“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”–Rita Mae Brown Language is a fascinating subject. Not just because of how it lets people communicate with one another, but also because of the way that it opens a window into the soul of a society. For those seeking to learn a second language outside of a classroom setting, however, there probably isn’t time for philosophizing on the deeper meaning of language. These are 6 quick, nitty-gritty methods of picking up a second language even when you’re not going to school for it.
1. Jump off the Deep End with Immersion
This suggestion comes from the sink or swim school of thought. After all, what better way is there to go from conversational to fluent? To that end, music, movies, and television are a great means of developing your passive listening skills. Similarly, pen pals and forums are also good for helping you get comfortable with other facets of communicating in a new language. Who knows? You might even find someone who’s learning English as a second language there.
2. There’s an App for That
A quick browse through the Android or Apple app market shows that there really is an app for everyone, including mobile device users who are looking to learn a new language. For those who would rather develop their linguistic skills through their desktops, there are also computer programs out there that will accomplish the same goal. When all is said and done, this is an approach that makes it possible for you to really practice your language of choice. All you have to do is pick and choose the option that makes you feel the most comfortable.
3. Who Said Workbooks and Textbooks Were Going out of Style?
Just because you’re not learning in a formal classroom setting doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of more structured learning opportunities. If you’re a more visual learner, workbooks and texts are ideal for you. Those who prefer a sense of organization to go with their self-paced learning will especially appreciate this option. In addition, the books can usually also be had at relatively cheap prices through sites like Amazon.com.
4. Who Knew Small Talk Could Be So Beautiful?
At the end of the day there’s nothing better for your linguistic journey than engaging in real life, two-way conversation. After all, practicing mutual dialogue is probably the fastest way for you to get accustomed to speaking actively. Finding groups in your community that speak a foreign language is a fantastic way to accomplish exactly that. You may be able to find potential conversation partners at your local university or perhaps a related club. Regardless of where you find them, you’ll quickly discover that fluent speakers are usually more than willing to help others learn how to speak.
5. Let’s Make a Deal
If you happen to be acquainted with someone who speaks the foreign language you’re attempting to learn, don’t be afraid to barter. You can volunteer to tutor a fluent speaker’s children in a school subject in exchange for lessons, or you can mow grass. Students in particular may be able to strike deals with English second language students for one thing. Of course, you’ll never know until you try.
6. Study Regularly
Part of the reason why many people have problems gaining fluency in a foreign language is because they don’t make a point of studying on a regular basis. Since you’re trying to commit new words to your long-term memory, repetition is an invaluable tool at your disposal. In order to pull this off, your best bet is to carve out a schedule that allows you to review new vocabulary on a daily basis if you can. Picking up a foreign language is very much a process. You can’t expect to go from basic level to conversational overnight. It takes time to acclimate yourself to the new language and to eventually learn how to express yourself. By studying and exploring the options available to you, however, getting comfortable in a foreign language just might be easier than you think.