For many people, the idea of learning a foreign language can be exciting and intimidating, especially if the thought brings back memories of learning a second language in middle school or high school.
The truth is that learning a foreign language is a lot easier than most people expect, particularly if you follow these four tips which I have discovered after a decades of helping other people learn English.
1. Make mistakes: The way to learn a new language (and new things) is by making errors. That is right!! Your success will come from repeatedly failing. Give yourself permission to make mistakes (not indefinitely and irrationality) and you will learn more than you ever dreamed possible.
2. Look for words your native tongue has in common with the new language you have to learn. Here is an example: the word for American is Americano in Spanish, American in French and Americano in Italian and Portuguese. Interesting is interesante in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese and interessant in French. Recognizing words that are familiar, and this will help you build your new vocabulary faster.
3. Take chances. When you attempt to speak any foreign language you run the risk of not being understood, but this is definitely the risk worth taking. After all, it is better to do something imperfectly, with mistakes than to do nothing and stay “perfect”! When you visit another country, you will find that the native speakers will appreciate your attempts to communicate in their language, even if you make a mistake or two.
4. Repeat, repeat, repeat and always repeat. The saying is: Practice makes it perfect. Like any new skill you want to hone, the more time you spend cultivating it, the quicker the skill becomes part of you. Use your time commuting to work or relaxing at home, to work, on new material or reinforce the old.
I wish you every success in mastering the language of your choice and begin enjoying the many benefits of being multilingual in today’s increasingly global world.