Learning skills to master a new language

Have you been looking forward to learning a new language or refreshing your knowledge and picking up that foreign language you have already mastered?

Many people have relatively more Time during the New Year to learn a new language.

BBC Word of Mouth host Michael Rosen interviewed Alex Rawlings, who speaks 15 languages, to find out how he has mastered multiple languages. Perhaps it will also provide some practical tips for your language learning.

One, remember – it’s never too late to start learning

When it comes to learning a language, the first thing that comes to mind is age, and the idea that it is best to start at a young age. If you lose the ability to master a foreign language fluently at a certain age, you miss a “critical window” and so on.

A recent study suggests that this so-called critical window is around the age of 17. However, the study only looked at the participants’ ability to become fluent in the grammar of another language.

How many of us can say that we have fully mastered the grammar of our native language? In other words, age is not a barrier to learning a foreign language well, although you may make some grammatical mistakes.

Even if you don’t speak the language perfectly, native speakers don’t care, rather than speaking English loudly and very slowly to others.

Second, learning a language is also learning a skill in itself

Although Alex speaks 15 languages, he told the BBC it’s not because he’s somehow inherently different from others.

He says that when he hears people say he has a “gift” or “genius” makes him uncomfortable. He says he never thought of it that way, and that he didn’t start out with so many languages, which took many years to learn and was a struggle.

So even masters who are fluent in multiple languages are still struggling. Alex says that learning a language is very difficult and it makes you realize that there is so much you don’t know.

It’s true that some people learn languages easier than others, but it’s not because only some people have these abilities, it’s because of curiosity and hard work.

Not only that, Alex explains, but for millions of people around the world, knowing multiple languages is essential to their survival.

For example, in some parts of Africa and South America, you have to be multilingual. If you live in Johannesburg, South Africa, you need to master five languages to survive, because everyone speaks multiple languages.

Third, find the right way to start for you

Alex loves the process of learning vocabulary and finds the process of seeing a word at the beginning and finally becoming a word he has mastered very exciting.

The way he learns is to start with some simple greetings and basic vocabulary, then get used to the language, listen to it a lot, get familiar with its sounds and rhythms, etc. After that, follow a book or course to learn the language. After that, follow a book or course.

Alex’s trick is to make a brain vocabulary map for himself. For example, if he wants to go to the store, he first writes out on paper all the phrases he can think of that he can use in a store environment, and then goes online to find out how to say them, and recites them.

This way, the words to be used to go to the store are solved. Then repeat the same method as needed for the language setting.

Some people also find language application apps better to use. The new crown ban has led to a 132% surge in new users of the free online language learning App, Duolingo.

The advantage of using a language app is also that you are the only one who knows how well you are learning, so you don’t have to be embarrassed in front of your classmates.

Fourth, find ways to create a language environment

There are many ways to learn a foreign language, and it doesn’t have to be in a school environment, just find what works for you.

Alex says that for him the most successful way to learn a language is to not even realize you are learning it, for example, one of the ways is by watching movies and books in the language you are learning.

Linguists say movies and television can provide many visual cues that can be helpful in learning a language. In addition, the tone of voice, facial expressions and body language that accompany certain phrases can help convey their meaning.

At the same time, movies and television can provide language learners with accurate and realistic pronunciation, different accents, dialects, and nuances in the speech of native speakers compared to perfect examples in textbooks.

Alex believes that a learning approach that is just about passing a test makes people lack initiative. He wants language learning to be more about exploring the world and a country’s Culture, which makes it more motivating.

Five, learning and practicing is key

Depending on what your native language is, learning another language can be difficult or easy. If there are more similarities, it will be easier to learn.

For example, native English speakers have the easiest time learning French, Spanish, Norwegian, and Afrikaans, and they only need about 600 hours of study to reach basic fluency.

However, if they learn Japanese, Korean, and Arabic, it is much more difficult.

The most effective method is to study and practice a little bit (one hour) a day, which may be better than long but intermittent study.

Six, the more languages or dialects you master, the better

Studies show that bilingual people are faster at learning a new language than people who speak only one language.

And, even among stroke victims, those who can speak more than two languages are more likely to regain cognitive function than those who speak only a single language. There are even studies that show that bilinguals can also delay dementia (commonly known as dementia).

In addition, linguistic studies have found that even people who speak two dialects of the same language have the same cognitive characteristics as bilinguals.

Another study showed that children who spoke multiple languages and two dialects had higher memory, attention, and cognitive flexibility than children who spoke only one language.

In Norway, children who learned to write in two Norwegian dialects scored much higher than the national average on standardized tests.

So, whether you want to practice your language for a holiday trip, watch a foreign film or read a book without subtitles, talk to new friends or colleagues, or simply stimulate your brain with some activity, get moving and stop making excuses.