Learning a new language
Learning a new language is different for each person. Some people pick things up quickly and are practically fluent after a few months and others take forever to remember anything.
In order to learn a new language you will need to incorporate the following main elements in one way or another: Reading, writing, listening, speaking, vocabulary and grammar.
Learning a new language will also depend on whether you are in a country that speaks the target language or not and the urgency you feel in needing to speak it. If for example, you suddenly find yourself in a Spanish speaking country you will have high exposure to the language and probably feel the necessity to learn it quickly as you realize that not EVERYONE in the world can speak English.
Some tips on the best ways to learn a new language.
1. Find a good language school or teacher. At the lower levels I would recommend group classes. This removes pressure and it’s a lot less boring to study with other people. Teachers should only speak to you in the target language unless absolutely necessary. Once you have progressed to a higher level small groups or one-on-one learning can become more beneficial. Finding a teacher who can adapt to your learning style and will also keep you focused is essential. Using a book so that you can track your progress in some way is a good idea.
2. Watch television/movies. The best thing to do is find movies in the target language where you can also put subtitles on. That way you are listening and reading at the same time and it will be easier to understand.
3. Read books/magazines or at least an article a day. Find something that you are interested in and take the time to sit down every day with a dictionary and read an article. The key to reading in another language is that it shouldn’t be too easy or too difficult. You should be able to at least understand the context of the article.
4. Listen to music or audio books. This is a great way to become more familiar with the target language and the best part is you can be doing other things at the same time. You might not understand what is being said but you are attuning yourself to the sound of the language.
5. Find a language exchange program. Most of the time they are cheap, fun and a great way to meet people. The way they usually work is that you talk in English for 50% of the time and in the target language the other 50%.
6. When you first begin studying buy an exercise book to learn the basics. When I started learning Spanish I used "Learn Spanish in 10 minutes a day". It was fun to use and taught me some basic vocabulary. It also included stickers that you could put around your house with the names of furniture and food etc.
A big factor to overcome is fear. Once you reach a certain level where you can put together basic sentences start talking as much as you can. If you want to you can admit that your language skills are not that great. Usually people will be kind and try to accommodate you and talk slowly. Don’t be embarrassed. Learn from your mistakes and move on!