by Sean Hopwood
Language learning is a thrilling experience and a chance for personal and professional growth.
There are many ways to go about learning a new language. In this article, we'll explore four highly-effective, unconventional and fun ways to learn a language that maybe you haven't considered.
Of course, learning a second language is more than memorizing rules, patterns, and definitions. It's about knowing how the language is used in daily life, as well as some of its cultural context, so you can communicate in a spontaneous, genuine and meaningful way.
Learning a language abroad has incomparable benefits. But it might be very tricky to get into exchanges and work abroad programs, since they sometimes require extraordinary resumes and tons of paperwork, from a certified translation of your diplomas and academic certificates to documents proving your international working or academic relationship with an institution or business. On the other hand, taking an international language course can be incredibly expensive. But you don't have to walk a single mile to start integrating your target language into your daily life.
As suggested by TED translator Olga Dmitrochenkova, you can begin approaching a second language by integrating into the details of your daily life.
If you're just learning nouns, you can make labels in your target language, for objects around your house
If you're not already looking for movies, TV shows and music in your target language, you should start now. It's a great way to learn how the language is used is context, and it makes learning a lot lighter and easier.
Until your reading level in your target language rises up to pair with your reading level in your native language, read what you can: Even if that means reading children's books. On the other hand, considering that learning how language works is one of the most common themes in children's literature, they can be doubly helpful.
Of course, if children's books seem too dull for you, even as devices to explore a second language, you've got plenty of other options: Some Young Adult novels or short stories by authors with uncomplicated, straightforward writing styles might work too.
Language cafes are like regular cafes but with the special purpose of linguistic exchange. You can drop by, join a table of speakers of a certain language, and practice your language by having a conversation in it. In certain areas, and, for sure, in cosmopolitan cities, language cafes have the added value of being obvious spots where to find native speakers of foreign languages. So, if you're outgoing, not afraid of making mistakes and looking for the benefits of learning a language by using it with native speakers, this is a great option for you.
Much like language cafes, online classes entail the opportunity of having a conversation with a native. Unlike language cafes, the natives in question tend to be highly-trained to aid your learning process. And, unlike language cafes, you don't even have to leave your home to ripe didactic benefits.
Online classes might be especially attractive if you're in an area where learners and native speakers of your target language are rare.
As explained by Professor H. Douglas Brown, ex-President of International TESOL:
“A significant difference between current language teaching practices and those of, say, a half a century ago, is the absence of proclaimed 'orthodoxies' and 'best' methods. We are well aware that methods, as they were conceived of 40 or 50 years ago or so, are too narrow and too constrictive to apply to a wide range of learners in an enormous number of situational contexts. There are no instant recipes. No quick and easy method is guaranteed to provide success.”
Find what works for you, do your best and have fun with your second language and the cultures that surround it.
Sean Patrick Hopwood is the President and Founder of Day Translations, Inc., a certified translation services provider.
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