I guess I expected too much from my Spanish education– that is, the 3 years in middle school and 2 years in high school where I sat in a class called “Spanish Class”. In fact, during this five year span, I think I spent more time copying exercises from my best friend’s workbook and making fun of the games than I did actually trying to learn Spanish.
The cause of my disinterest was that I didn’t understand how valuable knowing a second language is, not only for college and professional reasons, but for the purpose of communicating with different cultures both at home and abroad. I think everyone who loves to travel should know at least one other language.
At least now I’m taking Spanish classes taught in Spanish, in Spain, and I think I’m off to a good start.
If you’re serious about learning a foreign language, here are 5 ways you can learn a foreign language [relatively] fast.
- Get Down the Basics: Ok, first for the boring/hard part. Get your foundations by reading a language book or taking a class. Learn sentence structure, verb tenses and basic vocabulary. You’ll definitely appreciate having a solid understanding of the language basics later on when you try to form your own sentences.
- Change Settings of Everything into the Foreign Language: It takes me an extra few minutes to edit photos, make phone calls and post to Facebook because I have changed my language settings to Spanish for EVERYTHING. I also watch English movies dubbed in Spanish, watch Spanish TV, listen to Spanish music, and do pretty much anything else I can to immerse myself in the language. Changing the settings on your electronics is a good way to integrate language learning into your everyday life, and you’ll be surprised how much vocabulary you pick up.
- Make Word Lists: Translate vocabulary in your head. If you don’t know the word, look it up! When unloading your groceries, recite the words for the different vegetables. Label stuff around your house to pick up furniture vocabulary. Mentally make sentences about things you do throughout the day. Pick useful words for the things you do and say in English, and look them up in the foreign language. Then keep the words on your desk or on your phone to review throughout the day. The more you reuse the words, the more they’ll stick.
- Practice Speaking & Listening: The ability to understand the foreign language on paper is a good start, but in order to communicate, you’ll need to learn how to listen and speak. Active skills are harder to master! If you have a friend or family member who speaks the language or is also learning, try chatting with them. If not, check out a website like Conversation Exchange where you can find conversation partners in your area. It’s a good opportunity to make a new friend and test your language skills!
- Travel Abroad: Of course, the best way to really learn your new language is to use it in real life situations. The more time you can spend abroad, the less you’ll sound like a Spanish textbook robot. Besides, there’s no more fun or relevant way to learn a language!
What creative methods do you use to learn or practice your foreign language? Tell us all about them in the comments below or on Facebook! Happy Learning! (Click here if you can’t see comments below: Learning Espanol in Espanol, in Espana: How to Learn a Language Fast)