A Lil' Guide to learning a Foreign Language

Teaching yourself a new language but you can't get around at being good at it?

You're probably thinking that learning a new language may seem easy because you can just learn the grammar and expand your vocabulary, but honestly it is more than that.

When learning a new language, you don't consider just learning the vocab and grammar, you also have to consider pronunciation, different sayings (like slang, informal or formal languages), the writing system (like the alphabet), homophones, etc. Learning a new language is difficult - trust me, it took me couple of years to understand and practice the conjugation of verbs in different participles in French and months to memorise and get use to the Hiragana system in Japanese.

So, if you are learning a foreign language by yourself and are struggling then here I will write down a short guide with some tips and advice based on my past experiences from learning languages!

Buy a dictionary. You don't know how important a dictionary is when learning a new language. It is your best friend that will help you expand your vocabulary and be there for you when you don't know what a word is when reading or watching in the language you're learning.

Also buy lots of textbooks and workbooks. Buying textbooks and workbooks will help a loooong way: textbooks will have all the information you need on the grammar and workbooks will test your knowledge with a series of exercises and questions.

Read and watch shows/films in the language you're learning. This will help give you an idea of how those people speak (articulation and accent) and pronunciation of words. For example, in Japanese people pronounce their R's like L's. It will also help you practice your understanding and listening skills.

Talk to people who speak your learning language. Doing this will help you practice your speaking skills and learn more about different sayings/slang. Ask that person for constructive criticism so you know what you can work on and improve. Timothy Doner, the youngest polyglot, has taught himself and mastered 23 languages by speaking to people around him and online through YouTube!

Practice you're writing skills by writing a story. I mean, you don't have to create your own story, you can simply translate an extract from a book or a song or poem or something from a film or TV show.

Write down everything you learn. You can keep a vocabulary book, where you write down every new word you learn. Writing down what you learned will help you memorise them.

You can also keep a grammar book, where every time you learn a new grammatical rule, you write it down (include an example to make it easier to understand when you look back on it!)

Test your vocabulary with flash cards. Write down the english word (or whatever your original speaking language is) on a card and write down its translation in the back. Then, have someone hold out the card or say the word and you have to translate it.

Listen to songs in the language. This will also help expand your vocabulary and familiarise you with articulation.

If you can, visit the country that speaks your learning language. You will be immersed in the language. At school, we had a French Immersion trip, where we went to Lille. Throughout the trip, we had to speak only french and no english. It was honestly a nightmare but it was very helpful!

This is all you need to know when learning a foreign language! Hopefully, this will guide you to fluency in the language you're learning!

Remember, don't be too hard on yourself when you can't get it right - it takes lots of practice and time so be patient! You will get there eventually.

Nicole ᵔ

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