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Learning a language: six practical tips

languagesOn the 26 September, people from all over the continent will take part in the European Day of Languages, a celebration of linguistic diversity and learning. With many businesses, schools and community groups organising activities, there can be no better time to consider studying a foreign language. With that in mind, Duane Sider, the director of learning at Rosetta Stone, has provided Smart Move with six practical tips. Allons-y!

Learn for real

A clear, compelling vision of what you want to do with a language will keep you motivated to see results. Whether you envision talking to your future son-in-law in his own language or strengthening your resume for a management position, use that incentive every time you switch on your language software, open your text book or go to your class.

Choose your method

Choosing the right method for you can make a huge difference in your motivation and success. With advances in technology and new approaches, you can be selective and choose a method that suits your lifestyle and objectives. Make sure it's convenient, comprehensive, communicative and cost-effective. You want a program you can access almost anywhere , one which develops the key skills you need to hold real conversations, responds to your voice and your progress, and gives you proven results to reward your investment.

Share your plan

Unless you mean to surprise everyone with your newly-acquired language skills, create a learning plan and share it with your friends and family. Even get them involved. Too often, the value of learning on your own is undermined by the common problems of procrastination and distraction: something always comes up.

Take an inventory of your week, marking lost time that you can swap for learning time. Plot two and a half hours of language learning on your calendar each week and at a minimum you'll put in well over a hundred hours a year, more than enough to achieve basic conversational skills-if you choose the right approach.

Get immersed

Being completely submerged in the language you are learning is called "immersion" and it's especially effective in learning to speak because you're actually thinking in your new language every day.

If it's unlikely you'll spend six weeks learning a new language in-country, you can find immersion options closer to home. Familiar movies dubbed or subtitled in the new language help you connect new vocabulary and language structures to meaning you already understand. Ethnic neighborhoods, restaurants and music also provide constant exposure to the spoken language and chances for brief conversations.

Talk to yourself

It may be obvious, but the best way to get better at a language is to speak it! If there is no one else around to talk to, talk to yourself. Name things as you see them. Learn basic phrases, repeat them and use them. Read out loud. Get accustomed to the sound and feel of the language in your mouth.

And don't fear mistakes. You'll learn as much from your mistakes as you will from your successes. And the reality is that you can't become conversational, let alone fluent, without talking.

Celebrate your successes

Every word, phrase, question or conversation you attempt deserves celebration, because most of the successes in language learning emerge from trying out the language in everyday situations. It's exhilarating!

So celebrate. Gather your friends, share stories and you may well have them joining you on your language-learning adventure.

 

More information about the European Day of Languages can be found by clicking here.

You can learn more about Rosetta Stone language-learning software by clicking here.