If you were to dedicate 3½ hours daily to learning a new language, it would take you 24 weeks to master it, according to a report by The Foreign Service Institute of The U.S Department of State. This is provided the language is categorized as easy – the likes of Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Medium level languages like Polish and Russian, and difficult ones like Japanese and Arabic take up to 44 and 88 weeks respectively to master. Learning your target language before going to study abroad is key to seamlessly adjusting to the new environment. You will, after all, need to order food, understand class lessons and converse with the people you meet. Even if you were to increase the number of hours you study your target language to 10, it would still take you 3 months to be proficient, and this may not be time you have. Luckily, here are a few tricks you can use to master a foreign language quickly.
Join A Community
Look for people in your city who speak your language of interest or who are learning it as well. The best thing about joining such a community is that you will begin to learn the language subconsciously. Just by listening to and making conversations with others, you will learn various aspects of the language, from vocabulary and grammar to pronunciation and intonation, and perhaps more importantly, slang. You can encourage each other to speak the foreign language when doing the most mundane tasks like ordering food and participating in casual cafe or bar chats. You can rest assured you will learn new vocabulary during every hang out, which you should write down and practice forming sentences with later on when you are alone.
Find A Paypal
It may sound like something your elementary self would do, but the truth is, whatever your age, finding a pen pal is one of the best ways of learning a foreign language and improving your writing skills in it. At the end of the day, you will need to master not only the spoken aspect, but also the written language. By exchanging letters, you will be able to trade language expertise. Your penpal can rewrite your original letter, correcting any spelling or grammar errors, and send it back to you; you can do the same for them. Sending letters might seem like a lot of work, especially if you factor in long post service queues. However, thanks to technology, you can learn to print stamps online with OnlineStamp. This should make posting pen pal letters easier and less time-consuming. Either way, regularly writing to a pen pal is said to boost your language skills tenfold according to The Linguist.
Keep It Fun
Learning a new language shouldn’t only involve a lot of study hours and dictionaries. It should be fun and entertaining, or it will soon turn into a boring and draining task. Watching movies in your target language is one way you can learn it while still entertaining yourself. At first, you can use subtitles. However, as you progress, turn them off, listen to the language being spoken, analyze the happenings of the movie, and try to figure out what they are saying. You can then write the new words down and look them up later to see if you were right. Alternatively, you can listen to radio stations or podcasts in your target language. You can also fill up your playlist with music in the language. Music is a proven tool when it comes to learning foreign languages for three reasons: it sticks; it is portable, so you can learn from anywhere at any time; and it helps you master the language faster, as it presents vocabularies in context and still teaches you pronunciation.
Learning a new language is challenging, no doubt. Nevertheless, by taking every opportunity you get to practice, it is doable. The secret lies in letting your brain do the work of connecting vocabularies and grammar before running for translators and dictionaries. Learning a new language should be done in an organized manner. Start with basic phrases such as greetings, and then move to learning vocabularies in a particular field, before moving on to another area, like food, clothing or professional terminology. Signing up for online classes and using language applications like Duolingo can also help you master a foreign language fast.