Nine helpful tips for learning a second language

Learn how to speed up and make second-language acquisition easier

Learning a second language is really good. Whether you want to increase your job opportunities, communicate with people from foreign countries or have access to new content online, acquiring a second language is highly recommended.

However, it is not always easy as it involves having contact with an unfamiliar language. You may think that learning a second language is a lengthy process, but you can speed things up.

We have listed some useful tips to help you read, write, listen and speak another language in the shortest possible time and become an authentic multilingual person.

Helpful tips for second language acquisition

These suggestions can help you get faster results and make second language a natural part of your life.

1 – It’s never too late to start

We normally hear kids can learn other languages more easily because of brain plasticity during childhood. This is actually true, but that doesn’t mean older people can’t learn them too.

According to a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), adults learn new languages and become almost fluent in them as effectively as children do.

This means learning a second language can be accomplished by people of all ages, i.e. it’s never too late.

2 – Be psychologically willing to learn

When choosing some Russian words you need to practice, for example, or words in any other language that you are not so familiar with, it’s ok to get confused and make pronunciation mistakes. Nevertheless, you have to be prepared for that.

Mistakes are part of the process of learning a second language – and learning any other thing, actually. For this reason, don’t let your mistakes put you down or make you feel insecure. Use them as fuel.

People who can easily learn a second language are curious and face the opportunity as a challenge, not a test. When you take it easy, evolution eventually comes.

3 – Study hard

Studying three hours a day for two weeks is much more effective than studying one hour a day for two months. In other words, intensity brings good results when learning a second language.

Just think about what you learned in English, Spanish or other language subject at school. Most of the times, contents didn’t stick to your mind because classes were short and too long apart.

Therefore, it’s better to take a short period of time and study hard than studying a little every week for months. With the first method, you will be able to acquire the language more quickly.

4 – Have a context in mind

Saying “call an ambulance now” in Italian during an exercise in the app and saying it when you have actually witnessed an accident in Milan is completely different and the real context can be much more challenging.

In other words, when you need to learn a second language, the process happens faster. You wouldn’t have any consequences if you were not able to do the exercise in the app, but in real life, consequences could be serious.

When you put learning into a real context with a major impact on your life, your brain is put to the test and you can have a better performance, whether to understand a sentence in a book in order to move on to the next chapter or in a TV series.

5 – Learn the first 100 words and basic grammar with audios and online classes

If you are completely unfamiliar with the language, these should be your first steps. This will help you form the basis for more advanced learning.

By acquiring the basics, you will get familiar with the language and be able to communicate using short sentences in only a few days. This is a great start.

Words like “thank you”, “please”, “sorry”, “eating”, “hungry”, “drinking”, “thirsty”, “walk”, “love”, “one”, “two”, “money”, “where” and “when” are simple words, but can be a great start when learning a second language. And, believe me, knowing them is already a big deal.

6 – Subsequently, try having a conversation using what you already know

Despite your small vocabulary, you can communicate using basic sentences. What you learn in the future will build on to what you already know.

We recommend talking to someone who knows the language better. In addition to broadening your knowledge, you can practice what you have already learned.

Once you manage to start a conversation, regardless of whether you make any mistakes, you can move on in the second-language acquisition process. Instead of trying to learn many words at once, focus on a smaller number, but that you are sure on how to use them.

7 – Repeatedly watch movies in the language you want to learn

One of the best and easiest ways to learn a second language is watching movies in that language more than once. Three times is usually a good number.

Watch the movie in its original language. Watch it with subtitles in your native language the first time. Switch the subtitles to the original language in the second time and remove the subtitles in the third time.

You will already be familiar with the story and this is really effective. Thus, you can match the words with the actions and events you are watching. This helps you gain learning more smoothly.

8 – Be aware of different learning levels

Just like the do’s and don’ts when learning English can help you in this process, understanding your second-language learning levels is also very helpful. They are the following:

1: You will be able to speak a little, but won’t understand almost anything;
2: Then, you will understand more than you can speak;
3: After that, you will be able to start a conversation, despite some mental effort;
4: Subsequently, you will talk to people without that much effort i.e., you won’t need to mentally translate words from your native language to the language you are learning and vice-versa;
5: Finally, when you are able to speak and listen without using mental translation, you will be able to think in the language you acquired – which is a great sign.

9 – Be persistent

Some languages are more difficult than others because of phonetics or the alphabet, especially when they differ a lot from what you are used to in your native language.

Additionally, some people can learn a second language in only a few months, while others require more time to be able to communicate effectively.

No matter what group you are in, you have to be persistent. After all, you will have a great reward in your personal, professional and academic life.

Start practicing today

The earlier you start studying a second language, the faster you will get to the level you want. This will help you communicate when you are abroad or help you get new content in a language other than your own.

Goals can be different for each one, but if you devote the right amount of effort and motivation you will definitely learn a second language. In addition to acquiring a second language, you will know what having a sense of accomplishment feels like.

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