Languages play an important role in our lives. People want to speak a second language because it might bring new opportunities. There are hundreds of different languages and each one require a positive mood to learn. I think that there are many factors that people should consider in order to learn a new a language. In my perspective, time and money are the most important because two reasons.
In the first place, to learn a new language require investment of money. The best students are the ones who take classes with specialized teachers. These teachers have excellent methods of teaching, but they cost money. For instance, I remember when three years ago, I was trying to learn French by myself. I took classes online, also with some self-explanatory books. At the beginning, I thought that these methods worked well for me, but after speaking with my friend who was also taking French classes with a private teacher, I realized that I was wrong. Due to the fact, that he had less time than me studying French, and he could speak way better than me. This experience taught me that learning a language require investment of money.
Another noteworthy aspect of this ongoing explanation is that to learn a language not only require to pay teachers, also, we should allocate our time to study at least one hour daily. That meant that if we work and study at same same, it will be difficult. However, we have to do it in this way, if we wish to learn. According to the local newspaper, to learn a new language takes a least six months to speak the basic words and one year to develop writing skills. Nevertheless, if you migrate to places where the language that you're learning is the native language speak, then you may learn faster. As we can see, to learn a language don't take one day, rather, people have to study hard for a long time.
To sum up, I believe that the principal challenges to learn a new language are time and money. But, people can overcome any challenges that might present in their ways, if they persist.
If you’re struggling to learn a new language, breathe, you’re not alone. Adults famously find language learning more difficult than children, whose super-flexible brains actually grow the connections necessary to learn an additional language.
But, why is it so hard to learn a foreign language, anyway? Put simply, it’s hard because it challenges both your mind (your brain has to construct new cognitive frameworks) and time (it requires sustained, consistent practice). But there’s more to it than that.
In this article we’ll explore three major factors that make language learning difficult – and give you six tips to make it that much easier; to put a little spring in your language learning step!
Have you ever wondered why some people sail through Spanish and others can barely mutter “hola”? Well, there is research which suggests that our own brain’s unique wiring can pre-determine language success. In a study conducted at McGill University, participants’ brains were scanned before and after undergoing an intensive 12-week French course. Researchers found that stronger connections between brain centers involved in speaking and reading were seen in the better-performing participants. While this could mean that some people are simply cognitively better equipped for language learning, it doesn’t mean that everyone shouldn’t try (and yes, it really is that good for you)!
After-work classes, studying abroad, apps, talking with your foreign partner, working overseas, taking an intensive language course – there are so many ways to learn a language. However, it’s clear that because adults have to, you know, be adults, we simply can’t learn “implicitly” as young children do, by following around a nurturing native speaker all day. Unfortunately, our more sophisticated grown-up brains get in the way of learning.
As adults, we tend to learn by accumulating vocabulary, but often don’t know how each piece interacts to form grammatically correct language. Research from MIT even suggests that adults’ tendency to over-analyze hinders their ability to pick up a foreign language’s subtle nuances, and that straining harder and harder will not result in better outcomes.
Voxy’s Katie Nielson blames this on the idea of ‘language as object’. ”In history class, you start chronologically and you use dates in order of how things happened. That’s just not how language-learning works,” she says. “You can’t memorize a bunch of words and rules and expect to speak the language. Then what you have is knowledge of ‘language as object’. You can describe the language, but you can’t use it.”
It’s better, she says, to consider the process “skill learning” (something you do), rather than “object learning” (something you know). The remedy? Lose the perfection. Get messy in your learning – whether via app, class or travel – be happy to make mistakes and realise that you will feel silly at times.
Similarities Between Languages
We empathize! It’s not easy to learn a language vastly different than your own (think English speakers struggling with Korean, or a Thai native wrestling with Arabic). Interestingly, studies show that these difficulties are not due to personal aversions to challenge, but rather, to neurological preferences. Research at Donders Institute and Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics indicates that our brains are not indifferent to the similarities between languages, and will reuse our native tongue’s grammar and characteristics to make sense of a similarly-structured foreign language. Professor of psycholinguistics Nuria Sagarra agrees that learners of vastly differing languages have a greater challenge ahead: “If your native language is more similar to the foreign language (e.g. your native language has rich morphology and you are learning a different rich morphology, such as a Russian learning Spanish), things will be easier.”
Tips To Make Your Journey Easier
While learning a language will never be 100 percent easy – nothing truly worthwhile is – it can definitely be enjoyable and successful. So what can you do? Luckily, a lot!
Know Yourself and Your Goals
Why are you learning this language? For professional reasons? Pleasure? To communicate with family? With your goal in mind, actively search for opportunities to learn what you need and filter out what you don’t (for example, vocabulary for talking about your work is very different to that necessary to navigate North America on a road trip). Focusing on your overall learning goal will help you combat burnout when it comes.
While our brains are no longer as flexible as kids’ are, we can be as curious as them! Immersion and play are key, and for adults excellent approaches are taking a class in your language (French cooking in French or salsa in Spanish) or going on a study abroad program that combines language learning with travel and cultural immersion.
Already know one foreign language? Give yourself a head start by diving into a relatively (or very!) similar one (e.g., Portuguese/Spanish or Dutch/German or Norwegian/Swedish/Danish). Your previous learning experience will help you filter this new language more effectively.
“You need motivation to repeatedly seek out new language learning experiences, and motivation has been consistently tied to language learning success,” says Angela Grant, from Pennsylvania State University. Find yours by buying your plane tickets right away, having lovely notebook for class, exploring your city with a language exchange partner or making a ritual of doing your homework in a favorite coffee shop.
Come face to face with new input as much as possible! Change the language on your social media accounts, computer and phone. Download movies, listen to music and podcasts; read novels, non-fiction and magazines; watch documentaries and cook from foreign recipes.
Remember, you’re learning a skill, not an object. Relish the ridiculous moments, especially during the first months, and do not fear failure or embarrassment. Make peace with the fact that your accent isn’t perfect and you don’t understand everything. None of this matters in the long run. What matters is commitment!
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This article is published in collaboration with Education First.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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