Starting to learn a new foreign language can be difficult, no matter your age or pre-existing knowledge. The vast amount of information and new spoken meanings is overwhelming to many, and people have the assumption that kids have it easy.
Children have an easier time adapting to new things, not necessarily learning them as well. Scientists have been hard at work proving that it’s never too late to start learning foreign languages. Let’s see some of the benefits, tips, and ways to overcome that initial barrier and start your learning process.
First one is hard
The first foreign language you come across and try to learn will be difficult. No matter, if it's just a different dialect than what you are using right now, the grammar, oral and spelling alone, will make your head spin. It’s important to know that this is completely normal. Use your own language as a jumping off point for learning a new language by drawing parallels and creating visual references. We can describe this feeling as a form of a culture shock, and once you give your new foreign language a fair chance, you will notice that things are starting to click.
Just like any other form of learning, language learning is a process that takes time and practice. The first language you try to learn will be the most difficult one to get right. Once you are through that initial step, every other form of foreign language will be much easier to handle.
Benefits and applications
It’s easy to understand that learning new languages is beneficial to your personal development, but how does it help you exactly? There are numerous applications for knowing a foreign language other than your own, so let’s take a look at some of them and see if you find yourself in them:
• Understand people of a different culture, language, and thinking
• Become more attractive to employers for your foreign language skills
• Travel abroad without fear of being unable to communicate
• Develop your intuition and improvisation skills due to knowledge of multiple languages
• Join and participate in more social circles that require knowledge of foreign languages
• Indulge in foreign cinema, music, theater and literature without fear of misunderstanding
As you can see, these are only a handful of benefits and applications of knowing a second or even a third language. Any person who values themselves has at least one or two of these reasons in them. That means that you should start looking for a class group or a starter’s guide to your favorite foreign language as soon as possible. There is no reason to be cut short of a wonderful learning experience and be happy about doing something new.
Target the words
Before jumping to conclusions, learning a foreign language will be a step-by-step process for you. This means that you should start learning from the most basic words and move up to more complex phrases. Words such as “Good day” and “Thank you” or “I’m sorry” should be at the top of your list. This is because these words are used in many different contexts and allow you to build a picture of what the speaker is trying to say without actually knowing all the words. It’s one of the most efficient learning mechanisms and allows for an organic learning experience. Learning a new language through writing is also an option once you start getting the hang of it. If you are learning a language with Latin roots such as English, Italian or French, it’s a good idea to ask for professional help. Visiting a site such as Pick the Writer will help you find errors, edit and proofread anything you write, making the entire process easier to manage. Create a list of words and phrases that are most common in a foreign language you want to learn and the entire process will become that much easier.
You don’t need a lot of money to start learning a foreign language. Some of the best resources available to us are free and open to anyone willing to learn. One such tool is Duolingo, and it’s a simple website that allows you to learn new languages. It’s made with user comfort and development in mind, and it’s completely free to use.
This is just one of many applications and tools on the web that allow you to learn a language you always wanted. The sheer amount of options is truly limitless and it’s only up to you which tool you will use. Keep in mind that the most important thing is your personal dedication and will – everything else is at your fingertips.
One of the ways you can make foreign language learning a part of your everyday life is by listening to that particular language on a regular basis. Whether its TV shows, music or talk shows, listening to a foreign language will make it much easier to speak it. This is because you learn how to pronounce words, hear the context of their use and build your vocabulary in a natural way.
One of the best ways to memorize unknown words is by listening to music and the lyrics – you will soon catch yourself humming the words to the tune of your new favorite song. Put a song or a show on the next time you are relaxed and sitting in your favorite chair. Auditory learning doesn’t necessarily have to be learning by speaking – some of us don’t have the privilege to speak to a foreigner on a regular basis. That is why directing the foreign language at ourselves and listening to it whenever you can; you are doing yourself a huge favor in the learning process.
What scientists say
When it comes to hard science, however, scientists have proven that age doesn’t necessarily mean hardship when learning a second or a third language. Studies have shown that age gradually makes learning a new language more difficult due to an emergence of different conditions that youngsters are less affected by (like memory loss or dyslexia). However, studies have also proven that older people are far better at perfecting a new language than younger people are. This is due to their different levels of commitment and personal stance towards a challenging task.
Just imagine a situation where a young girl is learning French for fun and an older gentleman of 40+ learning French because his company is moving him to France for a position there. Who will be more motivated to learn? This is only a simple example of why older people are more committed to learning and thus, make things less painful and challenging. Older people also adapt better to new situations due to their years of experience, making it a matter of will, rather than ability. If someone older “wants” to learn a language, they are capable of doing so. Approaching it with a closed mindset will only lead to failure.
There is a second side to this coin, however, and it’s called “time”. Adults have less time on their hands than their younger counterparts, meaning that they have to decide very carefully if and when they will approach learning a foreign language. There is also the matter of multitasking and focus to consider since work life and domestic problems tend to make it hard to focus on anything else. Younger people are free of this burden and free to learn a foreign language or do many other things that adults have sadly outgrown.
What this means is that there is no universal rule to who gets to learn the hard way or the easy way. It’s all up to individual person’s capabilities and it’s one of the reasons that everyone should try to learn a foreign language at least once in their life. If you never try, you won’t find out how good you are at it.
Foreign language learning is open to anyone willing to take a step into something new in their life, so why wait any longer? Sit back, relax and start searching for your baby steps in learning a new language you have always wanted to. As you can see, it can only do you good by opening new horizons and giving you more options in life. No matter your age or knowledge so far, learning a new language is a journey