Learning foreign languages in your twenties can spruce up your resume, make you an attractive option to potential employers and...
There are many free language learning tools available these days, making it easier than ever for those with the desire to practice their chosen language. Along with taking advantage of this exciting technology, there are a few other important tips you can follow to help you learn your chosen language faster than you ever imagined.
Free language learning tips: preparing to learn
1. Recognize cognates
If you haven’t heard the term “cognate” before, congratulations! You’re about to learn an unfamiliar word. A cognate is a term that has the same linguistic derivation as another. For example, a word like “communication” is spelled the same in both French and English. The pronunciation is different, of course. However, a little familiarity can go a long way when learning.
There are a variety of cognates in the English language because it originates from so many other languages. Cognates might be spelled differently but still be recognizable. An example of this type of cognate would be the Italian word “capitano”. It’s spelled differently, but you can still recognize the English word “captain”.
If you want to prep your brain to learn a language, consider beginning by familiarizing yourself with the English cognates for that language. If you search for the name of your desired language with the word “cognates”, you should find some examples. After you spend some time looking them over, you’ll have familiarized yourself with a few new words, and this will help you later.
2. Accept that you will make mistakes
It’s easy to feel the motivation to learn a language in the beginning, but when the process becomes more challenging, you might begin to doubt your abilities. Therefore, having the right mindset is very important.
When learning a new language, two things are key to remember:
- Learning a language can be challenging, and even the sharpest students make mistakes.
- People of all cultures have learned multiple languages throughout history, which means that the human brain is capable of learning.
If you doubt your abilities or beat yourself up every time you make a mistake, you won’t enjoy learning your new language. This process should be fun and exciting! If you go into it with a positive mindset and choose to have a great time along the way, learning will be much easier for you.
3. Be willing to communicate
Did you fail to learn anything in your high-school Spanish class? If so, it was likely because you memorized aspects of the language without ever utilizing it in conversation. Humans are capable of memorizing things, but this is very different than true learning. If you really want to learn a language, you need to be comfortable using it, and this means actively engaging in conversation.
Many non-native speakers are too shy or embarrassed to strike up a conversation. This is why we mentioned making peace with mistakes in the previous section. You’re going to sound silly when you make mistakes, but that’s okay! Most people are happy to see someone attempting to learn a language. Communication is far more important than perfection, and without it, you’ll never learn the nuances of using that language.
If you can’t find anyone to converse with in real life, a free language learning app like Mondly can provide you with a virtual native speaker to practice with.
4. Set goals for learning
You have a busy lifestyle, and it’s easy for language learning to fall by the wayside if you don’t set firm goals and commit to sticking to them. Saying you want to learn German or Portuguese is too vague. How much do you want to learn this month? What specific goals do you have?
Make a list of what you would like to accomplish within a given time frame. Anywhere between a week to a few months should work well. Setting goals years in the future doesn’t benefit most people. You want goals that will help maintain your excitement and motivation.
This goes for the type of goal you set as well. Rather than focusing on mastery of the language, you can also focus on things like practice time. For example, you could set the goal to accomplish five hours of conversational practice with a native speaker over the next month. It’s fine to set goals for learning as well, but keep in mind that everyone learns at a different pace. Therefore, making a goal of being fluent in three months might be setting yourself up for failure.
Your best friend: this unique free language learning app
Are you taking steps to learn a language? If you’re ready to start this exciting journey, now is the time to download Mondly and begin practicing with an app that just works. Mondly is one of the top language-learning platforms in the world due to its advanced learning system, which includes visual cues and a voice chatbot to help you practice. Get started today, and you’ll be speaking a new language (even Russian, Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Turkish and 30 other languages) sooner than you think.