Ten Tips for Learning Languages Part 2: Tips 6-10
The dramatic conclusion to my ten language learning tips! Learning lanagues is surprisingly doable for people of all ages and a lot of fun. In fact "have fun" was one of the first 1-5 tips: click here to read them all. Here are the final five:
6. Travel to the country. Of course this is my favorite bit of advice. When you’re in the country it helps with all these other tips. You’re surrounded by the language and given the opportunity and forced to learn. You can learn more of the language in a couple days in a country than months in a classroom.
7. Surround yourself with the language in different settings. If you’re not in the country you can still find communities and even if you are in the country make sure to get out, away from people who speak English! Go to the markets, volunteer, hang out in the park, etc. Each place offers new words and phrases to learn enjoyably.
8. Go to school. That’s right I said it! At the very least it’s a new setting to learn new words! But really people on the street don’t usually want to correct you and teacher/tutors will, which can be very helpful. A little bit from school or books can go a long way when you combine it with real world experience. But I’m talking short term school, tutoring, or group learning: a few months in a classroom to me seems a waste of time, money, and soul.
9. Make friends. Okay I’m not suggesting befriending people just because they speak the language and people can get annoyed if you keep asking them language questions. But people often do want to help you learn and making friends with people can help with all these other tips: have fun, learn about the culture, gain confidence, speak in different settings, and this last one:
10. Be the language. Language is not just about the words and grammar or even accents. Every language has a spirit. (But at the very least, please try to develop a bit of an accent. Many English speakers will speak a foreign language with a complete [usually] American accent.) Really, you’ll notice a bilingual person will often seem like two different people depending on which language they are speaking.
Don’t lose yourself and be phoney. Just let go to some extent and be influenced by the language and culture. You need to engage the native speakers where they’re coming from rather than expect them to meet you.
For example, you can’t really speak Spanish “correctly” without
being friendly, welcoming, and playful, even if you’re not that way in
your native language! To speak Japanese “right” you have to be very
polite, appreciative, quick to laugh and quick to bow.
If you can do those things you can connect with new people in a new way you couldn’t have before. That’s one of the most exciting, valuable, and wonderful things in the world. And you’ll be able to import the riches you find from those connections into your own language and community.
Eli Gerzon/Worldschooler is the Worldschooling Editor for Wandering Educators. He
leads Worldschool Travels: small group travel where the world is your
school. Find him on the web and
learn more about his Worldschool Travels and unschooling and worldschooling on his site www.eligerzon.com.