Hellooo wanderers 🙂
Growing up in a bilingual city has certainly had it’s ups and downs. When I was a kid, I absolutely hated learning French – primarily because it was so forced upon us and it made it very stressful seeing as how a major part of our grades was based on how quickly we could pick it up.
But, as the years have passed I’ve become a lot more thankful for my French and in fact have basically become obsessed with learning new ways to communicate!
I love language and I love people, as well as exploring different cultures. So today I thought I’d make a post about my jounrey in learning new and exciting languages and alsoo, give some tips for how you can make your language learning experience go smoother!
*Disclaimer – I’m so far from a professional and am still learning! There are a ton of different ways to learn languages but these are just the tips that personally helped me!
I’m half English (on my dads side) and half Italian (on my moms). As a kid, I was totally captivated by my moms fast speech when she spoke to Italian relatives over the phone and I found myself wanting to learn SO bad. It really is a romantic language *sigh*. But, my mom wasn’t into teaching me because she swore her grammar was terrible and that she’d teach me all the wrong things – so when I got the chance to take an Italian class in College as my complementary I took it in a heart beat!
The class was a mix of Italian kids like me (who had parents who never got around to teaching their kids) and non-italian kids who were studying linguistics. I felt like a pro the first few classes because while I knew zip about verbs, I knew the basics like ‘hello, how are you? Goodmorning, goodnight’ etc and I could count to 10.
Buuut I quickly learnt the difficulities of learning a language once we surprassed the easy stuff and got into grammar and verbs. Even though this was a language I wanted to learn, it still took lots of practice and studying. Learning a language is a whole lot easier when you’re passionate/motivated to learn it, but that doesn’t mean it no longer takes any discipline and focus.
The language that I’ve been studying hard for the past year is Korean. My passion for the Korean culture started in high school when I fell in love with Kpop and then Kdramas later on.
I found myself often going ‘it’d be nice if I could watch or listen to this stuff without subs!’ But I always dismissed that I’d ever be capable of pickibg up the language. Until one day, I finally picked up a text book from Chapters and a new notebook and told myself to just give it a shot!
I’m better at understanding than I am speaking but I quickly picked up Hangul (Korean alphabet) and can hold a basic conversation plus a bunch of mis-matched words were added to my vocabulary xD One day hopefully, I can put it all together hehe! I better if I want to visit Seoul eventually :3
So, learning languages, while not a new thing to me is something I always have to work at. It’s like working a muscle.
Here are my tips for you!
1. Write and read, repeat!
I know not all people learn by writing something down but I definitely do and it really helped me learn the Korean alphabet.
2. Dive into the pop culture! (Watch tv shows, listen to music, etc)
This is literally the next best thing to speaking to others in the language, I think! Immerse yourself into the culture by listening to music, watching tv shows or – if you’re able to – read books! It totally depends on what you’re into but I personally love binge watching shows and Dramafever.com easily became one of my favorite sites I watch Korean shows!
Recently, I got REALLY into a netflix original called Terrace House and it’s basically about a bunch of young people movie into a Hawaii beach house. I had no idea when I clicked ‘watch’ that it was a famous Japanese reality show but I related with the cast so much that I started really getting into it! Now I’m super interested in tackling Japanese in the near future! 🙂
You can also turn something you already know and love into a lesson! If you’re into games, switch your consoles language. Buy novels in that language if you’re a book worm. Change the language of your favorite movie? The possibilities are endless!
3. Converse with native speakers of the language
If you’re lucky enough to have friends or parents who speak the language, practicing speaking is a sure fire way to learn quickly!
4. Quiz yourself
Make cue cards and keep a notebook handy…also a ton of highlighters! My Korean notebook is the most colorful notebook I’ve ever colored xP There are also a ton of resources online if you can’t quiz yourself or don’t have a willing friend/family member! There are a bunch of handy apps and webs that will quiz you if you look for them 🙂
5. Use sticky notes and dictionaries!
While knowing a language takes way more than simply becoming a walking dictionary, carrying one around is a good idea! You’re more likely to remember words or phrases that are important to you. For example, When I grabbed a mini Korean dictionary, the first things I looked up were ‘Writer’, ‘Boyfriend’ and how to say ‘I have a headache!’ Because I get really bad migraines.
Also…I may shamelessly know how to order coffee in like, 4 different languages xD PRIORITIES!!
6. Study consistently!
Buy textbooks/workbooks at your local book store, download pdfs & audio files (many are free by the way!) and watch Youtube videos if you don’t have access to an actual class. While it was more stressful for me to learn Italian in a matter of weeks with marks at stake, taking a class is a great way to learn. Plus, having a good teacher means an infinite well of answers to your questions. Community classes might actually be a better idea than taking a school class since marks aren’t an issue! Pencil in a part if your day, a few times a week – in short, make the effort and the time!
7. Immerse yourself in the culture
Obviously, this isn’t an option for a lot of people, but the best and quickest way to master a language is to immerse yourself in it. I learnt French because it was more or less vital to my grades and my future if I chose to stay in Montreal. If you take a holiday or move to the country that speaks your language, you’re way more likely to practice without even trying to and eventually become a pro. Like I said though, moving is drastic! A smaller step would be to go to authentic restaurants that serve cuisine relative to the language and try to converse with the staff 🙂 For example, go to a China town, Little Italy, that sort of thing!
And there you have it – all my tips for learning a new language 🙂 I know the topic is kiinda random but I hoped this post helped anyone who is trying to learn a new language or is passionate about linguistics like me!
What languages can you speak? Any you wish you knew? Let me know in the comments down below!