Every year in December I review which articles were more popular with my readers, and this year would not be the exception.
In fifth place is 7 Things To Consider When Wanting To Learn A Language
Learning a foreign language is very exciting. It opens a window to a new world that we were not aware of. It is a key to understanding new people and their culture.
There are though a few questions that anybody planning to add a new language to their list of abilities should ask themselves. This is a vital part of the planning process if they want to increase their chance of success.
Planning has its advantages, and the main one is that it will help you choose the right language for you. You will be able to have the right approach to language learning as well as optimising the learning experience.
Ask why you want to learn a language
Is it because you want to use this new language during your travels? Then what are the places you wish to visit in the future? What cultures are you drawn to? When answering these questions, make a list and then prioritise your answers. Then you will have a clear idea of the language you will choose.
If you are contemplating learning to optimise your career development, you’re not wrong. More companies are looking for employees who can speak a second language. You should consider the sector you are or intend to work in, and single out the language or languages most in demand. For example, if your firm deals with businesses in China, it will make sense if you go for Mandarin Chinese. Learning the foreign language that is in demand might even increase your chances to be sent abroad allowing you to have unforgettable adventures that you will always cherish.
If your interest in learning a new language is to improve at school, here you will have no choice but stick with the language education curriculum of your establishment. Regardless, you must find the way to keep motivated. For instance, you might be interested in getting the highest grade possible because it is required for your university entry.
Now, you will have a perfect idea of your intentions; and then comes the next big question.
The time frame
Knowing how long you have at your disposal to reach a certain level is paramount. The way you study will strongly depend on your answer. It is not the same if you’re short of time because the trip you are planning to do is a few weeks away or if you have one year to put the language under your belt. Also, a difficult language like Arabic will require more time than a romance language considered easy for English speakers to learn.
You should also see your daily commitments and find out the time available for language learning. Does this match your intentions? If you are after quick results, having less than 30 minutes of daily language activity won’t cut it.
In Fourth Place is How Your Study Plan Helps Achieve Goals.
Goal setting is important in everything that we do if we want to succeed. But first you must have a clear idea about your objectives. All successful language learners have unambiguous goals which allow them to focus on their target and help them advance in the right direction. This is the first step in the success ladder.
Write down your goals, and most importantly the reasons why they are important to you. Imagine you want to convince a friend or your partner about the validity of your intention, what would you tell them? Write this statement down, and once you’re happy with it, copy it and hang it in a place where you can see it.
Now you have a clear idea of your objective, to set it in motion, you need structure. This is were building a Personal Study Plan (PSP) comes handy.
The PSP will help you achieve your language learning goals. It helps you plan everything step by step and allow you to stay on track. You will know which task you should perform and by when. Once done you will be able to cross them over showing your progress and how much you are moving forward towards your ultimate goal.
With a PST you will stop studying aimlessly, not knowing what you are doing and why. It will make your language learning more effective and productive. It helps you focus on specific tasks that you will schedule and assign deadlines to their completion. So, these tasks are more likely to be done as you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve.
You are aware of the timeframe to achieve your goal and you’ve organised your tasks to help you get there. Planning will boost your motivation and commitment to consistent learning.
- Set your goals – have an estimated completion date
- Program study days and length of study
- Set reminders
- Work towards your goal in manageable steps
Developing new skills and knowledge is exiting and satisfying. especially when you can effectively document your progress. But it can be hard as well. It’s not always easy to find a gap in your busy life and spend it doing a language activity. Therefore, make sure that your plans are realistic and most of all achievable. This will ensure your growth in the knowledge of your target language.
When your personal study plan considers your skills, past and present, what you’re aiming at, your availability, your target will be easier to reach, and you will be more resilient when unforeseen obstacles pop out of nowhere.
In third place is The Importance Of Culture In Language Learning.
Culture is the ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular people or society. It is a blend of thought patterns and characteristics of a group of people. By interacting together, people grow together, and they become an entity when compared to other groups of people.
Even among individuals who share the same characteristics and living in the same society you may find subcultures that define their views and ideas. This is due to factors like social status, education etc.
Language and culture are deeply connected as one affect the other. Language allows the expression of thoughts and feelings and facilitates communication between people.
The culture in a society is always changing and so is the language to match the evolving values within this society. Language expresses the cultural beliefs.
There is an intergenerational culture which is also reflected in different expressions or slang understood only within the age group who created them.
Language reflects people’s perception of the world.
