I have been teaching English for more than 20 years. Languages fascinate me. People who speak many fluently impress me. Even more when they speak languages that have nothing to do with their mother tongue. I have a friend like that who leaves me speechless: he can learn a new language in a few months (even Mandarin) and can imitate many accents to perfection!
I also have a gift for languages and certain circumstances have nurtured it. I have been fortunate enough of having been born in a bilingual family (my mom is German and my dad is from Québec), of having fallen in love with an English guy at 14 year’s old and, at 18, with a latino. So four languages. Love, it has been proven in studies, makes you learn very fast! At the age of 30, I decided to learn Italian (isn’t it the most beautiful language of the world?) and I was able to speak quite quickly. Unfortunately, I have lost it since I don’t practice it anymore. Languages are forgotten. It is not like learning how to bike.
The fastest way to learn is to speak. Speak, speak, speak. Interact. Make mistakes and speak again! The first step can be to buy a learning method (you will find them in your favourite bookstores) and a conversation class (make sure to chose a teacher that will make YOU speak more than he/she does.) If you don’t have anyone to speak to, talk to yourself. In the mirror, in the car. Think of a sentence and see if you would be able to say it. If you can’t, start by learning a few expressions by heart and lots of vocabulary. Without vocabulary, you cannot make sentences. Vocabulary is even more important than grammatical structures.
Then, follow ALL these tricks that will really give you a jump start:
- Write 5 phrases a day. It is a simple practice that has been proven to help. Just write about your day. I ate a banana this morning, I would like to see this movie, I have to call my mom tomorrow. It will encourage you to practice various verb tenses and discover new vocabulary. Make sure to keep a dictionary (we use the computer now) close by at.
- Write words on post-its and post them everywhere around the house. 25 words per week. This will teach you how to say the objects around the house : sink, bowl, toothpaste, carpet, cauliflower. The week after: 25 new words. It works!
- Choose great songs, print the lyrics and sing. You will learn and have fun at the same time. Google translate, a fantastic tool, can be really useful to understand what you are singing.
- Buy magazines. For beginners, novels can be scary because they are quite long but everyone can decode words in short articles accompanied by pictures and captions. I remember my first ¡Hola! and Vanidades that I bought in Mexico. Reading is an excellent way to learn.
- Download the Duolingo application on your tablet. It is free and amazing! The secret for success : consistency. You better do 10 minutes a day than one hour, once a week.
Of course, the best trick will always remain to is find yourself a lover in the language you are learning or to live in an immersion context. While you are getting there, sing in your shower.
To encourage you, here is a funny quote of an interpreter who spoke more than 15 languages: « Only the 10 first are difficult.»
Ending this post with homework for you : read the French version of this post and check out new vocabulary on the Picoum store.