You would like to learn a language quickly because you are passionate about traveling, you like to discover new cultures and share with locals when you travel. The only catch… you don’t speak the local language. This can be quite frustrating during your travel experience. In this article, I share with you my experience of language learning and give you some tips on effective methods to learn a language quickly.
Since my childhood I have always been curious and attracted to foreign cultures. I grew up surrounded by people of foreign origins which allowed me to “pick up” vocabulary words here and there in Creole, Arabic, Lingala, Portuguese. I was fascinated by cultural differences, so my interest in foreign languages was revealed very early on.
Learning a language can seem long at first and you despair, you wish it would go faster. In order to become fluent in a new language, it takes time. That said, it is possible to progress very quickly if you have a goal and stay consistent. It all depends on your level of involvement and the complexity of the language. Personally, during my learning period, I dedicated at least one hour a day, alternating methods to obtain good results.
The definition of his motivations is also crucial. Do you want to learn a language (e.g. English) to develop your professional career? To be able to speak with a beautiful foreigner you have met? Or to communicate with people in the countries you visit? Whatever the reason, you will be more effective if you have a goal that you are passionate about.
From my experience, I can tell you that falling into a routine literally kills motivation. In order to progress quickly, it is imperative to vary the pleasures. There is not one but several methods to learn a language quickly. You will find in this article all the methods and tips on what to do and what I have put into practice to become trilingual.
LEARN THE BASICS
Even if I’m not a fan of purely academic approaches, I have to admit one thing. To start a new language from scratch, you have to at least learn the vocabulary, a few grammar rules, and basic expressions. That said, learning the basics doesn’t necessarily mean sticking your nose in a book.
VIDEOS AND PODCASTS
Some feel more comfortable with books, others with audio such as YouTube videos. In fact, if you think about it, we learned to speak and understand long before we learned to read… This is proof that languages can be learned by ear!
My husband, a Dominican, has made a lot of progress in French thanks to this learning method. I think it’s a good way because you work on both aspects: listening and writing. This will allow you to retain simple words with the right accent and pronunciation.
Rosetta Stone, Babbel, Duolingo, mosalingua, many good applications have appeared in recent years. Some of them are free, others are not. These online courses (you will need an internet connection) allow you to start from scratch and gradually increase your level.
Personally, I have used Rosetta Stone a lot for English and Portuguese. It is an excellent learning technique to learn a new language quickly. The principle of learning is through repetition of words and phrases. By combining vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and writing, the result is much more impactful than if you learn from a book. The method can be tiring, that’s why you have to vary with other learning sources to avoid demotivation.
TOTAL IMMERSION, YES, BUT ON ONE CONDITION…
In order to improve you have to speak the language. The most effective way to learn a language quickly is immersion. If you have the opportunity to go and live abroad for a few months in a country that speaks the language you are interested in, this is obviously ideal.
You are totally out of your comfort zone, you are in any case obliged to speak the language of the country if you wish to communicate. You read in the language, you listen to the language, you even dream in the language (if I swear!). However, you really have to set a golden rule: flee from the French! Otherwise, the drop in results will be felt. And I speak to you with full knowledge of the facts.
In 2009, I drop everything and move to England with my best friend and a goal in mind: learn and speak English, English and English again! Having spent almost a year in London, I spent my time fleeing the French. Because with time, homesickness, we tend to look for what reassures us, what is similar to us in the middle of the unknown. Despite my efforts to stay out of my comfort zone, in the last 3 months of my stay, I started to hang out with French people in the salsa scene and I felt that my progress was stagnating. So it’s a trap to avoid!
If you are afraid to go on an adventure or if you prefer supervised experiences, several structures organize your immersion stays such as ESL, EF, nacelle… You stay on a campus or in a private home with intensive courses for a duration and a destination that you choose. Everything is organized, courses, accommodation, meals… you just have to pack your bags. Many stays in the United States or England are organized for learning English and Spanish in particular. There is no better way to speak the language of your choice!
It is of course essential that you continue to maintain the language when you return to France.
Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to leave their job and go abroad to learn a foreign language. What I call semi-immersion is living in your own country but forcing yourself to live as if you were abroad. Let me explain: setting up your phone, your computer, social networks in the target language, listening only to songs in the target language, watching TV channels and movies in the target language… In short, you understood me, you have to live the language as if you were living abroad if you want to learn a language quickly. Take advantage of the downtime to read, listen to posts cast during your travel time…
LANGUAGE EXCHANGE EVENTS
Every week, the polyglot club in Paris organizes events that bring together people who speak different languages. You wear a badge indicating which languages you master and which ones you want to learn. This way, you can naturally move towards a person who speaks the language you are interested in, exchange with this person and even stay in contact with him/her to continue speaking and progress. This is one of the methods I prefer because I have a passion for communication, discovering new cultures, exchanging, and debating ideas.
Moreover, it seems to be the most effective way to learn a language quickly. This way, practicing a language is no longer a chore. By combining business with pleasure, you forget the language barrier. The person in front of you wants to learn your language and you want to learn theirs, so no shame, you are on the same level! This can help you relax if you are afraid of being ridiculous.
FIND A MATCH
Remember in college when you had a foreign correspondent? You exchanged letters from time to time, wrote to him in English (for example) and he answered you in French. Well, it’s the same principle. Except for that thanks to technology, you can now talk to each other, call each other, skype you, WhatsApp you, snap you… In short, you understand me, a multitude of tools allow you to communicate instantaneously even on the other side of the world.
The ways to meet your correspondent are varied. As mentioned above, there are polyglot club events, but also applications like tandem, Hi Utandem, Wespeeke. These applications offer you the possibility to correspond in a multitude of languages such as English, Spanish, German…
And I can tell you that it’s an excellent way to progress in grammar, pronunciation… In fact, I owe 70% of my progress, both oral and written, to this method. Simply by communicating with people from all over the world. I have even made friendships like this!
Reading allows you to put the vocabulary you have learned into context. Indeed, some words may have a different meaning depending on their context. Similarly, even though you know a word, seeing it in a text can help you memorize it. Personally, I find it easier to memorize sentences or expressions than a single word.
Reading articles and it doesn’t matter if it’s a press article or a blog post. On the other hand, it has to be articles that you are passionate about, that speak to you, that you want to understand because the subject interests you. If finance doesn’t interest you in French, it will interest you even less in a foreign language. And that risks demotivating you.
FILMS IN VO.
Netflix-type platforms offer an interesting service in terms of the choice of languages and subtitles for a film. When you watch a movie on TV channels, you only have two options: VO and VF. On Netflix, you can choose to put a movie in Spanish, for example, even if the original version is in English.
If your goal is to learn Spanish, watch your films in Spanish with French subtitles. As you become more and more comfortable with the language, put the subtitles in Spanish instead so you can listen and read at the same time.
That said, it’s not enough to watch your movie while passively reading the subtitles. Instead, for each word in English, identify the corresponding words in the other language. I’ve learned countless expressions just by watching movies. So obviously a film that normally lasts 1h30, can last 4 or 5 hours. You pause it, go back and listen to it a second time, use reverso.net to make sure you’re spelling it right. Probably one of the most popular and easiest language learning techniques!
Who hasn’t thought at some point in their life: “I love this song too much, I’d like to understand what’s being said”? The fact that you want to understand the lyrics of your favorite song is already a source of motivation! It’s actually really fun at the end of the translation when you’ve put the “puzzle” of the song together and its meaning takes shape. When you listen to the song again, you remember the expressions and they stay in your head.
Did you ever hear your mother say to you when you were at school “I’d be happy if you learned your lessons as easily as the songs”? I have!
Wherever I go, I always take my notebook with me. No bigger than a pocket diary, as soon as I discover a new word, I write it down in my notebook. Also the expressions I discover or even expressions I know but am not used to seeing. Whether it is during a conversation with a correspondent, when translating an article, a song or watching a film, I always have my notebook at hand. This way, I can reread my vocabulary list when I’m revising until I’ve fully assimilated it. Things to do to enrich your vocabulary.
In short, if you want to learn a language quickly, it all depends on you and your objective, your motivation and your involvement. The important thing is to find the learning methods that best suit you and to alternate them in your program so that you don’t fall into boredom.
I hope that you will benefit from this advice. Please leave me your comments and tell me about your methods for learning a foreign language.