Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn Spanish. Maybe you need to speak Japanese for your job. Maybe you want to re-connect with your German heritage by learning its mother tongue. There are many reasons why people teach themselves foreign languages, but the specifics don’t matter nearly as much as the drive to learn. If you’re serious about becoming fluent, here are just four ways to get it done.
1. Buy the Right Tools
You can’t learn a new language through willpower alone. You’ll need help in the form of classes, workbooks, websites and language-learning apps. You don’t have to follow their lessons exactly, especially if you’re learning just for fun, but they can give your efforts a certain amount of structure.
2. Make Flashcards
It’s cliche for a reason. Flashcards are one of the easiest ways to learn new vocabulary, especially if you use them consistently. However, they don’t have to be the traditional paper kind that you used in elementary school. You can find all kinds of flashcard games and apps in the digital realm.
3. Soak Up the Culture
Where is the language spoken? What’s the local culture like? Have some fun exploring it. For example, you might start cooking or dressing like the people from its country of origin. Not only will it improve your vocabulary, but it will get you excited about learning it, too.
4. Immerse Yourself in the Language
Language immersion is a popular way to increase fluency. It’s also great for people who are under a time crunch; immersion is a “sink or swim” approach where you’re forced to adapt quickly or fall behind. It can really light a fire under you in terms of increasing your functional language skills. Don’t be afraid to look into things like Chinese language summer programs.
These are just a few tips for learning a new language. It might not be easy, but when you reach the level of being able to read, write and speak in a tongue that’s completely different from your own, you’ll be proud of your efforts!