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This is How I Learned A Third Language: A Guide For Collegiettes

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

Growing up speaking English and Arabic — two very distinct languages — was a very normal thing for me. The thought of learning a third language, however, wasn’t something that I always intended to pursue.

It wasn’t until I began taking the required foreign language courses at school that I realized that learning a new language doesn’t have to be a necessarily hard task. After six years of learning Spanish, I realized what aspects and resources to focus on in order to become proficient in just about any language.

1. Practice, practice, practice

This might be very obvious, but every language requires serious practice and sometime investment. Fortunately, many college campuses across the country have outstanding language-learning resources for college students. Language student clubs are great for allowing you to collaborate with native and non-native speakers and develop your speaking skills.

If you’re trying to learn Spanish, organizations like Mesa are great to join and help with your conversational skills as well as meet others who share an interest in the same language. Many language apps like Duolingo are also good resources for beginners who are trying to learn the basics.

2. Don’t be shy about asking questions

The best way to learn a language is to hear how others speak it. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and make friends with native speakers in the language you want to learn. Learning a language doesn’t simply mean that you must know every grammar rule. Languages like Spanish and Arabic have different dialects, which aren’t usually covered in typical composition and grammar lessons. So with every language you learn, try to immerse yourself in the culture and focus on a specific country that speaks that language.

Fortunately for me, Spanish is the official language of 20 countries, each with a rich and diverse history, so I had a multitude of dialects to choose from. Cultural festivals are also perfect for diving into the cultural side of the language and having a pen pal from a country that speaks the language can be a fun way to advance your understanding of the language.

3. Let your reason for learning the language be your motivation

This is the most important thing that I learned. If you’re not enjoying the language and feel like it’s a burden, then you must reevaluate why you chose to study it in the first place. When I decided to start learning Spanish, I was attracted to the culture that it encompasses it, the beauty of the language and the large Spanish speaking population around me.

Find what attracts you to that specific language and use it as a driving force to start or continue with the language. Entertaining resources like television shows, movies and books will definitely help you with pronunciation and will give you a list of new vocabulary. If you’re trying to learn Spanish, telenovelas are your best friend for dramatic phrases and words relating to many topics.

Learning a new language might seem intimidating in the beginning, but the end goal is worth it. Focus on your goal and with time, a foreign tongue will be able to connect you to a new culture and a new group of people who might change your perspective of the world.