There are various approaches you can choose between when learning a new language.
However, we are aware that, especially if you are self-studying, it can be tricky to find the most effective technique for you.
Last month we talked about “The best way to study a new language” on our YouTube Channel. We thought it would be a good idea to bring you a guide on why you can benefit from learning a new language focusing primarily on your speaking skills.
Before we dig into today's article it is important to note that we advise you to learn about the basics of the language first: the writing system(s) and phonetics.
Only then you may follow these tips to better guide you on your language learning journey since without that baseline you might encounter problems later on during your studies.
1. Textbooks aren’t the complete guide for languages. What we mean by this is that more often than not writing systems don’t perfectly correspond to what the language sounds like when we speak. This doesn’t only have to do with individual words but also how we string words and sentences together. Pay close attention to how native speakers tweak 'official grammar rules' since that's the way the language will most likely be spoken colloquially, that way you don't just learn the academic way of speaking the language.
These are instances that you won’t find in a textbook and why you shouldn’t take speaking for granted.
2. Languages aren’t only made of standardised rules. A language is so much more than just words and grammar. There are several layers that go into it - for example, body language, intonation, context and facial expressions. If you’re not aware of all the cultural and social connotations and decide to skip past them by only focusing on the grammatical rules, your communication in that language will be lacking, and you'll be lacking a connection with the culture behind that language, its people and their identity.
3. Learning a language is learning a new way to think. When we focus on the literal translations of words and expressions textbooks often give, we will think that there are equivalents for everything you have in your native language. That is not the case at all. Unless both languages have similar routes, there are several research trials that show evidence of the brain being structured differently based on the language we grow up with. It is crucial to understand what tools are used in your target language and how the thought process is developed.
4. Comfort with the basics allows better retention. If you properly understand the skeleton of your target language and feel comfortable navigating through it, every new piece of information will become easier to grasp and remember in the long-term. For example, it happens the same in your native language: you no longer feel uncomfortable acquiring new vocabulary or grammatical rules, it becomes second nature.
At some point, you'll notice yourself just learning from context after acquiring the basics, the need to consult textbooks and grammar points no longer being present in the back of your mind.
5. Natural input can help you in the long run. To acquire a language you need natural input. The word “acquisition” is very important here. Let’s take the example of how a child acquires their native tongue. They always learn to express what they need and want by speaking and only then learn how to write. Speaking adds to writing. If you can express yourself through speech you’re more than halfway through achieving the same in writing.
So what now?
Let rip and feel free to treat the comments section as a community journal by connecting with fellow language learners down below.
Let us know which tip was your favourite along with any other thoughts you might have on this topic!