Learning a second or third language is a great skill to have, and although it sounds daunting – don? t fret. You already learned one- remember? Think about how long it took you to learn your mother tongue.
First things first; you will not learn another language simply by hearing others speak it. Participating on short travel experiences will not make you an expert in the languages of the cultures you visit.
Short travel experiences however, are perfect for practicing another language you are learning. It can also be very rejuvenating to see how the language can assist you in real world applications, making studying when you return home much easier.
To learn the basics, there are great programs online and software available, such as Rosetta Stone, or audio courses, like Pimsleur. There are also apps that introduce you to the basics of a language, such as Duolingo. And of course, there are textbooks! Your campus bookstore will definitely have resources for those taking introductory Spanish and you could pick up their textbook to learn too. If the bookstore is out of your price range, try your local Indigo or head to Amazon.
Once you’ve got the basics down, it time to practice! Like so many others, practice makes perfect. Below are a few strategies past SOS volunteers, supporters, and employees have found successful while learning a second language.
Talk to Yourself
Practice forming sentences in your head. If you read something in your native language translate it into the language you? re trying to learn. It will help you become comfortable to form sentences quickly and then one day speak the words out loud.
When you? re learning to form sentences you will instinctively create sentences in your mother tongue and then translate them word for word in the new language. One day you want to be able to skip this step and speak or write in the new language right away, and this will help you do so.
Find a Partner
The point of learning a second language is to be able to communicate with other people. You may think you know how to have a conversation in another language, but you won? t know until you try.
A great way to hone your skills that isn’t too intimidating is practicing with just one partner. You? ll be able to find a partner in the Languages and/or Literatures department on campus or in a campus club devoted to the language you? re learning or the culture it is traditionally spoken within.
Label and Learn
Learning a new language means learning a lot of new nouns. Ever take for granted that you know that a chair is called a chair, a table a table, or a window a window? Not anymore! You’ll need to know what items commonly found in your home, office, or school are called in your new language.
A great way to do this is to find the name of these items in the language you? re trying to learn, and label the items at home. As you go about your daily routine you’ll see the labels on items you use everyday and the translation will stick in your head. Your new decoration may take some time to get used to, but it’s worth it.
Use Popular Media
A great way to practice another language is to watch tv shows and movies, listen to the radio or podcasts, and read newspapers and magazines in the language you’re trying to learn. Most of these mediums can be found for free online or in an app, and will always be readily available for you to practice.
Act Like A…
Our final piece of advice for learning a new language is act like a child. Taking on a childlike attitude may be the key to learning as quickly as possible. Children are not self conscious, have a desire to play, and are willing to make mistakes. Making mistakes is encouraged for a child. For an adult, mistakes have become congruent with weakness or inability. Adults are much more like to say “I can’t” as opposed to “I haven’t learned that yet”.
It’s important to start with and consult your textbooks, apps, and software programs, but you don’ t want to get lost in them. You will only know if you’ve mastered your language once you? re able to speak with others. Keep it social
Learning a new language takes perseverance and dedication. If you have a strong reason for wanting to learn another language you are more likely to stick with it over the long run.
Time and time again SOS volunteers return from their Outreach Trips wishing they had learned more of the host country? s language. Wanting to come home, learn the language, and go on another Outreach Trips is a very common reason SOS volunteers have been on more than one Outreach Trip. You can learn a new language, and you will!
To access SOS’s FULL list of language learning resources email firstname.lastname@example.org!