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Learning a language can be a long and difficult process! Of course how difficult it is really depends on what language you are learning but also mostly on your reasons behind it and your motivation.
Remember when you were taking language classes at school but even after years of studying you are often not able to have a proper conversation in that language. So why is that?
What classes at school are missing is often the connection between the classroom and the outside world. Why exactly are you learning a language? How are you going to combine that language into your day-to-day life? And most importantly, how are you going to practise and maintain that language outside of the classroom.
In this blog post I want to cover a few things that you need that will assure that learning a language can be successful. Just signing up for language classes alone often won’t do the trick, so let’s figure out what else you will need.
A reason to learn the language
This I would say is the most important thing if you want to learn a new language. You need to have a reason why you are learning it. If you are just studying it because you have to, then you won’t be able to study it successfully really.
Find your motivation and figure out why you want to learn that specific language. And there are a lot of different reasons for wanting to speak a language. For example you want to travel and speak with locals, your family speaks the language, you have friends that speak it or you are interested in the culture of a certain country and therefore decide to learn the language.
Whatever your reasons are, you just need to have your motivation before you start studying.
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A connection between the classroom and the real world
In a video about language learning I have learned that the reason why high school students often don’t know anything about a language even after years of taking classes, is the lack of a connection between the classroom and the real world. And nothing has ever made as much sense to me.
If you have to learn a language in school you most likely won’t learn to speak it fluently because you have not yet made this connection. Find a reason for learning this specific language and try combining it into your normal daily life. This can be done by for example, watching TV series in that language, traveling to a country where that language is spoken or just finding some friends that know the language.
Often, a language is best learned by just speaking if you don’t really have another choice. But most of the times, we do have another option. Lots of people around the globe speak English and if you really don’t want to speak a language nobody is forcing you to.
So what you do need are the resources that allow you to practise and emerge yourself into the new language. This can be a language course, online material, TV shows or friends that want to help you with studying that specific language.
Ability to practise
There is no point in learning a language and studying all the grammar, when you don’t actually get to practise it. After all, speaking is the most important part of language learning.
So also do make sure you can actually practise what you have learned. If you have the possibility to, you can go abroad and practise in a country where the language is spoken. Let that be as part of a study abroad programme, vacation or volunteering.
But of course that is not possible most of the time so try to find some friends that speak the language. You can also join language exchanges or use apps like HelloTalk to connect with people from all across the world that speak your language and in return you can help them learn your native language.
Not only speaking but also listening is important. You can practise your listening skills with Netflix shows, the radio or Youtube Channels. Just try to find something that you enjoy. So for me, for example, I am currently trying to improve my Dutch and I really love Formula 1, so on my way to work I try to listen to a Dutch Formula 1 podcast to improve my listening skills.
And lastly, of course, you need a lot of time. Some people seem to find it easier to learn a new language than others, but either way, don’t expect to learn a new language over night. You will need to practise consistently and invest some time into learning a new language.
And these were all the most important things you need when learning a new language. Have fun studying and becoming fluent in whatever language you want to work on.
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