Leaning a new language as an adult can be both challenging and enlightening. Before you dive into picking up this new skill, there are a few things to remember when guiding your learning. Here are three things to know before you attempt to pick up a local language.
Determine Specific Goals
Although it is noble to have lofty goals, you need to be realistic about the amount of language you can pick up over a predetermined amount of time. Deciding what level of fluency you wish to achieve will provide a direction and framework for your learning. Lindsay Does Languages explains, “having specific goals will also prevent discouragement along the way. Be sure to set challenging yet attainable goals in order to achieve the most success.”
Focus on the Words and Phrases You Will Actually Use
When learning a language from the beginning, it is important to direct your learning efforts to the words that you will use the most often in everyday situations. For example, make a list of the foods you like, the environs near the place you are staying, and other important information that you will likely need to access in order to communicate effectively. Every language has a different amount of words in their lexicon, but it’s helpful to know the number of words you need to understand for basic communication. For example, according to Word Counter, there are roughly 470,000 words in the English language, but many of them are obsolete, so after cutting it down we have around 170,000 words, many of which we don’t use in everyday conversation. Some languages can take a lifetime to fully learn based solely on the number of words in their language. Focusing on learning the key phrases and vocabulary that are applicable to you and your lifestyle will make the process run much more smoothly, while providing you with the most useful background.
The benefits of immersion when learning a new language cannot be overstated. Immersion and necessity are the most effective ways to speed up the learning process. Although you want to know a few key phrases before immersing yourself into the language and culture, do not discount the power of immersion as an extraordinary teaching tool. It is one thing to force yourself to learn a new language from the comfort of your own home in your native land. It is something entirely different when you are learning a language out of necessity. MezzoGuild explains, “for true immersion, interact with people and do things you would normally do, but just do it in the language you are surrounded by. People like the chance to feel helpful, so they won’t be mad to help you.” Not only will immersion help you to learn the language much faster, but it will also encourage engagement with the locals and open up your worldview like no other learning experience.
By having a solid plan and a willingness to broaden your horizons, you can approach learning a new language with the expertise and attitude needed to be successful in your endeavors.
Planning an international trip, especially with kids, can be hard. Try to make the process easier by hiring a travel advisor or agent!