Learning to speak in a new language is certainly a difficult prospect which many of us will be faced with at some point in our lives, whether for work or business purposes, holiday travel or even just for the fun of learning and to be able to socialize with people from exotic lands. Many people have convinced themselves they are simply bad at learning languages, and others who may not have done that yet, soon will once they have their first failure. It doesn’t have to be that way – nobody is really that bad and everyone is capable of learning a foreign language at any point in their life as long as you do it right.
The Wrong Way
There are countless methods, techniques, theories, courses, computer applications, online services and on and on, which claim to help you learn to speak another language. Some are good, some are not so good, some are really great but the reality is they are mostly irrelevant – you can learn with any of them or all of them or even with none of them.
The BIG FAIL in language learning is pretty much always caused by this one key issue – if you do not actually use it you will not only lose it, you will never gain it properly in the first place. You can use any new fangled method or technology available and you may learn a few words here and there and you’ll think all is going well but we are not machines – what you learn today can and very likely will be forgotten tomorrow or next week or any time.
Many people think that just by going to spend time in another country to do “language immersion” that the new language will magically sink in, by some weird process of osmosis. But that is not the case – a very common failure in these situations is that people go off to these foreign lands then they hang out with people from their own country, they watch BBC or CNN or whatever channel or program is in their own language on the hotel TV every night, in effect they bring their own country and language with them instead of leaving it all behind and jumping into the deep end in a new language.
The Right Way
The only way to ensure a new language sticks is to use it and keep using it, over and over again, at every possible opportunity, in every conceivable situation, no matter how awkward it may seem at first. Keep using it while learning more, absorbing more vocabulary, becoming more familiar with grammar as you go along. Naturally at first you will find it harder to retrieve the right words to use even if you have learned them before but with continued practice it will become much easier and faster and soon it will be second nature.
You may also feel like an idiot when you accidentally use the wrong words, sometimes a very embarrassing word, but that is really all part of the fun of learning a new language – enjoy those moments, embrace them even, for they are not only funny but they also help you to learn and remember the correct words to use in future!
Immersion is great for rapidly learning a new language but as mentioned above, only if you really do immerse yourself, no cheating! Of course you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world for immersion, or language learning in general, you can do it from the comfort of you own home simply by going online. You can also setup an online language exchange with many different people so you can chat with them frequently and really get used to talking while in a safe environment with nobody around to see your red face when you fluff your words!
When you embark on your learning journey, use all the resources available to you, including courses, methods, exchanges and even foreign trips if you are fortunate enough to be able to do that, but above all do it the right way – USE IT OR LOSE IT!!