How to Learn Another Language (And Why It's Important)

I’ve been fortunate enough to speak two languages before even realizing the importance of bilingualism. I moved to the US at 11 years old and went to a boarding school to hone my English, as I knew not a word but “please and thank you”. Quite literally, I remember how my brother taught me the words “shut up” in English. To be honest, for a long time I didn’t like that Russian was my native language and was quite embarrassed of it. I wanted to know English fluently and thought that the only way to achieve that was to have been born with English as a first language. Below I’ll tell you how I mastered English and started to learn Spanish, what helped me and what didn’t, so when you start on your journey, you won’t make the mistakes that I did.

  1. 1. Never forget your roots

    Hawaii Girl Happy Biking Fun Peace

    Never, never be ashamed of where you came from or that you speak another language.  Think of it this way: when you learned to bike, were you ever ashamed that you knew how to walk or that you walked better? No, you only thought of biking as another means of transport, and that once you’ve learned it, it’ll be fun. It's the same with language. Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll love the ride. 

  2. 2. Learn the basic grammar before you jump into words

    two friends laughing

    In almost all languages (English and Spanish, I know for sure), most of the words are not used in a daily conversation. It will be beneficial to you to know them, but at first they might seem intimidating. I recommend knowing the grammar first so you can make a couple of sentences out of the same words. 

    For example, with just a few words you can make three sentences. Let’s say the words are: oatmeal, coffee and work. I’ll try to say them in Spanish, as I am learning Spanish right now. 

    Ahora yo estoy trabajando y comiendo oatmeal y bebiendo un café. 

    Ayer yo fue trabaje mientras bebe café y comiendo oatmeal. 

    Yo espero que yo será comer pronto, después terminado trabajar porque yo quiero oatmeal y un café.  

    You see? That’s a whole conversation right there! So make sure to get the tenses (like past, future, and present) correct. Honestly, I think they’re the hardest part of any language.

  3. 3. Immerse yourself in the language

    Spencer Davis

    Especially when you’re just beginning to learn a new language, try to speak, listen to, or surround yourself in that language more often than in your native language. I’ve seen many international students come to the US with the desire to learn English, yet I constantly hear them talking in their native language. If you spent money and time to move to another country, try to get your money’s worth by practicing in the language you'd like to learn.

  4. 4. Have patience and stay consistent 

    girl stressed at computer

    Lastly, I’ll be honest with you. Unless you’ll be able to live a year in a country of your chosen language, you probably won’t become fluent in it. Learning a language takes lots of patience, and I recommend not to overwhelm yourself. Spend 30 minutes learning it daily rather than 2 hours once a week. Remember: language learning is a skill, and to develop a skill you need to do it, understand it, and repeat it daily for progress to appear. So do not get discouraged if you don’t see progress after weeks. It took me two years of Spanish classes to really understand what the teacher was saying. Also, more often than not one of our abilities like listening is better than speaking, so don’t be hard on yourself. Be disciplined and continue working daily.

That’s it. There’s no magic secret to learning a language, just daily practice. You can also use social media to your advantage! Post and share memes in your learning language, watch Netflix shows in that language, or listen to music that will inspire you to continue.

When you learn another language, you can apply to more jobs, travel more easily, and improve your memory. Now that everything is digitalized, there’s still a trend towards human connection, and it will always be there. The more people you can reach with your communication, the better it will be for you and those around you. Now, go pick a language, and good luck! 

 

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