Particularly if your native language is English, it is not always essential to have any other languages in your repertoire in order to travel the world.
Sure it may be more difficult in certain situations, but you can generally make yourself understood eventually and get by because many people the world over speak, or strive to speak some level of English.
However, learning the language of a country you are planning on travelling in opens up a whole new world of opportunity and experiences.
It will enable you to have more meaningful interactions with the people who live locally and also provide you with a deeper cultural experience because you will be able to go beyond a usual tourist experience.
It means that you can ask specific questions about the way of life in a country you are exploring and get advice from people who actually live there, rather than just guidebooks. Having a grasp of the native language will not only enrich your travels but will also make them safer if you are able to effectively communicate.
Ready to start learning a new language? Let’s dive in with the basic principles.
Repetition is Key
Studies say that you have to encounter a new word seven times before it being committed to your long term memory. Your brain will automatically go for the easiest and quickest option, so you need to essentially lock yourself out of the comfort zone of your native language and use your willpower to make your brain go over something as many times as needed until it becomes second nature.
Learn Words You will Use
Trying to commit new words to memory that you will hardly ever use in day to day conversations is a waste of time when you start out, so be sure to build your vocabulary with words that have a functional use for you.
Learning vocabulary within a context will make it easier to remember new words, so, for this reason, it’s also often helpful to learn a new language in whole sentences.
Keep a Notebook With You
A very useful attribute to have when learning a second language is curiosity, the desire to understand something foreign to you. So when you come across words or phrases you don’t yet know, write them down to look up later. The act of writing words down by hand has also been scientifically proven to aid your memory in remembering the information.
Getting Started Is The Hardest Part
Stop planning and start learning today. People want lots of things that they never actually do anything about. Thinking and talking about learning a language tricks our brains into thinking we’re taking steps towards our goals, but really we’re not. A large part of learning a new language is not about skill or how good your memory is, it’s about having the confidence to make a commitment and the right attitude to see it through.
Practice With Native Speakers
This part of your studying will allow you to really focus on actively listening and pronunciation which is very important. Ask for constructive criticism but put more value on fluency than accuracy. That will come later naturally.
To start with, your mouth and tongue need to get used to making new sounds that you may have never made before. Conversing with native speakers is also an easy way of correcting bad habits before they become ingrained.
Be Prepared For It To Take A Long Time
Setting targets to track your progress will build your confidence, however, be realistic with your language learning goals. If they are too hard to achieve, having them will only set you back, so get real and start slow. Best you feel like you are overachieving than underachieving. Try not to compare yourself to others too, everyone learns at different paces so just focus on you and your progress.
Don’t Be Embarrassed To Speak
One of the most common barriers to language learning is the fear of making mistakes. But you are going to make mistakes, lots of them – it’s an essential part of the process. So the best way to approach it is to welcome and embrace mistakes. Obviously you need to learn the rules, but don’t worry about or focus on them too much when speaking, just let yourself go. The most important thing is that you try and practice.
When learning a new language you need to be calm and relaxed. If it becomes a stressful process that causes you frustration, your progress will be significantly hindered.
Whereas if you are enjoying yourself and having a pleasant experience, your brain will be absorbing the new information to its fullest capacity. Whether it’s reading, watching films or listening to music, do things that you enjoy doing in your native language in your new language.
Know Your Learning Style
What works for someone else might not work for you so you need to figure out how you personally learn best. There are four main learning styles, visual, auditory, kinesthetic and tactile.
If you’re unsure which you are, you can take a test here. Knowing this will help you maximise your potential and efficiency when learning a new language.
Study Little and Often
Make learning a habit within your daily routine and use any opportunity you have to learn, even if it’s just 5 minutes while you are waiting for a bus. Your language learning techniques should be things you do even when you are tired and sick because learning a new language is a long term commitment and essentially requires you to adapt your lifestyle around it.
So start today, make mistakes and create habits, but most of all have fun and enjoy the journey.
Let us know in the comments if you’re in the process of learning a new language and if you have any tips that help you with your studies!
This article is by Lingoo, the world’s biggest language exchange and homestay club. Lingoo gives language learners of all ages the power to decide how they would like to learn and practice a language and helps teachers and hosts to deliver authentic language learning experiences.