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Don Quixote: Easy Spanish Short Novels for Beginners With 60+ Exercises & 200-Word Vocabulary (Learn Spanish) (ESLC Reading Workbook Series nº 3) (Spanish Edition)
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How to Learn a Foreign Language: Master Your Foreign Language Acquisition and Make the Most of Your Study Time
Whether you're taking a foreign language class, learning through self-study, or just considering the idea of studying a second language, these tips will help to put you on the path towards language fluency.
While we have all heard the claim that it is best to learn a second language while one is still an adolescent, it is possible to learn a foreign language at any age. The truth is, learning a foreign language has never been easier than it is today: the internet provides us with millions of sources to aid us in acquiring new skills for little to no cost, and you can find a wealth of information on just about any language in which you're interested.
Learning a foreign language does require a level of dedication, but it can be both fun and simple, as long as you have faith in your abilities, are patient with yourself, and are interested in the language you are learning. The following tips outline how to the best ways to learn a new language, as well as how to make the most out of your study time while still finding enjoyment in the learning process:
(1) Choose a language you like. As stated above, it is of absolute importance that you are learning a language you find interesting. This is perhaps the number one rule of language learning. It is fine to choose a language based on popularity, but make sure you also enjoy the sound of the language, and that you find its alphabet aesthetically pleasing. If you are trying to decide which language course to take, listen to sound clips of the offered languages, and choose the one you think sounds the most pleasing.
Of course, some of us cannot always choose which language to learn: for example, if one is moving to a country where the national language is different from one's own. In that case, you might try to study the cultures and histories of the country or countries where said language is popular. Often, an interest in a language comes from an interest in the country from where the language derives.
(2) The more popular the language, the better the resources. If you are choosing a language that is not widely spoken, be aware that you will not have the same resources as you would were you choosing a common language, such as German, Spanish or Japanese. Much of language acquisition hinges on how easy it is for one to access material in that language. You won't find anywhere near as many resources if you plug in the term "Huambisa language resources" into a search engine as you would for "Mandarin language resources".
(3) Understand the fundamentals. Don't immediately go rushing to decipher your Swedish copy of 'Anna Karenina' after only a couple months of study. Moving too fast in your language learning, or expecting big results in a short time will only frustrate you, as well as possibly hinder your understanding of that language. Before you start looking up the translations for words like "compendious" and "lugubrious" in your multilingual dictionary, make sure you have a firm grasp of your language's pronunciation, alphabet, and sentence structure, as well as basic grammar terms. It may be slow-going at first, but you'll be much better prepared for the advanced levels if you have a good understanding of the foundation of your chosen language.
(4) Flash cards should only be supplementary. Flash cards are a poor way to learn a language. You should not be using flash cards to teach you new material, they should only be used as a means to remember or reinforce material you have already learned and understand. Flash cards are boring, they are outdated, and they will only retard your learning if you use them as a crutch. Grammar and vocabulary terms are best learned by exposing yourself to the language-not by looking at a flash card.
(5) Do not force output. Forcing yourself to speak or write in a language before you are ready can be damaging to your language abilities. If you have been learning a language for several months-or for even a year or more-and you still cannot communicate as well as you might like, don't fret. While your peers may be comfortable spitting out garbled phrase after garbled phrase, they are developing bad habits and may have a hard time letting go of them later on. The very essence of language acquisition is the ability to accurately mimic native speakers. Attempting to communicate before you are ready may cause you, in the long run, to rely on your own 'version' of the language, rather than what is actually correct.
(6) Reading is key. 'Extensive Reading' is an excellent way to learn a language, but it is often passed over in favor of other, more tedious methods, as it's difficult to incorporate into the classroom. The basis of 'Extensive Reading' is that you are reading material that is equal to your level, and only has about one new vocabulary term a page or every couple of pages. Rather than inundating yourself with loads of new grammar and vocabulary, as is often the case with reading material that is too far above one's level, try to pick material you can read easily and quickly. Looking up new terms in the dictionary can be both time-consuming, as well as annoying, and the more you understand your material's content, the easier it is to grasp a new vocabulary or grammar term. If you're just starting out, don't be embarrassed if all you can get through is the Russian variation of 'See Spot Run'. With enough practice, you'll find your reading level and comprehension improving in no time.
(7) Listen and repeat. Reading should be a major source of your language learning, but it's important that you're also exposing your ear to how the language sounds. This is extremely important when learning languages in which tone and pitch can completely change the meaning of a word or a sentence, such as in Chinese or Japanese. 'Pimsleur' and other such learning programs like it are a great way to learn pronunciation, but they should typically not be used as your only source for study (some conversations in the audio lessons are awkward or sound strange to native speakers). If you have access, movies, music and television are the best means to expose yourself to a language.
(8) Don't lose hope. Eventually, if you've been studying a foreign language for awhile, you're going to reach a point where you feel as if all your work has been for naught, or that you've reached a plateau and you're not improving anymore. Rather than give up, remind yourself how far you've come. Think back to the days when you were just starting out, and compare it to where you are now. Chances are, you'll find that you've made leaps and bounds in your language acquisition. Another option is to take your mind off your current struggles and tackle a third language you've always had interest in: once you remember what it's like to start out from the very beginning, you'll likely be wanting to rush back to your old, familiar second language.