Practical Tips for Learning a New Language at Any Age

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America's monolingualism is infamous around parts of the world. Walk into a cafe in Paris or a restaurant in Bangkok and you'll likely be met with a wide array of bilingual speakers. Even outside these large tourist cities, many countries make an effort to teach their kids a second language starting in elementary school.

This is one area where America falls far behind. With more jobs requiring bilingualism and traveling abroad easier than ever, learning a second language can really come in handy.

We've all heard that learning a new language is harder as you age. But, don't worry - it's not too late! With some smart tips and tricks, you'll be able to master a second language.

Do you want to know what there are? Keep reading to learn how to learn a new language at any age.

Learn the Most Common Words First

You may feel overwhelmed when you decide to learn a new language. Where do you start?! Should you focus on pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, or basic sentence structure?

While every aspect of language learning is important, vocabulary tops them all. Let's say you're in Spain and you want to find the bathroom. What's more important - knowing the word for "bathroom" or knowing the proper grammar rules? Most people would assume you're looking for the restroom after hearing that one word.

Start by learning the 100 most common words. You can group related words together and focus on a small chunk at a time. Or you could also use your SAT learning vocabulary strategies.

Once you've mastered this list, move on to Spanish adjectives and try to form simple sentences. Knowing the most common words will make everything else seem easier.

Practice Every Day

We've all heard the cliche? - if you don't use it, you lose it. Well, that goes for learning a new language too. You may think that skipping one day won't hurt, but that can quickly turn into two days, then a week, then a month!

Before you know it, you'll be back at square one. Make an effort to integrate learning a new language into your daily life. This doesn't have to be in the form of a class.

While you're out and about, look around you. Try to think of the word for every object you see. Pay attention to your small thoughts throughout the day, like "mmm that coffee smells great" and try to translate it into the new language. It won't take any extra time out of your day and you'll be learning practical language skills.

Make it Fun

Are you trying to figure out how to learn a new language by yourself while balancing work and family responsibilities? When you finally hit the couch to relax at 8:00 p.m., learning a new language is probably the last thing you want to do.

The best way to stay motivated is to make it fun. Translate your favorite song and sing it at the top of your lungs or learn how to make photo quilts and translate the instructions. These may seem silly, but it'll make language learning seem like less of a chore and more of a hobby.

Listen to Others Speaking the Language

The best way to learn a new language is to surround yourself with it. While you may not be able to move to Mexico or Italy, you can find ways to bring that language into your home.

Try to find TV shows, movies, podcasts, or videos in the language you want to learn. Sit back and enjoy the show while repeating some of the sentences that are on your level. This will help you with every aspect of your language skills, from vocabulary and pronunciation to sentence structure and grammar rules.

But this is a great time to focus on pronunciation. Consider how similar words like "sleeve" and "leave" are. Even small mispronunciations can lead to a lot of confusion. Repeat any words that you may have been saying incorrectly until it becomes second nature.

Have a Conversation

The best way to learn a new language is to have a conversation. Talking to a native speaker will give you an opportunity to be corrected and learn where you are making mistakes. While you probably know some weak areas, there are likely some words and phrases you may not realize are incorrect.

Having conversations with a fellow learner is also a good technique. You can practice what you've learned and motivate each other to keep going. Most importantly, you'll feel accomplished seeing how you can use your skills in a real-life setting.

Returned to What You've Learned

Last month you learned words for various foods, and this month you focused on kitchen appliances. You're trying to say, "will you put the strawberries in the blender" but can't seem to remember the word for "strawberries." What now?

In school, we're often taught to keep moving forward. Some key ideas may carry over from previous chapters, but we don't keep revisiting chapter one over and over again. But that's the best way to learn a new language.

If you don't keep practicing those vocabulary words and sentence structures from last week or last month, you'll forget them. Walk around your house and think of the words for what you see (using adjectives, too). This will allow you to remember more words and grow your skills faster.

Tips for Learning a New Language

If you're learning a new language, you may be overwhelmed at all the work that goes into it. But, it doesn't have to be so strenuous. Just follow our tips and tricks and you'll be speaking a second language in no time!

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