Learning a new language is a bit like baking a cake. Wait- what? Now before you go ahead and think I’ve lost the plot, hear me out! I know that this sounds a little bit silly but when you put all of the’ingredients’ together, and with enough patience, you’ll end up with a great final product- a newly acquired skill. Just like when you bake a cake! Only, hopefully, your language skills will last a little longer than a few days (or less than 24 hours if you’re eating a cake at my house!)
There are just 5 simple steps to learning a new language and after years of trying my hand at a fair few languages, I’ve settled on this (what I like to think of as) foolproof method. In my life, I’ve had a go at English (obviously), French, Spanish, German, Italian, Ancient Greek, Biblical Hebrew and Latin. Of course, the only ones I’ve really succeeded in so far are French and sometimes English (haha)!
5 Key ingredients to Learning a New Language:
The biggest thing that puts people off learning a new language is the time it takes to master one. Giving yourself regular breaks and making sure that you have a great environment to work in will ensure the first steps to success. Rome wasn’t built in a day (and neither will your language skills be). If you think about it, if it was that easy to learn a language, then wouldn’t everyone be speaking about twenty?
Like many things in life, the amount of effort you put into learning a new language is often equal to the amount of success you will see. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should sit down and read that language’s equivalent of Shakespeare in one go (I’m looking at you, Proust- so difficult!) Instead, start listening to music, watching movies and reading news websites. Learning a new language can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
3. Learn from your mistakes
The key mistake a lot of people make when learning a language is that they are afraid to make mistakes, meaning that they’ll speak less, therefore learning less. Don’t be that person! Instead, stop being afraid to make mistakes and carry on speaking. People will eventually learn to correct you, and in doing so your knowledge of the new language will increase exponentially.
They say ‘practice makes perfect’ and, if we’re honest, ‘they’ aren’t entirely wrong. Practicing, even a little, every day will help you a lot in the long run. Even just spending ten minutes a day on your new language will add up to hours over the course of a year. I really saw an increase in my French knowledge (and people could finally begin understanding what I was saying) when I started dating a French guy. Having to make an effort to speak and understand the language on a daily basis has helped drastically in my language skills!
The final key ingredient is arguably the most important. Learning a new language is never going to be easy. You’re essentially teaching your brain a whole new skillset, and one that it’s never encountered before. Persevere, practice, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and above all, don’t lost patience!