Making the decision to learn a new language isn’t something done lightly. It requires commitment at the outset and then determined persistence to obtain the desired results. It also requires the learner to adopt new habits to keep up or improve the language once they have learned the basics.
There are many reasons why people are learning foreign languages. These reasons range from simple intellectual pleasure or job demands through to wanting to speak to the locals on an annual holiday or getting good grades at school. Whatever the reason a few essential tools can make the experience a lot easier and much more fun.
- Top Most Used Words - It is quite common to see figures such as 10,000 to 15,000 words being used as the average English vocabulary of the mid-teen and that will vary dramatically from language to language. Regardless of what the real figure is, it is a fact that in our daily lives we survive on surprisingly few words to communicate effectively. There are now many books available that list the “top” or “most frequently used” of these words. Getting hold of one of these publications for your desired target language and getting to grips with the words within it, will focus learning efforts on the vocabulary that will have an immediate impact on your ability to communicate effectively.
- Two-Way Dictionary - Whether it is computer-based or traditional paper, a two-way dictionary designed for those learning foreign languages is always useful to keep to hand.
- Audio Books - In order to perfect pronunciation and learn new vocabulary in an interesting and natural way, it is important to actively listen to and use the language you are trying to learn. Audio books expose you to the language in real-time and enable you to rewind and re-hear sections that haven't been understood. They also enable you to repeat words that are heard in order to perfect pronunciation.
- Dual Language Books - These are another very useful invention. There are many types of bilingual or dual language books available on the market. Those for children are generally very colourful and picture orientated with the target language appearing directly under or next to the primary language. For older children, teenagers and adults, they come with the original language on the left page and the translation into the target language on the right. This allows readers to read in their target language without losing the pleasure of the reading experience by having to constantly stop to consult dictionaries for unknown words. They also enable readers to learn new vocabulary in the context of real phrases, reducing the need to resort to tedious vocabulary drills.
- Confidence - this is one of the most useful tools anyone wanting to learn a foreign language can have. The ability to overcome initial shyness and open your mouth to speak knowing that you will be making errors but being prepared to be corrected and learn is one of the best things anyone learning foreign languages can have.