Welcome back to our look at the steps necessary for speeding up your language learning process. In Parts 1 and 2 we looked at the backbone of learning any new language – the vocabulary. If you’re focusing on the roughly 300 words essential to the communication of your chosen language, have developed mnemonic devices to remember those words, and have supplemented those words with the English loanwords incorporated into the language, you’re nicely on your way to not only understanding your new language but becoming a fluent speaker of it.
But, now that you are familiar with some of the words pertinent to your chosen language, it is time to start listening to it and begin to get a feel for it. Fortunately, technology is on your side when it comes to this stage.
How to Interact With a Language
5. Immerse Yourself in the Language
Many people will tell you that the best way to learn a language is to travel to its native country and immerse yourself in the culture. This, however, is completely unnecessary. While immersing yourself in the culture of a particular country can certainly help you pick up a language, there is absolutely no reason to travel to the country.
Many people who move abroad can spend years in a particular country and not learn more than a handful of words from its native language. That is to say; immersion has nothing to do with your physical situation.
We live in a time of total connectivity. The distance separating countries is no longer a barrier in any way, thanks to the internet. So, if you want to immerse yourself in a particular culture in order to learn its language, you don’t need to spend time and money on travel, you just need to access the internet from any device. That’s right, immersion is possible electronically.
You can use the internet to tune into radio stations from any country, access videos or songs through live streaming, or even buy popular television programmes or films dubbed into your language of choice. These all help with cultural immersion, and are far less expensive than outright travel.
6. Interact With the Language
You might have told yourself that you want to be fluent in your chosen language before you try to speak it with a native speaker, but this is just a means of procrastinating. The only way to learn to swim is by getting in the water. So, by interacting with a mother-tongue speaker, you are able to identify the parts of the language that need your immediate attention, which will greatly speed up your learning process.
An excellent way to do this is through online video chat apps, like Skype. This allows you to keep your notes handy, and not feel overly intimidated by the situation. Plus, if you meet up with a native speaker of your chosen language through a website that is aimed at teaching (like Conversation Exchange or Speaky), the person with whom you are speaking will be absolutely aware that you aren’t a fluent speaker, which will relieve a lot of the pressure.
The braver you are in getting started with interacting with your chosen language, the faster you will learn to speak it. Click here to continue on to Part 4, in which we discuss the final two steps for faster language learning.