Whether you only speak your native tongue or are fluent in a dozen languages, the best ways to learn a new language remain the same.
Learning to speak a foreign language regularly tops people’s bucket lists and New Year’s Resolutions, yet many fail to commit to the project. And really, commitment is the key – there is no magic spell that creates fluency in a new learner.
As with so many other new skills, the best ways to learn a new language involve dedication, repetition, and a positive mental attitude.
The 5 Best Ways to learn a new language
With that said, here are a few tips that might ease you along your journey: five things that we consider the best ways to learn a new language.
Perhaps the most important lesson of all comes before you ever attempt your first pronunciation of a foreign word.
In order to learn a new language, you must be motivated to do so. If you try to develop this new skill while thinking of it as a chore, then the odds are good that you won’t keep it up.
A positive mental attitude to the language itself, the process involved in learning it, and your own ability to succeed will prove the best ways to learn a new language.
Hopefully, learning for its own sake will be sufficient motivation for you. If not, then there should really be some external impetus for acquiring this new skill. Perhaps you have friends who have English as a second language and you would like to speak with them fluently in their own tongue.
Maybe your career prospects would be better if you were bilingual and prepared to take an overseas posting. Then again, it could be something as simple as planning a family vacation abroad and wishing to converse with the locals.
Having a goal and a definite reason for learning will greatly improve your chances of success.
Learning a new language takes time, there’s no escaping it.
To become thoroughly proficient in a foreign language can take years of practice. At the very least, you will need to commit yourself to an hour, each and every day, of learning your new language, if you’re to get the most out of it.
Of course, it needn’t be a single, unbroken hour. Splitting it up into a couple of half-hour sessions, or a handful of 15-minute moments when you get the chance can work just as well. It’s all a matter of being consistent.
3. Exposure to meaningful content
One of the best ways to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it. This doesn’t mean selling all your belongings and moving overseas in the hopes of cultivating real fluency in another tongue. It does mean, dipping into the language as it’s spoken, and as it’s written, rather than by using textbook examples. Go native.
Flick through a foreign-language newspaper, listen to the appropriately dubbed audio track on one of your favourite films, bring up a YouTube video in that particular language.
Understanding what is written down or being said is not the key here (although it certainly helps in that regard).
What we learn from exposure is noticing: the rhythms, the movement, and the syntax of the language itself. When applied to a growing vocabulary, it makes the process much more natural.
4. Repetition and novelty
It seems like a contradiction in terms, but it’s really the way that we learn anything and is among the best ways to learn a new language.
As we start our journey we pick up the odd word or phrase here and there and learn to spot it in conversation or on the written page.
The act of repetition makes us comfortable with the words we have already learned and allowed us to use them as anchors in more unfamiliar pieces of text or speech.
Of course, learning by rote will only get you so far, so we need to constantly introduce new examples of the language (again, be they verbal or written) so that we expand our vocabulary along with our understanding of how the language is structured.
These two aspects together – the exposure, and the repetition of same – is really the key to learning any new skill, but especially language.
5. A helping hand
All examples above are among the best ways to learn a new language. In the past, this would have involved poring over textbooks or sitting in a classroom learning phrases and words by rote. These days, there are several technological advancements that can greatly assist the learning process.
The ScanMarker OCR reader is a digital Optical Character Recognition device that can be used in all four of the learning techniques listed above.
Lightweight and held like a pen, it can be drawn across any line of text and instantly convert it into usable data. This technology is often used by the visually impaired, as it can convert the writing to an audio narration, or by students who can convert their handwritten notes into editable text.
However, with its ability to translate the scanned text into as many as 80 languages, the ScanMarker easily becomes one of the best ways to learn a new language.
Granted, you will still need to supply the positive mental attitude and put aside the time to learn, but the ScanMarker can assist with almost everything else. You can quickly learn common phrases by scanning it in English and playing it back audibly in the language of your choice.
Likewise, you can display in the written language, to familiarise yourself with how it looks on paper. The reverse is also true.
If you’re reading a Spanish-language newspaper, for instance, and wish to check that you’ve translated it correctly in your head, simply scan the text with ScanMarker, and translate into English for instant confirmation.
While it cannot teach you the ins and outs of a foreign tongue, with its vast array of translation options, both visual and audible, the ScanMarker is a powerful teaching tool, and one of the best ways to learn a new language.