Knowing a second language is a very valuable skill. However, many people believe that becoming completely fluent in a second language as an adult is very difficult, or even impossible. Luckily, studies have shown that that’s completely untrue; in fact, a better understanding of language and grammar makes adults much better and faster learners than children! Here are some tips that will help you master that language you always wanted to learn.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
This is one of the biggest setbacks for adults trying to learn a new language. As adults, it’s weird for us to find ourselves in a position where we’re starting something from zero and are constantly making mistakes. We think of mistakes as something bad and embarrassing.
If you want to learn a language, you need to accept the mistakes and embrace them. Making mistakes is the most efficient way to learn. Making a mistake and correcting it will make a stronger memory in your brain than just getting it right. You should think of your learning journey as a race to make as many mistakes as possible.
2. Talk (if Only to Yourself)
Speaking in a language is by far the fastest way towards mastering it. It’s challenging because it gives you less time to think and really forces you to use what you know. No matter what level you are currently on, you will benefit greatly from speaking in your target language.
If you don’t currently live in a country where your target language is spoken, you can try to find a conversation partner online, maybe someone who is learning your language. There are many sites online dedicated to this service. You can also try talking out loud to yourself during your everyday activities. For best results, record yourself talking to check and improve your pronunciation.
3. Use Your Phone
Your smartphone can be a great asset to your language learning. There are many apps dedicated to teaching you vocabulary and phrases so that you can study on the go. You can download a handy vocabulary that you can carry everywhere with you. There are a number of apps for meeting and chatting with new people.
For more advanced learning, you can use your smartphone to record yourself reading texts to master perfect pronunciation. If you like to play mobile games, you can find a game in your target language for a more relaxing learning session.
4. Study Everyday
Repetition is everything when it comes to learning a language. Missing one day isn’t going to make all of your previous efforts wasted of course, but not having consistent learning habits will make the learning process slower and more challenging than it needs to be.
Find ways to make learning a part of your everyday routine. Listen to recordings in your target language instead of music in the gym or during your commute. Set a time when you can study every day and commit to it without excuses.
5. Learn Expressions
Learning vocabulary is obviously important, but you shouldn’t neglect learning set phrases and expressions. Languages will often have similar phrases (for example “Have a nice day”, or “Good luck”) but a literal translation usually doesn’t work in this situation. This is why you should learn set expressions for common situations.
Learning phrases will also make communication with people and listening to native audio much easier, because instead of searching for the right word you have a whole sentence ready!
6. Immerse Yourself in the Language
If you’re living in the country where people speak your target language this should be easy; just go outside and talk to people in everyday situations. But even if you don’t there are still ways you can immerse yourself. Change everything you can to your target language. Your computer, smartphone, social media etc. Read your favorite book/play your favorite game/watch movies/TV shows etc. in your target language. Place post-it notes on items around your house with item names in the language you’re learning and every time you use them say the word out loud or improvise a sentence using the word. Surround yourself with the language and everything you do can become a natural learning experience.
7. Learn About the Culture
This might not seem like an important part of learning a language, but it is. Culture shapes the language and understanding why something is said the way it is makes it easier to learn and remember. Knowing about the culture will also make all of the previous steps much easier. Learn about the customs, try some authentic foods, find out more about the history and try to meet some natives.