How To Learn Any Language
This article was co-authored by Tian Zhou. Tian Zhou is a Language Specialist and the Founder of Sishu Mandarin, a Chinese Language School in the New York metropolitan area. Tian holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from Sun Yat-sen University and a Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from New York University. Tian also holds a certification in Foreign Language – Mandarin from New York State and certifications in Test for English Majors and Putonghua Proficiency Test from The Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. He is the host of MandarinPod, an advanced Chinese language learning podcast.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 33 testimonials and 85% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 907,754 times.
Learning a foreign language can be difficult, but if you follow certain techniques, soon you’ll be able to learn any language. Although there’s no easy way to go about it, with some hard work and practice, you can be fluent in no time.
Here Are Our Top Ten Benefits Of Learning Languages:
One of the most rewarding aspects of the human experience is our ability to connect with others. Being able to communicate with someone in his or her language is an incredible gift. Bilinguals have the unique opportunity to communicate with a wider range of people in their personal and professional lives. Knowing the language makes you a local no matter where you are, opening up your world literally and figuratively. You will be shaped by communities. You will be humbled by the kindness of strangers. You will build lifelong friendships. And for these reasons alone, you will see the reward of learning languages for many years to come.
2. Advance Your Career
3. Feed Your Brain
The many cognitive benefits of learning languages are undeniable. People who speak more than one language have improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask, and better listening skills. They switch between competing tasks and monitor changes in their environment more easily than monolinguals, as well as display signs of greater creativity and flexibility. If that werent enough, as we age, being bilingual or multilingual also helps to stave off mental aging and cognitive decline.
4. Deepen Your Connection to Other Cultures
5. See the World
6. Go to the Source
7. Become a Polyglot
8. Boost Your Confidence
9. Strengthen Your Decision Making
10. Gain Perspective
Learn Languages Like A Polyglot
Polyglots are the best reference you can have if you want to learn many languages. You might not be aiming to learn too many languages, but if you know how theyve learned, you can copy their methods to learn just one language.
They might have grown up being bilingual or multilingual because they have two or three mother tongues. If thats the case, learning a fourth or fifth language is not hard for them. This means if you speak two languages, itll be easier to learn a third language.
Learning languages improves your cognitive skills, so if you really want to be a polyglot, start with one foreign language. Learning another one will be easier.
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Why Did My Daughter Say Feet Correctly For A While And Then Go Back To Calling Them Foots
Actually, she hasn’t ‘gone back’ at all she’s gone forward. When she used the wordfeet as a toddler, she was just imitating what she had heard. But now she has learned a rule for making plurals, which is that you add the s sound to the end of the word. So she’s just applying her new rule to all nouns – even the exceptions to the rule, likefoot/feet. She’ll probably do the same thing when she learns to add ed to verbs to make the past tense, saying things like he standed up until she learns that stand/stoodis an exception to the rule. She’ll sort it all out eventually, but for now, rest assured that this is progress it’s evidence that she’s going beyond imitation and actually learning the rules of the English language.
Learn With Stories And Songs
Find childrens songs and books in your target language or that are bilingual. This could be something super simple, or even a series like Harry Potter, which has been translated in 74 different languages. Knowing the story will help you fill in gaps along the way. If its something youre familiar with, youll find it easier to pick up new words from context.
Children also love to read or listen to stories again and again and again! Doing the same as adults allows us the opportunity to reinforce what weve learned, so we can better understand the story and remember new vocabulary with each repetition. Start with fairytales or picture books, and youll work your way up to chapter books in no time.
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Schedule Learning Sessions Before Bedtime
One of the huge benefits of sleep is that it allows us to clean our active operating memory, thus boosting our learning capacity. Studying before bed time or getting a nap after your practice session will move all the information youve just learned into your brains long-term memory storage.
Once the information gets there, its safely stored for a longer period. The spaced repetition technique will help you improve the connection between short-term and long-term memory, meaning youll be able to remember everything faster and more accurately.
Immerse Yourself In The Language
Once youve trained your ability to get the language out of your mouth and speak it, you need to start doing the same things as before on steroids. The idea is to speak to as many people as possible and get as much language input through reading and listening as you can.
In order to create as much immersion as possible from your home without traveling to a foreign country, you need to find ways to input your target language into your life. As we mentioned above, it can help tremendously to learn around your own interests in order to keep yourself engaged and interested as you learn the language.