Language reflects people’s perception of the world. The same language spoken in different regions, sounds different and it is due to the cultural impact. For example, the Spanish spoken in Mexico is different from the one spoken in Dominican Republic or Argentina. Even though it is the same language, the historical evolution of each of these countries mentioned has played a part in it. To illustrate, due to the massive immigration of Italians, the Spanish spoken in Argentina has inherited a different intonation more like the Italian language.
The history of a culture is directly linked to the terms expressed in a language. For instance, the word ‘ojalá’ in Spanish is a direct influence from the Arabic word ‘insh-Alla’ and this is due to the Islamic conquer of Spain that has left its cultural print.
Culture influences the way you interact with the world.
If you are French, you will greet people with two or three kisses (pre Covid-19 obviously) whilst here in the UK a kiss is almost seen as an invasion of someone’s private space.
Culture helps you build your values and strengthens your bond with the group you belong to.
So, what does all this have to do with language learning?
In second place is 7 Tips For Optimal Results At Language Learning.
Learning a new language is a big decision and most people will not even try because they simply do not know where to start and most importantly what it entails.
Here are some tips that will help you succeed.
Know your objective
You must know the exact reason why you want to learn this language. Your end goal must be very clear to you. Ask yourself what do you want to use the new language for?
Imagine that you’re learning this language because your business is trading with a foreign company, you will have to learn specific vocabulary linked with your job to communicate with your foreign counterpart, so, your choice for a course will be different from someone else learning to go on a dream holiday.
Once your goal is identified, create a specific vision of what you want to achieve. Think of your goals as though they have already happened; feel the joy and satisfaction that you experiment, and your mind will create the opportunities to make them a reality.
Understand your motivation
Your reasons to learn this new language must be powerful enough to help you through the days where you are feeling that you cannot carry on studying. They should help you commit for a long period of time and do the best in your power and as much as you can to learn the language.
Your end-goal must be very clear
Consistency is the name of the game
You must study consistently over time if you want to get optimum results. Therefore, you should plan and find time daily for a language related activity. A little every day goes a long way, and it shouldn’t be difficult finding fifteen to thirty minutes here and there for your language study. “when there’s a will, there’s a way”.
And the winner- in first place - is10 Best Ways To Learn Spanish.
450 million people speak Spanish as their first language. It is understandable why it is in such a high demand as a second language to learn. So, if Spanish is your language of choice to master, here are a few tips that will help you succeed.
Making time for your study.
The most obvious tip is to look at your schedule and blank out the days and time where you could study. It is preferable if you could dedicate even 15 to 20 minutes daily to do a language task. If you feel utterly motivated don’t make it more than one hour if not, your initial enthusiasm will fade out soon when you feel constraint to more, especially if you are a self-taught learner.
Have a realistic time-frame
You should be aware of how long it takes to learn Spanish to a decent level.
You will need around 480 hours study to obtain a level B2-C1 of the Council of Europe for Foreign Languages classification (CEFR), which is an intermediate level.
This will translate in approximately one-year study or even more if you study less than one hour a day. Therefore, you should find ways to keep constantly motivated so that you don’t fall off the language learning wagon.
Set achievable goals
You should have a firm reason why you want to study Spanish. Set clear goals and set deadlines also. Be as precise as possible. Write down these goals and stick them somewhere visible as a reminder of your intentions. You can also create accountability by communicating your goals to friends or family members or even making them public on Social Media.it will be then less likely for you to backtrack.
It is also recommended to remind yourself – as often as possible – of the big picture – the outcome you are pursuing-. This will help you carry on especially when the initial enthusiasm weans out after months of study.
It might be useful if you download your goals and tasks in an electronic planner or online calendar as well, so that you receive notifications and reminders of the work to be done.
Do not rush the process
You need to establish a solid foundation and understand the basics of the language so that you can build upon a solid ground.
Get used to the new language, its alphabet, the words’ genre, the grammar, and try to memorise a few colloquial sentences that will help you feel that you are progressing. Every day build on it to grow your knowledge base. This will help you somewhere down the line to initiate and maintain conversations in Spanish.
Create an immersion-like environment.
As there are many restrictions to travelling lately, it won’t be always possible to travel to Spanish-speaking countries. So, you should try and bring the Spanish language into your home.
Listen to the news and music in Spanish. There is a myriad of internet radios in various languages. Watch Spanish and Latin-American films on Netflix. They are very interesting, and they will help you familiarise yourself with the diverse accents and slang popular in each country.
Read online newspaper articles in Spanish. It might not be easy at the beginning but reading in context will be useful especially if you are aware of current affairs in your own language.
These were your five favourite readings for the year, if you didn't download the freebies for each article, you can still do it by clicking on the links.
Here's for a successful 2021 jam-packed with strategies for better language learning.