The best way to learn a language

There are two different types of people learning languages. “The Will-Study-Till-Death” and”The Won’t-Study-Ever-and-Figure-Stuff-Out-By-Doing”.

All by themselves, both of these aren’t as efficient as they could be in combination.

The Will-Study-Till-Death

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You learn languages for fun and most likely by studying through grammar books and reading? Then you are this type of person. People that study this way are mostly better with reading and writing than listening and speaking.

The good thing about this way to study is that the language concepts are understood. It is also the only way to learn writing systems that are different from the romance alphabet.

Steps to help you improve:

1. Even though it might be hard for you, try to get a buddy to study with.

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The best choice, would of course be a person that is better than you in the language that you are studying – the best would be a native speaker. If you don’t know anybody that you can talk to, try the platforms lang-8 and italki. There are also others out there, that work in a similar way. If you don’t want to pay the fee to get a professional teacher you can still connect to people that learn your native language and help them with that in compensation for their help.


2. This tip only works for you, if you live in a big city. These kind of cities – especially capitals have a gigantic multicultural and multilingual community. If you don’t know where to find people that speak your target language, try restaurants that sell traditional food of the country that language comes from.

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This tactic doesn’t work 100% of the time, but you still have a good chance that the people making the food actually come from that country. Some times they belong to immigrant families or have just moved to your country out of interest. In any way just try speaking their language to them. What I realized while traveling is that natives usually aren’t that fixated on you speaking perfectly pronounced with the correct grammar. As long as the things you are trying to say are understood, your attempt will most likely be welcome.


3. A great way to meet natives is to be a host on couchsurfing. This gives you the chance to be in your familiar environment while getting to know something new. Also travelers are most likely the best kind of people to meet, since they are usually open for everything, have great stories to tell and will bring the big, wide world in your home. On Couchsurfing people also host meet ups where you also meet people from all over the world.


4. Go travel yourself!!!

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Travel throws you right into the unknown, so you’ll learn so much faster than in your comfort zone. You will meet tons of people, learn about different cultures and a whole new lifestyle. In case you are still considering – GO, it will be the best choice you have ever made!


5. Don’t stop studying. Get that grammar down, there is no way around that.

 

The Won’t-Study-Ever-and-Figure-Stuff-Out-By-Doing

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You are very social and love talking to and meeting new people? This is also the way you learn languages? You hate studying to death? Well, then you are this type. You will most likely be good at listening and speaking while you still have to improve reading and writing.

Steps to help you improve:

1.Keep up the communication and interaction. Since you are basically learning your language the same way as you did learn you mother tongue, you are doing it in a very natural way. Sadly your brain sort of adjusts to thinking in the language(s) we learned first. Because of that, grammar is usually hard to grasp. Since you learn a language mostly trough listening you will have a much faster understanding and feeling for the new language than the previous type though.


2. Spelling!!! Reading and writing is a very important part of a language. Just as you learned it for your first language(s) you will have to learn it for your next as well. In modern society you need it everywhere: to read the menu at a restaurant, for orientation, to read the news, because you want to apply for a job – whatever it is, you’ll need to know it.

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If you really hate studying, try watching YouTube videos. You’ll might also consider reading a book or comic you like in that language.Like that learning how words are written might be less of a chore.


3. GRAMMAR! Please, even though natives might still understand you even though your grammar isn’t perfect, they are still happier (and more impressed) by good grammar. This shows that you have dealt with the language thoughtfully. A website I really love is lingolia (for the languages German, English, French, Spanish and Esperanto.

As you can see what one type lacks, he can compensate with what the other is good at. In case your interested in the topic check out my other posts on the 4 main parts of language learning,  what’s so good about multilingualism anyway and if language learning is for just anybody.

Please leave a comment and tell me whether you agree or disagree with my points.

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