There have been a billion articles telling you of the value of learning a new language, so I’m not going to go into that. In the last few years, I have been bitten by the language bug. In my quest to learn as many languages on my list as I can, I have picked up a few secrets to learning fast. These are practical tips that have worked for me and I invite you to give them a try.
Subtitles to TV Shows
When it comes to studying or generally taking one’s life serious, watching television is usually discouraged. However, you could use your love for your favorite TV show as a tool for learning a language and here’s how it works. Most TV shows have subtitles in different languages, available on the net. Head over to a site like www.TVsubtitles.net and see if the show you’re watching has subtitles available in the language of your choice. Video playing software like VLC, allow you to ‘attach’ the subtitle file which you would have downloaded separately. If all this is too complicated, just ask any IT person you know to show you how it works and you’ll be able to do it on your own.
Reading Two Pages
A friend of mine once advised me to read French novels in other to improve my French. One variation to this which I found effective is; reading a news site that is translated into different languages. A good example is the BBC website which gives you options to translate the pages into anything from Swahili to Hausa. Alternating between a translated page and one in English can be very helpful. If you’ve got a tablet, phone or computer, that’s one more thing you could do with it.
Holiday with Purpose
It’s called ‘immersion travel’ but I prefer to call it a holiday with a purpose. Most language schools organize immersion trips or they could at least refer you to a company that does. Many people expect that they can learn a language without spending hours around native speakers. It’s possible to learn the structure in a classroom or cram some of the vocabulary while studying on your own, but your brain would still need to get used to hearing that language. You can achieve this by spending two weeks or more in a destination where your new language of choice is spoken. Failure to do this and you would have to ask native speakers to slow down when they speak to you. You need them to slow down because you still listen like a baby.
Cramming like a Robot
There was a kid in my class in secondary school who came first in Yoruba, exclusively by studying his textbooks and notebooks. He was an Igbo boy who beat out every other student and this was a school in Yoruba speaking Lagos. In my own experience, studying on your own won’t make you fluent in a language but it could save you the expense and time of going to language school. Two hours a day will take you very far and make things easy for those native speakers who are trying to help you practice your speaking.
The Old School
I really mean ‘school’. If you can find a competent language school, you will get a lot of help with your study. Such an institution will offer you private tutorship if you need it. Three hours or so a day might be tough for a lot of busy people to fit into their schedule but a few months of that is a worthwhile commitment which you will thank yourself for.