For more tips on creating an immersion environment from home, check out this article.
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Use The Spaced Repetition Technique
Spaced repetition is an oldie but a goodie when it comes to language-learning tricks. It helps you memorize new words better.
To practice it, you have to review each word and phrase youve learned within certain spaced intervals. At first, those should be shorter you may need to review a new word or phrase a few times during one practice session, and afterwards on the next day. Once it gets stuck in your mind well, youll be able to leave days or even weeks between revising without forgetting what youve learned.
Heres a diagram illustrating this process:
Learn more about spaced repetition in this article: How to Use Spaced Repetition to Remember What Youve Learned
Keep The Motivation Up
What’s the best way to stay motivated in language learning?
This is probably the most important question of all.
You can know all the best ways to learn pronunciation, words, and grammar. But if you can’t maintain your motivation, it’s never going to happen.
Luckily there’s loads of cool research on motivation that’ll help you get your language learning act together. Here are a couple of ways to get started:
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Theres One Big Factor That Stops People Learning Languages Efficiently
Even so, most agree that you shouldnt be too ambitious, particularly when starting out. If theres a single factor that stops people learning languages efficiently, its that we feel we have to be native-like its an unreachable standard that looms over us, says Temple Universitys Pavlenko. The ease of expression is what matters to me a lot finding a better way to express myself, colloquially.
Along these lines, you should also practice a little and often perhaps just for 15-minute stints, four times a day. I think the analogies with exercise are quite good, says Alex Rawlings, who has developed a series of polyglot workshops with Richard Simcott to teach their techniques. Even if you are too busy or tired to do serious study, just practising a dialogue or listening to a foreign pop song can help, says Simcott.
In the UK, Australia and US, it is easy to believe that we dont need to make that effort. Indeed, before I met the hyperglots, I had wondered if their obsession merited the hard work perhaps, I thought, it was just about bragging rights. Yet all of the hyperglots I meet are genuinely enthusiastic about the amazing benefits that can only be achieved by this full immersion in different languages including the chance to make friends and connections, even across difficult cultural barriers.
How Fast Can A Human Learn A Language
Picture source: medium.com
According to FSI research, it takes 480 hours to become proficient in a group 1 language, while 720 hours for a group 2-4 language. It takes 48 days to learn simple languages and 72 days to learn difficult languages if we can put in 10 hours a day.
How long did it take you to learn a language? There are numerous variables that can impact the amount of time required. The learners attitude as well as the amount of time they spend immersed in the language are two of the most important factors. According to one estimate, a person will need to learn about a hundred languages in order to do so. A FSI study discovered that it takes 480 hours to master basic fluency in group 1 languages and 720 hours in group 2-4 languages. Learning a foreign language will be more difficult because we do not have the time to spend 10 hours per day doing so. The intensity has its own benefits, and I am confident that within two months, someone who follows this intense program or something similar will be able to understand conversational questions.
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Find Your Motivation To Learn A New Language
Wish you had paid more attention in high school Spanish? Consider why you didnt. Perhaps all you wanted out of the class was a good grade, or to fulfill a graduation requirement. Linguists call these incentives extrinsic motivators, but the most successful language students are intrinsically motivated, sincerely invested in their own learning. So pick a language you are excited to use, whether on a grand vacation or on your couch watching foreign-language soap operas.
How Do Children Learn Language
There is great debate among linguists as to how children learn language. Some believe that children are born with an innate ability to learn language, while others believe that children learn language through exposure and imitation. There is evidence to support both sides of the argument. However, the most likely explanation is that children learn language through a combination of both nature and nurture.
The length of time it takes a child to learn a foreign language varies by the factors they consider. This includes their age, first language, why they are learning English, and the reasons for learning English in the first place. Its fine for children to grow at different speeds, and you can help them by providing them with plenty of opportunities to learn English. Teenagers are interested in learning about their personalities and identities. With the advancement of popular culture and entertainment, there are numerous opportunities for the use of popular music, films, television, and video games. Teenagers also enjoy challenging authority, which allows them to debate and discuss various topics. A number of studies have shown that children who speak more than one language perform better in school.
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Preface By Tim Ferriss
Ive written about how I learned to speak, read, and write Japanese, Mandarin, and Spanish. Ive also covered my experiments with German, Indonesian, Arabic, Norwegian, Turkish, and perhaps a dozen others.
