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Tips for Learning a Foreign Language

Read this article to get some Tips for Learning a Foreign Language. Relax and enjoy!

5:51 min read
  Teri Lapping  —  Grammar Tips
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Learning a foreign language can be challenging, especially for an adult. It takes motivation, energy, and perseverance. 

In this article, I will share some tips about activities and attitudes that will help you succeed in learning a foreign language.

Learning a Foreign Language vs. Learning a Second Language: Are they the same?

No, they are not. The process of acquiring a second language is different from the process of acquiring a foreign language.

 Let’s start by making a distinction between foreign and second language learners

Are you living in a foreign country, trying to learn the language of that country? 

In this case, you are a second language learner. 

You hear the language all around you, in restaurants, on the streets; you are easily able to immerse yourself in the culture, and you have become accustomed to hearing the melodies and rhythms of the language. You will learn the new language relatively easily. 

Are you living in your native country, trying to learn a language that is not being spoken around you? 

In this case, you are a foreign language learner. 

You do not hear this new language spoken around you; you will have to create your own environment conducive to foreign language learning. To succeed, you will have to be dedicated and committed.  

Why do you want to learn a foreign language?

Make sure that you are aware of your end goal.  

Do you want to travel to France? 
Does your business want to transfer you to the Italian office?
Do you want to visit your children who are living in Brazil?

Put pictures on your refrigerator. Let your friends and family know. Keep your reasons clear so that they will serve as a motivation during your language learning process. 

An Overview of the Language Learning Process

In the beginning, new languages sound like they are one continuous string of sounds. Take time to listen to the language. Slowly but surely, the separate words will emerge, and you will hear where the sentences stop and start. 

During the very first stage of learning, make sure that you listen and listen and listen. Soon, you will be able to repeat a few words, but you will not be able to understand anything that is being said. Those first few words will be your key, and you can make them the basis of real live communication!

In the second stage of learning, you will begin to hear the nuances. You will slowly understand more than you are able to say. You will have basic 2–3-word conversations with others.

In the third stage of learning, you will be surprised to find that you are understanding without effort and communicating without conscious thought.

Creating Language Learning Opportunities

Your first task is to create opportunities for language learning by incorporating the new language into your daily life. 

Continue reading to learn about 5 Language Learning Opportunities:

1. Language Buddies can provide Language Learning Opportunities

One on one is the best way to practice conversation.

Find yourself a great tutor who will help you learn to comfortably speak the language.

If you are lucky, you know someone who speaks the target language and agrees to be your Language Buddy. If not, try to find someone in person or online who speaks it. Set up time to talk.

Learn to listen and to ask your Language Buddy questions: for example, “What is this?” and “How do you say this?” are two of the most important questions you can ask. 

Learn to converse about your family, about your job, about your daily life. 

Carry a notebook and write down new words. Afterward, practice these words and try to use them in conversation. 

2. Daily Routines can be Language Learning Opportunities

Choose a daily routine to use as a Language Learning Opportunity: for example, Mealtime.

Write down a list of 20 things that belong to that routine: for example, table, chair, spoon, knife, fork, stove, cupboard, cook, sink, and so on. 

Write these words on sticky notes and place them on the appropriate items.

While you are making a meal, try to use these words out loud and with your family.  Add words. 

•       Add daily routines. 

3. Media can be a Language Learning Opportunity

*Use a Language Learning App.

There are many good ones available for close to free. They are well-done and organized into ongoing lessons that you can do at your own pace, using cutting-edge technology, gamified features, and modernized tools for online study.

*Find interesting celebrities and brands to follow on social media. 

*Listen to podcasts and online lectures.

*Watch your favorite videos with subtitles. Then, watch them without subtitles.

4. Reading can be a Language Learning Opportunity

If you are totally new to the language, read illustrated children’s books. If you have a child, or have access to a child, you can read them together. 

After you have some basic language, choose a book or novel that you already know and enjoy.

Buy the book in the foreign language. Read them together in both languages, checking sentences and exploring the meaning. 

Write down new vocabulary words that you find interesting. Later, make new sentences out of these words and try to use them in conversation. 

5. Music can be a Language Learning Opportunity

Find a song that you like in the target language. Listen to the song over and over until you are familiar with its melody and with the sound of the words. You can hum along while you listen, maybe trying to say a few of the lyrics. 

Now, find the lyrics on the Internet and print yourself a copy. Read the lyrics out loud several times without the music, pronouncing each word slowly and correctly. Try to copy the accent as best as you can.

Next, listen to the song again and sing along with the lyrics. 

Use the song for comprehension and vocabulary development by:

Making a list of the words that you do not know and defining them.
Analyzing the words and meaning of the song. 

Focusing on words you don't know and on certain sentences that sound interesting to you.

Final Thoughts

Hang out with little kids if possible. It's the best way to learn new languages. It is also easier to communicate with children using maximum gestures and a minimum number of words. 

You must commit to conversing, even when you are a beginner! 
You must dare to make mistakes when you learn a new language.

You will need to have many hours of awkward, scary conversations before you feel comfortable talking in your new language. 

Don’t give up when you get frustrated. The long-term results will be well worth the effort!

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