If you are up to date with the steps that we have been taking towards speeding up your learning of a new language, you have already immersed yourself in the language you are learning. (Go back to Part 1, Part 2 or Part 3 if you haven’t caught up!) That is, you have been listening to radio broadcasts and watching videos primarily in the language you’re learning, and have hopefully already had a conversation with a mother-tongue speaker of the language.
If this is the case, you’re doing incredibly well. But, this is not the time to stop. Instead, you should be ready to take your understanding of your new language to the next level. In order to do this, there are a final two steps that you need to follow.
How to Truly Master a Foreign Language
7. Set a New Benchmark
If you are learning a new language so that you can live and work in a foreign country, your understanding of that language will have to be at an advanced level. If, however, you are just learning a new language so that you can ask directions or order food during your next holiday, your understanding of the language can be more fundamental.
But, why just leave it there? Instead of being satisfied with basic conversation, tell yourself that you want to continue your learning so that you can become fluent in, and eventually master, your new language – you just need to fuel your motivation.
This is best done by setting the benchmark further. Instead of having simple conversations with mother-tongue speakers online, download newspapers, buy novels, and listen to news reports in the language you are learning. This will expose you to a more advanced sphere of your chosen language, and help develop your understanding of it.
8. Perfect Your Accent
Total proficiency in the vocabulary and structure of a foreign language can still see its speakers failing to speak it perfectly. There is often a single culprit for this imperfection; accent. Speaking a foreign language without a proper accent can often lead to errors in pronunciation and other small deficiencies. So, in order to truly master a foreign language, it is important to pay a great deal of attention to accent and intonation.
Accent has an obvious bonus; it is how the language is intended to sound. Speaking with the correct accent lends itself to proper pronunciation, which is the key to truly mastering a language. That being said, it is also important to pay attention to intonation, which refers to the various stresses and pitch variations that are inherent to the language you are learning.
Some languages possess a sense of musicality, while others are inherently more monotonous. It is important to understand the intonation pertinent to your chosen language in order to master it. This is often helped a great deal through cultural awareness. By understanding the way in which different cultures approach communication, you will achieve a far greater understanding of the way your new language is intended to be spoken.
So, there you have it – 8 steps to total language mastery. It is important to remember that these are intended as hints to supplement your language learning, not facilitate it. It is highly beneficial to seek out an experienced and knowledgeable teacher before you begin your journey.
It is also important to remember that you shouldn’t place unnecessary time-frames on your learning. Different individuals learn at different rates. But, regardless of how quickly you learn, if you follow these steps and commit yourself to the process, it is entirely possible for you to master a new language.