There are only few language learners who dazzle me, and Benny Lewis is one of them.
This definitive guest post by Benny will teach you:
- How to speak your target language today.
- How to reach fluency and exceed it within a few months.
- How to pass yourself off as a native speaker.
- And finally, how to tackle multiple languages to become a polyglotall within a few years, perhaps as little as 1-2.
It contains TONS of amazing resources I never even knew existed, including the best free apps and websites for becoming fluent in record time. Want to find a native speaker to help you for $5 per hour? Free resources and memory tricks? Its all here.
This is a post you all requested, so I hope you enjoy it!
Immerse Yourself With Free Resources
It has never been easier to learn a language fast without actually travelling to a country where it is spoken. This is because there are now tons of free reading and listening resources that you can access online. Use them to immerse yourself in the language every day. If you go to this page of our website, you can find lists of the best free resources for each of the languages Lingoci offers.
Ideally, you should use language resources that are just one level above your own. In linguistics, resources at this level are known as comprehensible input. Put simply, this means that you should only just be able to understand whatever you are reading or listening to. You should be outside of your comfort zone, but you should know just enough of the language to enable you to understand and interpret new language.
In terms of format, radio and podcasts are great when you have at least an intermediate level, but TV and films are preferable at the start. This is because the images provide you with context that helps you understand the language. One thing I specifically recommend is watching the international news. News presenters speak very clearly, so you will have a better chance of understanding. Also, due to the international focus you will already know some of the news stories. The images, combined with the clear speech and your background knowledge, will help you follow along and pick up new words even if your level is very basic.
What Do You Do With A Second Language
Even reaching intermediate in a new language starts to generate interest in terms of career development. Bilinguals or polyglots mainly have two tracks to consider: linguistic track and non-linguistic track.
The linguistic track includes all professions that use language skills for most of the job responsibilities, such as translation, interpretation, teaching or research. The options arent as diverse, and they are best suited for those who are truly obsessed with languages.
The non-linguistic track has a lot more options: essentially, you are to distinguish yourself by combining your language skill with another professional skill. For example, if youre bilingual or trilingual wine expert, you have an edge over the monolingual sommeliers, for you can use your second language to serve a new clientele or negotiate with the suppliers.
The modern workplace is constantly reinventing itself and updating its labor demand. The world were in calls for M-shaped individuals who specialize in two or more areas and continue to pick up more skills along their careers.
To any employer with a sharp eye for talent, your ability to speak another language and the ability to teach yourself a new skill translate to these highly desirable qualities: high intelligence, a respectable level of self-discipline and connections to a new demographic that was previously unknown to them.
Contrary To Conventional Thinking It’s Never Too Late To Learn A New Languageuse These Tips To Get Started
For more than two years, Dulcie Shoener of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has done daily German lessons on her smartphone. To some, that might sound like self-imposed homework, but Shoener, a language lover and the copy chief for Readers Digest and other publications, doesnt see it that way. I enjoy it so much, she says. Its a delight to be able to read a short story in German.
To be able to read, write or carry on a conversation in another language is a feat few Americans attempt, let alone achieve. Just 7% of our university students study a language other than English, and less than 1% of American adults are proficient in a foreign language they studied in school. Of her college German, Shoener says, I remembered very little.
Yet the rewards for those who do learn a second language are profound: increased travel opportunities, of course, but also improved memory, focus and ability to multitask. Bilingual brains are better shielded against cognitive disorders such as Alzheimers disease. And according to a poll conducted by the language app Babbel, knowing multiple languages can make you more attractive.
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Are Some Languages Easier To Learn Than Others
Not when we are discussing your native language. But when trying to acquire another language later, the difficulty can depend on the type of language. It is easier to learn another tongue when it shares similar sounds and syntax with your native tongue. Having the same alphabet helps, too! As we age, new sounds, as well as new symbols and grammatical conventions, can be more challenging to master.
Many children who are raised in bilingual homes, though, are able to master multiple languages at one time. In fact, provided they have ample interactions with native speakers, children can learn and master several languages. You can imagine a scenario where a young child has a Chinese mother and a German father but goes to a French immersion school. As long as that child is consistently spoken to in those different languages from a very early age, there is no reason why they couldnt grow up speaking the three languages fluently. Most polyglots, or people who can communicate in multiple languages, are usually fluent in three to five languages.