cognitive abilities. Children are competent learners because they don’t drown in self-consciousness. On the other hand, adults care too much about their image and how other people see. This might seem like a small thing, but in reality, it can really hinder your progress.
A child will ask questions about the things that confuse him and use his skills without any fear. An adult will prefer not to speak in the second language because he is scared people will judge him. This fear alone can be a huge disadvantage. It means you are not willing to speak. Hence, you cannot practice anymore. How can you learn a language if you don’t practice speaking in it?!
6. Find a Partner:
The best way to learn is by finding someone that is going through the same journey as you. Children have a better chance of learning something in a classroom environment. Students are recommended to study in groups because it improves their learning. By learning in twos or threes, there is a better chance of absorbing new information.
Learning with a fellow learner also gives you a chance to discuss things that confuse you. You can also ask your partner to practice the language with you. There is a benefit in this technique for both learners, so it is a win-win!
7. Enjoy the Process:
Do not be overwhelmed by the process as it will discourage you.
Learning and speaking a new language is an art if you can learn its tricks. Find fun and exciting ways to learn. There are apps available on mobile phones that promise to teach the learners in the most natural ways possible. Solve puzzles related to the target language and take visual help to learn the vocabulary.
8. Adopt the Right Strategy:
It is essential to adopt the right strategy when it comes to learning anything, whether it is language or something else.
Every language has a set of words that are commonly used. It is said that if you can learn those words, you can easily communicate in the target language. For instance, if a person is learning a language because he is moving abroad, all he needs is a basic set of skills to communicate. Learning basic words can enable him to communicate with the native speaker.
If the same person spends his time focusing on grammar, he will get nowhere. You can communicate without the correct grammar, but if you don’t have a rich vocabulary, you won’t be able to form a simple sentence.
9. Listen Carefully:
Whatever time you have, utilize it. Whether you are in a train going to work/college or going to the grocery store, every minute matters.
Listening is the best way you can acquire a language. This is how children learn their first language as well. You should download podcasts, TV shows, radio shows and songs in the native language. Listen to these audios whenever you have time, and you will not regret it.
Listening also improves your pronunciation. You can also watch movies as you will be listening to native speakers. You will have an added benefit if you have access to the subtitles. Note down the words that you don’t understand and later find out their meaning. The next time you watch the show/movie, consult your diary with the meanings. This strategy will help you learn more!
One thing you should never stop is practice! The more you practice, the better you will become. It is a universal law! Achieving greatness means that you have to do the task again and again until you find perfection.
Try to speak in your second language whenever you get the chance. People who live abroad are presented with the perfect opportunity where they can practice with the native speakers at their working place or even cafes.
If you cannot find a native speaker, hire one. There are people ready to help you speak in your target language, and they charge reasonable rates.
11. Talk to Yourself:
The person you spend the most time with is yourself. That means that whether it is day or night, holiday or working day, you can always count on you!
Talk to yourself in a foreign language. Speaking with yourself is actually a great trick to gain confidence. A lot of talk-show hosts and actors have the habit of talking when they are alone; it strengthens their command over speech. That way, the next time you are faced with another person, you will not hesitate or shy away.
It is also a great way of practice. As we mentioned above, practice is one of the major keys to learning a language fast. Whether you can find a native speaker or not, you will always have the option of speaking in the target language when you are alone. And guess what? That works for a lot of learners!
12. Stay Motivated and Have Faith:
Whatever happens, do not get overwhelmed by this journey. Anything you do will take time and hard work but never lose hope. Just because you cannot see the progress doesn’t mean it is not there.
Many people get disheartened by their small level of progress when they should feel the opposite. Progress, no matter how small or large, will always matter. Things take time, and you need to be patient. You cannot learn a new language in the matter of a few weeks, no matter what you do. If you want your learning to be efficient, you have to give your brain time to acquire it.
Learning a new skill is always overwhelming. In the same way, learning a new language is always hard work, but all you need is determination, strategy, and practice!
About the Author: After graduating in Industrial Engineering in 2007, from day one, Marcel has been working as a freelance writer, digital marketer, and business trainer. He’s very much into foreign cultures and learning languages and enjoys leaving his office for backpacking and hiking trips in the countryside. Together with his team, he blogs about teaching English as a foreign language on JIMMYESL.