What if we told you that the most effective way to master a new language is to use your language talking with real people? Or, even better, to speak the language with a language teacher who is trained in how to speak with language learners, and further guide your understanding? Speaking is a critical step in gaining confidence and true applicability for your newly acquired language skills!
But what does the process of language acquisition look like?
Almost everybody has spent at least a little time trying to learn a new language. Many of the people who have tried to learn a language did so in high school or university. Some of them didn’t manage to find much love for foreign languages. But it always turns out that at a certain point most of us actually need the language in our lives.
The way we gain knowledge of a language in school is part of the problem. We call it the “book knowledge” of language. It is usually so complex that it often overwhelms the learner, and doesn’t give them the tools to actually use the language in everyday life.
A lot of people would probably agree that the experience of learning a language has been a frustrating or boring process, and that is why most of them don’t even finish what they’ve started.
But once you communicate in the new language, you really do have new perspectives in your life. Suddenly you are able to travel, order a coffee or dinner by yourself, or make new friends while on business trip. And here’s something fun and interesting; speaking a new language makes you more attractive to others! (as weird as it sounds).
If people knew that learning a language could be a very pleasant experience, more of them would start learning right away! Learning, not speaking! The learning process might take awhile but our goal is to make you start speaking pretty fast.
We believe there are at least three stages of the language learning process.
Stage 1 – BASICS
This stage is all about memorization and repetition. It might be boring, but it gives us the base/the knowledge we need to move on from the first stage. Once we are comfortable with all of the parts such as
- “Wh-” questions – What is your…? Why do you …? When do you…?
- Tenses and their usage… at least those tenses we need for speaking.
- Pronouns and conjugations,
- Modal verbs: I can… May I…? I should….
- Vocabulary sets for at least 10 topics: 1. Introductions, 2. Occupation, 3. House, 4. Friends and Family, 5. Everyday life, 6. Party, 7. Body Parts, 8. Foods, 9. Getting sick, 10. Hobbies,
the most challenging part is just to find time for regular practice. The more you practice, the better.
Tip: Use social media. For practicing every day, you can use Instagram following @intercambiodiomasonline, @easiergerman etc., but also YouTube, Deutsche Welle, or other newspapers. Most beloved children’s cartoons are available on YouTube in multiple languages. A very good example: Peppa Pig (Peppa Wutz in German).
Remember: Love the language. Once you love it, you are ready for stage 2.
Stage 2 – CONTEXT
Role-Plays are an excellent method to learn the language in a specific context – learning whole phrases instead of just single words. Role-Plays can be used already in Stage 1 while practicing very simple phrases in contexts such as “in a coffee shop”.
Stage two requires a little bit of self discipline. Here is what we think is good to start with:
- Watching sitcoms or Netflix in the target language. Certainly, there are sitcoms or a series that you have already watched in your mother language. You can simply rewatch it in a different language so you already know the context. “Friends” is probably the best idea. Because who doesn’t love Friends?
- Reading simple books or blogs, even Instagram posts…
- Listen to podcasts, every morning or evening (whatever is best for you).
- Work with a dictionary. However, try to get comfortable with words you still don’t understand while reading a book. Look up the meaning only if you encounter the expressions many times and still haven’t got the meaning from the context. Checking every single word will discourage you from continuing.
- Repeat words and phrases you hear or see and you like how they sound or you like what they mean. Keep repeating them.
Remember: Even if you are still not able to speak fluently, the idea of stage 2 is to get to the point where you can understand most of that what’s spoken or written and where you can have a simple conversation in multiple contexts.
Stage 3: EXPRESSION
Stage three is more about coming out of one’s comfort zone. Here is what comes to our mind when it comes to stage 3:
- Read books, newspapers – every day.
- Talk to strangers or schedule lessons or meetings where you will be speaking the language.
- Take courses, language courses, or other courses in areas: sports, photography, algebra, painting… Everything in the language you learn.
- Write words of the day, notebooks, memories, stories, letters, blogs, Instagram stories.
- Collect things and talk about them with friends or a language teacher.
- Listen to music and news in a target language.
- Be curious, always try to figure out how to say certain things in your new language. Make the foreign language your second language, and use it more often than just at school or a language course!
Remember: The most important thing is just to communicate and not to worry about the grammar or correctness. The more we use the language the fewer mistakes we make and the more confident we become.
Confront the language every day.