by Mary Whitman
Why I should learn a foreign language? Learning a new language takes a lot of self-discipline, dedication and time. Some of the more popular reasons include for study: maybe you've got a scholarship in a foreign country or working in a new country.
You may also have friends who live abroad, and you want to reconnect with, you could just be challenging yourself, have a special linguistic interest or even want to join a new religion. Everyone is motivated differently. Regardless of your reason, having one is usually the greatest motivating factor for pushing you forward. So, how challenging could it be?
Knowing more than one language and looking cool while doing it aside, learning a new language can be very beneficial psychologically. Studies carried out in the recent past suggest people who speak more than one language have different brains than those who don't.
This comes with several perks: you become better at recognizing patterns, essentially meaning you're now smarter; you will improve your memory; fight off dementia and Alzheimer's; and will be more perceptive.
How do children learn the meaning of words without picking up a dictionary? That's right. Context. When reading, try to force yourself to guess the meaning of a word without looking it up.
Having like-minded people do the same thing as they help a lot with motivation. The two biggest advantage of this is group discussion helps exchange different ideas and hearing words spoken helps connect how the words look with how they sound.
Many popular books like Harry Potter have been translated into different languages. Reading them in your new language is a great opportunity to transfer your knowledge over.
There's little to no chance you'll understand every single word in a book on your first read. At first, your main goal should be to reach the end of the book.
Not at first, anyway. It's important to accept that there's no way your brain can accept such a barrage of input in such a short time.
Instead of reading Alessandro Volta's 1200 dissertation on electricity and power to learn Italian, it would be better to look for short stories in the destination language. Most languages, in fact have books designed just for beginners.
Again, comics often have simpler language patterns than novels and provide visual context.
After all, you are studying. And what's studying without noting down what you've learnt?
After the day's done, try writing down how it was in the language you're learning.
If you're a fan of forum-like chats like Reddit or Tumblr, browse subreddits or tumblrs in your foreign language to give you a feel.
If you like cooking, look up your favorite recipe in a foreign language!
Since you won't understand everything on the first read, it would be greatly beneficial to have a second, third, fourth… and so on, read to gauge your progress.
Some difficulties you're going to have in learning a new language will be making faux pas: for instance, exquisito in Spanish means strange, not exquisite. This can be learned by making use of context. Distractions are another barrier, which you can avoid by studying in a library or in a group; shallowness: unwillingness to dig deeper - always be curious; and laziness - again, group reading can help.
Reading in or a foreign language can be quite a task. However, as long as you're willing to put in the effort and time, the benefits are going to be astounding. These tips are meant to ease you into the process as effortlessly as possible.
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