I Can Speak 5 Languages. Here’s How You Can, Too.

As I am currently on a challenge to learn my sixth language, I experimented with many different ways to strengthen my language learning skills. That allowed me to discover steps that are not usually used but are very helpful.

Here are some of the more interesting ones that you can follow.

Time does not matter

We often focus only on the goal but forget to concentrate on the process, the present. The progression is what leads us to our goal.

Forget about grammatical errors and pronunciation initially and progress like a baby. Babies flip first, then crawl and gradually walk with stumbles and someday start walking and running steadily without needing any additional assistance.

Just like how every baby develops at a different pace, we thrive differently too.

Daily exposure

This is by far the most important factor to keep in mind. We acquire the language we hear every day and that is how we learnt our first language.

Watch shows in the language you are learning. Listening to songs will also suffice if you do not have enough time. You can watch the dubbed version of the shows or listen to them in the language you prefer while you carefully follow the subtitles.

Soon, you will be able to identify the tiny differences in translation and your pace will increase with practice.

Have a dedicated notebook

Use the notebook to note down unknown vocabulary that you come across while listening to songs or watching series and movies.

Lyric videos can help identify words missing from your set of vocabulary. There are plenty of cooking videos online which can help you learn the names of various ingredients and local foods. Watching children's songs works wonders too.

You get to learn the names of different fruits, vegetables and body parts as the rhythm gets stuck in your brain.

Watch cartoons in that language

Look for cartoons that will amuse you while you learn. Since they usually use easy vocabulary, you can match their pace comfortably.

I learned Spanish from Dora the Explorer, and Korean from a popular 90s cartoon. The younger you are, the more likely it is that you will pick up a language fast. I did this with other languages as well and can very well vouch for its validity.

Read a children's book and/or a short anthology

Once you become an advanced learner, getting a short book might not seem like a bad idea. You can also find PDF versions online. If you already know the story, you're at an advantage. Learning local folktales works well too.

Think in that language

You will realise you are making good progress when you see dreams in the language you are learning.

While you are ranting in your head or brainstorming, why not think in a different language? Imagine talking to yourself or a favourite celebrity when you are bored. Pronunciation and confidence will naturally rush in.

Simply discover a way that amuses you and your progress will feel natural.

Ayra Areeba Abid's favourite word is 'serendipity' and she's a linguistics geek. Connect with her at [email protected]