How to Learn a Language By Yourself - and Not Give Up
What is language?
It’s the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.
This is the answer you get if you look out for the definition of a Language on google.
However, language is much more than that! It’s not just a medium just convey messages but also to express ourselves. Language is an integral part of a culture that binds its people together.
The ability to communicate through not only separates us from other living creatures but enables us to express ourselves and our opinions, create art, organise society, and so much more.
Today, humans express themselves to others in 5000 to 7000 languages globally.
In India itself, there are 22 official languages and hundreds of dialects but most of us can only speak in 1 or 2 languages.
But in this increasingly globalised and interconnected world, being multi-lingual is always a plus, isn’t it? And most of us have tried or at least thought of learning a new language at some point in our lives.
Saying that you want to learn a language is the first step. How to learn a language by yourself, however, is a pretty confusing question to approach. It requires consistency, motivation, and organisation. Often, taking the first step can be relatively easy but it’s finding the motivation to continue that we find hard. So today, for all those taking up a language during quarantine, we have some useful tips and tricks to help you ensure you fulfill your goal all the way!
1. Choose the Right Learning Method for You
If you’re an auditory learner, common sense states that visual learning and aids won’t be of much use to you - at least, it’ll take far longer for you to grasp a concept. So the very first step is to identify the method of learning you enjoy - reading, listening, experiential - and find a way to use it to your advantage. Enjoy visual learning? Read, watch videos, use mind maps! If you’re a listener, podcasts and narrative videos are the way for you. And if you prefer experiential learning, find someone to learn with, so you can have conversations in the language, and immerse yourself in the culture you’re learning the language of.
2. Remember - You Can’t Learn a Language in a Day!
Setting over-the-top goals is a recipe for losing motivation quickly. Create a detailed plan, but remember - the focus is short term goals! Instead of planning how long you’ll study for, plan how much you’ll study and what you intend of learning in a study session. Secondly, while it’s important to focus on your final goal, the journey is equally important too! By giving yourself short term goals, you’re able to have smaller achievements that motivate you on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Eventually, all these achievements will add up - and viola, you are speaking French!
3. Learn and Have Fun at the Same Time - Open Netflix!
While this may not be accessible for every language, when it is, it’s something that mustn’t be taken for granted. Netflix is like a treasure trove, and its shows can acquaint you with the language, its delivery, and its use in everyday conversation. It’s always fun and is also a great way to become exposed to the culture - which takes us to our next point.
4. Don’t Just Learn the Language - Understand the Culture
There are several reasons this is helpful, starting with your investment. You may not be learning a language for any real-life need, such as travel or work, and with no external reason, it can at times feel unnecessary, and monotonous. Learning about the community’s culture and history alongside, however, makes you delve deeper and deeper. It makes the process of learning a language far more colourful and lively. Instead of watching an educational video every time, learn to make a traditional recipe in that language! Or maybe, watch a documentary, or attempt to read local folklore and myths.
While motivation is one aspect of it, it’s also important because the more you understand about the culture, the better your experience learning the language becomes, as it gives you valuable insight into certain phrases, origins of words, and sayings.
5. Pick a Language You Have Incentive to Learn!
Now, incentive doesn’t necessarily mean obligation - we all don’t have a big move, long vacation, or actual pressing need to learn a language. Because there isn’t much external pressure, it’s important to pick a language that you find interesting or one you anticipate having a use for in the future. Spanish may be one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s the language for you! maybe you love anime series’ - so perhaps Japanese is the language for you! If you have a life-long dream of backpacking in Italy - why not try learning that?
6. Find an Amigo and Speak - All Day, Everyday
If you live with people, why not take them on the ‘language-learning journey’ with you? By finding a partner, you’ve found someone to be accountable to, someone to challenge you, and someone to practice with. So, take advantage of that, and try and communicate in your language of choice as much as possible. If you live alone - well, that’s what phones are for! A great way to become more comfortable with the language is to (when you become more comfortable with it) change the settings on your smartphone, and replace English. It’ll give you 24X7 practice, even if you don’t have someone to practice with.
In today’s world, several resources exist to aid you in this journey – Duolingo, Mondly, Futurelearn and italki being just a few that make the process far easier.
Learning a language is tough, there’s no denying it. It is, however, also a great way to broaden your mind to explore new horizons, learn about different places, and become a truly ‘globalised’ citizen. And of course, it gives you the chance to impress the unsuspecting native speaker with your fluency!
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Written by Tishya Doraiswamy, Content Writer @ Skyshot Media