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How to Learn a Language

How to Learn a Language

Learning a new language can seem a daunting task – involving a fair amount of time, dedication and brain gymnastics. However, there are a number of key pieces of advice that can make your language learning journey both easier, faster and more enjoyable.

1. Love Your New Language

Whichever language you choose to learn you will be at a great advantage if you also have a genuine interest in the people, culture, food, art, music, places of the language you are learning. If you have a sincere desire to discover more about the places where the language is spoken you will find your language learning journey is more enjoyable.

2. Know Your Motivation

Be clear with yourself about why you are learning the language. It could be for career progression, moving abroad, travel, love, or just to keep your brain active. Whatever you reason you need to have remind yourself of how learning a language is going to make your life better.

3. Speak from the Start

It’s important that you try and speak from the beginning. Try to copy and imitate native speaker examples of the language – you will need to use your speaking apparatus (lungs, glottis, larynx, tongue, lips, jaw) in ways that you have not done before. The sooner you start practising formulating the different sounds the more natural it will feel and the faster you will progress.

4. Leave Your Pride at Home

Learning a language for some people can produce varying degrees of anxiety and embarrassment. More often than not these feelings are attached to a sense pride and not wanting to make mistakes in front of others. Making mistakes is an essential and integral part of learning a language. If you are not making mistakes you are not progressing. Forget yourself and focus on the message you are trying to communicate – no one else cares if you make a mistake when speaking another language.

5. Forget Direct Translations

Often when learning a new language people try to apply direct translations from their own language to the new language. You must let go of this and focus on learning expressions and chunks of language and understand the message or meaning they carry. Trying to dissect each and every sentence piece by piece in an attempt to find the equivalent in your own language will not always give you the results or understanding you are seeking. The word order and grammar of languages vary – often there is no direct translation.

5. Learn New Language in Context

Whenever you are learning a new vocabulary item, grammar structure or expression, ensure you are learning it ‘in context’. This means you have context for when the language is being used – what situation is the language used in real life, what language usually comes before or after the new language in conversation or in written format. Language needs to be learnt in context for it to be memorable and useful.

6. Learn What You Need

When learning a language it is important to focus on learning the vocabulary and structures that you are actually going to use. For example, if you are learning Spanish to facilitate travelling around South America you need to know how to give directions to a cab driver, shop in a market, buy bus tickets, and make small talk with the locals. Or, if you are learning Arabic to translate academic documents you need to focus on reading and writing in Modern Standard Arabic. Your specific needs will determine the type of learning you do.


Contact Us about Learning a Language

For more information on any of our courses, or just general advice on learning a language online, please call us on 01273 830 960 or contact us. Our multilingual team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Cactus language offers the following types of language courses:

Evening language courses: 19 different languages in 15 UK locations
Online language courses: over 20 languages
Language holidays: worldwide immersion courses in the country of the language
Private tuition: tailor-made and corporate language training solutions throughout the world
TEFL: teacher training courses for both English and other languages all over the world

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