It’s not all about the test
From personal experience, there can be many ways to learn a language. Firstly, when learning a language, don’t feel like it’s something you have to do or study for an exam and then never use the language for the rest of your life. Learning a language should be fun and believe me, it’s the most rewarding feeling ever when you speak in another language to a native and they understand you. They never taught German in my school and because learning language was something that was more of a pastime for me, I still did the exam. I was the only one in the exam hall in the final exams doing it. I got books from the library and joined online communities, never trust Google Translate, don’t go by it. I did this for about a year before the exams. I took the honors paper and passed. It wasn’t as hard as I expected because I liked learning it.
Ease yourself into it
For people that want to learn a language that has no similarities to their native language, it can be really hard. For me, I’ve already had two languages, English and Irish but the first foreign language I’ve learned was French. I started French at about 14, I’m 19 now and pretty fluent. I actually hated the language for the first year, then I joined online communities and made good friends with a French girl. After her helping me with my French at the start, half way through the second year of French it was all I ever wanted to study. Hence, why I’m studying it in university right now. Back to topic. If a native English speaker wanted to learn Chinese or Japanese it would be really difficult to choose these as a second language without any prior experience. For English speakers, there are a lot of options to learn. Because English has many languages of similarity as it shares aspects from Germanic, Romantic and even Celtic. Some good options for a second language would be Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch or Italian. The Scandinavian languages would be the easiest in my opinion, due to the grammar, accent and similarity. Personally, learning Swedish was shockingly simple. Of course, if you really want to or even have to learn an unrelated language, go for it, I’m just going by my personal experience. I don’t know how I would have managed to learn French without learning French.
Use the media to your advantage
Today, almost everything is published in a lot of other languages. Why not get your daily news in the language your learning. Get national news apps, Le Monde is great for learning French and is available on the app or play store. Set your phone in the language you’re learning. Your phone probably has it and it gives you the chance to use the language as you normally would in your daily life throughout the day. Go to a local library, I don’t know about other places but mine has a section where there are books in every language imaginable, there’s also a section where there’s language learning material which can be very useful, especially when starting to learn a language. If you’re in Europe, you can set Euronews to most European languages.
Don’t just stop there
Okay, so you’ve learned a language, maybe not to fluency but to a level where it’s no task to have a full conversation to a native. Seriously, don’t stop there. If you learned Japanese, learn Korean as it has similar grammar. Or if you’ve learned German, go for Dutch. Use these links to your advantage. Language learning halts the brain from aging so there are even benefits on a medical and neurological level. Having more than one language can make it so much easier to find a job, even if the job entails nothing to do with the languages but it could be something as simple as interacting with customers, employers may like that you can converse with people in other language, it’s a great customer service technique especially in large cities and areas of tourism. Personally I’ve went from English/Irish to French, to Swedish , to German to Japanese. Thinking and speaking in another language actually gives you a whole new vision of the world around you. Your personality may even change which can give you new qualities. In French, potatoes are “apples of the ground” and fish are “fruits of the sea” or in Swedish there is word “lagom” which means something is just right or in the middle. “Oh this water is lagom” meaning it’s not too hot nor cold. It makes you think differently about yourself and the world around you. Wouldn’t you like to think what type of person you’d be speaking a different language? You could get a whole new persona or express a part of you that you never thought you were or had.
I’m glad I’ve chosen my language path. I hope this information can be useful to people wanting to learn a second langue, if anyone has any questions or specific tips please leave a comment, I’m happy to answer them! Happy learning-