Being multi-linguistic has its own advantages in the modern world, where people from different cultures and regions need to interact with each other on a regular basis. Learning a language can be both fun-filled and challenging, especially if you have never heard the language before. Moreover, some languages can be learnt more easily while others take a considerable time for mastering. This generally depends on the level of similarity in the sounds and even spellings of the words from your native language and the one you intend to learn. Also the amount of time you dedicate towards learning the language might play an important role in minimizing the time it takes for you to master it.
The process of learning a language can be broadly divided into four stages. Each stage takes you a step further in the direction of becoming an expert communicator in the language of your choice. Each of these four steps has been described in detail below.
First Stage: Understand The Sounds, Pronunciation And Spellings
This is the simplest and the most flexible stage in the entire process of learning a language. In this stage you master the art of hearing, producing and spelling the sounds of the language you want to learn. In order to complete this stage successfully, you need to stay focused on producing the right spellings and sounds. Once you become familiar with these key aspects, the new language will start sounding more familiar and it will become easier for you to learn and understand its words and phrases. You can actually break down this stage into three sub-stages which are listed below.
Develop the skill of hearing new sounds:Most people adapt a totally wrong approach to learning a new language by starting to learn its script and grammar first. However, learning to hear the sounds of the language is the first and most important step. This helps you to connect different sounds with different words, which in turn ensures better retention.
Develop the skill of pronouncing new sounds:
The next step is to learn how to pronounce the sounds you have heard in a correct manner. Here it is important to understand that although having the right accent might be difficult in the initial stages, you can surely improve the accent as you keep practicing. Also don’t stress yourself too much if you are not able to pronounce the sounds correctly in the first attempt itself. Just be persistent and you will soon master the technique.
Develop the skill of spelling the sounds correctly:
This is perhaps the easiest part of this stage as you can find the spelling of the sounds in book that teaches the specific language. The tricky part is to combine the spellings and the pronunciation to produce the right sound. This is more difficult in case of languages where the sounds might be pronounced in an entirely different manner to how they are actually spelled. Here you can seek the help of audio clips and grammar books to ensure that you do not get confused by the difference in spelling and pronunciation.
Second Stage: Use a Picture Book to Learn Some Common Words
Once you have learnt the art of hearing, pronouncing and spelling the sounds of the language you want to learn, it is time to move on to the next stage. In this stage you should focus on identifying and learning the words that are most commonly used in every day communication. However, rather than trying to learn such words by grasping their meaning, using pictures that describe the words best is a better idea. The concept is based on the fact that we tend to remember pictures more than words and sounds. This process is similar to teaching alphabet to a small child using a picture book. The only difference is that in this case, you might have to create your own picture book.
Listed below are a few important things that you need to remember, during this stage.
- Rather than relying only on the pictures provided in a language book, search for images related to the words online. This will help you get a broader perspective of the words, which is not possible with a single image.
- Do not restrict yourself to a few dozen words but ensure that you set a target of learning more than 500 words over a period of a month or so. You can however start with only 5-6 words per day and then gradually increase eth number as your feel more confident.
- Keep a catalog of the words you have learned as well as the words you intent to learn. This will provide you a clearer idea of how well you are progressing towards attaining your goal.
- Finally, try to use the words in your everyday conversation, even when you are mostly speaking your native language. As you practice using the words, not only will your understanding of them improve but you will also be able to pronounce them in clear and crisp manner.
Third Stage: Learn the Grammar
Once you become proficient in the first two stages in the process of learning a new language, move to the third stage. In this stage you can open the grammar books of the language that you have already established a strong foundation for. The grammar books help you to use the sounds and the words that you have already mastered in a manner that makes sense in the language of your interest. Here it is important to understand that every language has a unique grammar and structure. As such a sentence or phrase that might seem perfect in your native language might become totally absurd or even insulting in the language you are learning. Learning the grammar of the language helps you to overcome such simple and other complex obstacles that might prevent you from conversing flawlessly in the language.
Before you start learning the grammar of the language, remember the following points.
· Make sure that you start with the most basic concepts of grammar, even if you well aware with most of them by this stage. This not only helps in clarifying any doubts but also provides you greater control over the language.
· Do not compare the grammar rules of the new language with the rules of your native language. This will only create confusion and distract you from the goal of learning. Also, remember the fact that every language is unique and hence there is bound to be some difference in their grammar and structuring.
· Use online search to find countless example of using words and phrases in the right manner. This not only helps in improving your understanding of the grammatical concepts but also provides you with examples of actual implementation of grammatical rules.
Fourth Stage: Play the Language Game
Having learnt the words, pronunciation and grammar of the new language, all you need to do now is put your combined knowledge into practice. Start by making simple conversational sentences and move on to short speeches or giving a set of instructions. Remember, the more you practice the more perfect you will become. You can do the following activities to improve your flow of the language as well as the accent.
· Continue the habit of learning new words and phrases in the picture book pattern. Keep on expanding your vocabulary and soon enough you will have learned all the words and phrases of the new language.
· Make habit of reading a book from the genre of your liking. Start small with kids stories, comic strips, or even kindergarten essays. However, do not restrict yourself to these only and move on to more complex reading for improving your language skills.
· Listen to newscasts and even songs in your new language. Also try to watch the movies in this language, even if they are only dubbed versions of popular movies.
· Finally, converse in the language whenever and as much as you can. The best way to do so is visit a locality inhabits by the native users of the language and try to converse with them. This will help you improve your tones, slang and even the pronunciation of some specific words and phrases.
The above four stages can make the process of learning any foreign language a lot easier and enthralling. However, the only way to truly master the language is through constant practice and willingness to gain anew skill. Moreover, it is also important for the learners to not jump from one stage to another without gaining excellent proficiency in the first one. This will not only make the learning process complex but will also create serious hindrances for the learners, who might again have to start from, stage one.
Like any other skill, learning a new language requires complete sincerity, dedication and patience on behalf of the learner. In case even a single of these aspects is missing, the learners cannot gain complete control over the language they intend to learn, They might however, be able to make small conversation in the language, which might not prove completely satisfactory for even their own self.