The end of 2014 is fast approaching. Which means if you haven’t drawn up your shortlist of resolutions yet, then you should do so. And quickly.
Learning a new language is one way to bring a certain je ne sais quoi to the New Year. But how do you go about it? Here are a few of the best ways to learn a language in 2015...
Why Learn a Language?
Before we get to that part, though, there’s a key question to ask: why? Aside from the sheer thrill of being able to communicate with people from a country other than your own, the main reason is because it will help you in your career. In a joined up, global economy employers are increasingly looking for people with language skills to allow them to reach into foreign markets.
Choose Your Language Carefully
Another key question you need to ask yourself is: which language should I learn? It’s no good being a fluent speaker of X, Y or Z language only to find out that, on closer inspection, you can’t stand the place and are never likely to visit it.
Be Realistic about How Long it Takes
How long does it take to learn a language? The answer is: it completely depends. Not everyone takes to it like a duck to water. The important thing here, though, is to not get disheartened and just learn at your own pace - whatever that may be.
Once you’ve got through these key initial steps, one of the best ways to learn a language is to watch films. Lots and lots of films. Thankfully, international cinema is now so easily accessible – online and off – that you can almost always buy a wide variety of top films from your chosen country. Trust us: watching a foreign language film with your native language subtitles switched on really sinks in.
Read Comic Books
Like films, the great thing about comics is, whatever the level of language they contain, because of the accompanying pictures you can always (just about) keep up with the story as it plays out.
Put Post-its Everywhere
Want to remember how to say ‘fridge’ in your new language? Stick a post-it up there. Found a nice expression that you want to remember? Put it on the bathroom mirror so it’s the first thing you see in the morning. This constant visual reinforcement of words and phrases you’ve learnt helps your memory to allow them to become truly ingrained.
Get a Language Buddy
The buddy system has been proven to work for all sorts of challenges. The fact of the matter is that nearly everyone is motivated by having someone else to spur them on. In addition to a friend or fellow language learner, seeking out, and then arranging regular meetings with, a language conversation exchange (someone who’s looking to learn your language) will help you come on leaps and bounds.
Talk to Yourself
Obviously your language buddy can’t be with you every second of the day. So at all other times it’s important to keep the language flowing through your brain. Spelling your thoughts out as you walk along ("there’s a tree, there’s a car, there’s a dog" and so on) is a great way to make sure that the vocab is never too far from bubbling away on the surface of your brain.
Keep Challenging Yourself
The greatest obstacle to learning a language – or pretty much anything else – is plateauing. If you get bored, or comfortable with the level you’ve reached, your progress will inevitably slow, then stop and then quite possibly go backwards. Try to find new ways to challenge and motivate yourself. Push on, and who knows where you might get to?
One of the best ways to learn a language fast is obviously to immerse yourself fully in it. And the best way you do that is to visit a country where that language is spoken. Regular short trips or the occasional slightly longer one are going to advance you further, faster than many hours spent with your head in a grammar book.Beyond that, if you get the chance to spend time with a host family, take it. Like a shot. As well as being surrounded by the language that much more than if you were on your own or in a shared apartment with other students, you’ll also see the day-to-day, household culture of the country in action.
Learn a Language Online
The internet is a beautiful thing for anyone looking to learn, well, anything actually. From different online courses to language learning resources, the web makes it possible to learn a new language faster, more easily and more flexibly than ever before.
Looking to study a new language online? Oxford Learning College have teamed up with Net Languages to offer English and Spanish courses. Find out more.