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Five Tricks for Learning a New Language

written by: Larry M. Lynch • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 9/28/2012

Learning any foreign language can be a time-consuming, frustrating task. There seems to be so much to memorize, practice and do in language learning. So try these five tips to make learning your new language easier.

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    “The Way I Learned English … “

    “The way I learned English, I wish I had more help”, says Filipina Felina Sarion adding, “So now I only talk crooked English.” She echoes the sentiments of many foreign language learners. But all is not lost. Learning a foreign language can be challenging, yet rewarding in more ways than you can initially count. To help all of you embarked on this life-altering task, allow me to offer you my five best tips for successful foreign language learning and wish you good luck.

    Here they are for enhancing and enriching your foreign language learning experience:

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    frustrated learner CU EXAMS May 2005 171 

    1. Practice Daily

    It cannot be stressed enough that the most successful language learning occurs in short, simple stages taken regularly over a period of time. Forget marathon sessions once a week to pick up a foreign language. Yes, you will learn something and even place it in your short-term memory, but what will you recall or be able to use the next day? Next week or next month?

    Likely, zipadee-do-dah, zilch, zip, zero or nada - that’s what.

    Why? Because that’s probably not how your brain works, although in some people – usually called Savants or with a form of Autism, their brain may well function differently from yours or mine. As an example of this you can reference: “I Can Learn Welsh in a Week”.

    2. Don’t Be Afraid to Speak

    During the initial language learning period, there is a stage called “Silent Learning”. During this relatively brief period, the language learner often refrains from speaking, preferring rather, to listen and watch the foreign language being spoken and used. If you’re more than 12 to 14 years old, dump this idea and make every effort to speak the language you are trying to learn. Lip-sync, sing, listen and repeat, read aloud and recite poetry and passages in the new language. Get – and keep – those lips moving.

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    3. Use a Variety of Resources

    “What’s the best way to learn a foreign language?” Ah, but if I but had a buck for every time I’ve been asked that question, I’d be retired and living somewhere on the Mediterranean coast. The short answer is, of course, there’s really no “single best way” to learn a foreign language. And the most effective language learning methods vary from one person to another. Ever hear of the Theory of Multiple Intelligences? In short then, you should use a broad range of different language learning resources and methods to ensure the best results from your efforts.

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    4. Read Aloud

    If there’s any one, best, virtually always effective strategy for language learning improvement, in my opinion, it has to be the technique of reading aloud. It’s such an effective language learning method it’s been used for thousands of years and is even mentioned multiple times in the Holy Bible as a way to internalize ideas and information. Don’t take my word for it though, read Psalms chapter 1: verse 2, Joshua chapter 1: verse 8 or Psalms chapter 71: verse 24.

    Reading aloud simultaneously develops pronunciation, connected speech, listening comprehension, and lexical or vocabulary skills in context while strongly promoting memorization and internalization of the material. Think about it, when you really want to learn something what’s the first thing you try to do? That’s right – you say it to yourself over and over and over again, until you’re dreaming about it and babbling it in your sleep, right?

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    5. Watch Television and Movies

    Who doesn’t like to watch movies and videos? Unless you’re from Krypton or nearby, watching recorded movies, programs and videos will speed up your language learning immensely. My preferred television program type for language learner practice is soap operas. Know why? It’s because they have several desirable language learning features which counteract the fact that they’re usually mindless dribble which are simply venues to strong emotional outbursts. But I digress. First, record some interesting episodes and programs, then play them repeatedly mimicking the characters. In a movie, you might select a couple of scenes to re-enact with YOU (or your language learners) as the principal players.

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    Well, there you have it, five of my best tips for successful foreign language learning. Feel free to try one, two or even all of them as the opportunity presents itself. No matter which foreign language you’re pursuing and no matter where you may live, these five tips will stand you in good stead for communicating in a foreign tongue.

    So, Good Luck, Spiel Gluck or ¡Buena Suerte!