Welcome back to our look at the various steps for increasing your ability to learn a new language. Previously we discussed two of the first steps towards learning the necessary vocabulary of your new language – enough to have a basic understanding of it and be able to communicate effectively. In Part 2 we will expand on that theme, as well as touch on one of the fundamental mental inhibitors when it comes to internalising vocabulary.
So, in order to keep your learning process flowing freely, we’ll jump straight into the next two steps of your language learning, in which we’ll help you put your anxiety to bed once and for all and focus in on internalising your new vocabulary.
How to Prepare Your Mind for Learning a New Language
3. Do Away With Your Biggest Excuse
The fact that you are here and reading about how to learn a new language means that you’ve already decided that you want to do it. That’s great – you’ve bounded over the first hurdle. This, however, puts you in the path of your next hurdle; being overcome by the size of your intended language.
Unfortunately, many people fall victim of this hurdle in one form or another, and usually write it off as too high to jump, justifying this decision with an excuse. Some say that that they weren’t gifted the ‘language gene’ at birth, while others say they’re too old to learn.
Well, we’ve already dismissed the language gene as mythical, and we’re not at all convinced by the ‘old-dog-new-tricks’ excuse either. Yes, children do learn how to speak at an early age just by listening to other people speaking. But, given that you were once a child, what makes you think you can’t still do that?
Research has shown that, while children are good at learning languages, adults might be more attuned to language learning. This is because adults have great reasoning ability, pattern recognition skills, and a wealth of experience on which to draw.
4. Develop a Functional Learning Method
At the risk of sounding like every school teacher you ever had, learning ‘parrot fashion’ doesn’t work. Drilling a single word into your brain over and over doesn’t work as well as developing a true understanding of that word, and still leaves you open to forgetting it if you go long enough without coming into contact with it.
This is why it is far better to develop a method for remembering words based on their meaning, or even a loose association with their meaning. This is where mnemonic devices come in very useful. A good example of this would be the Spanish word ‘cállate’, which means ‘shut up’. Since it sounds like the word ‘karate’, you could form an association with the word and an imagined scenario of conflict, so when you see or hear ‘cállate’, you think, “Shut up, I know karate.”
If you’re having trouble coming up with sentences or scenarios to help you remember words, you can definitely turn to technology for help. There are plenty of apps for your mobile device, like Memrise for example, that can help with this.
So, by now you should have a clear approach with regards to the basic words you need to learn and the way you’ll go about memorising them, a solid base of words you already know thanks to your home language, and absolutely no excuses to keep you from learning your new language. Click here for Part 3 and find out how to begin using the language parts that you already know.