I’ve become addicted to learning Spanish. When I moved to Spain in January of 2010, I wasn’t interested in learning the language, but I am now.
As I started doing research on the most effective ways of learning a language, I started thinking back to how I learned English at the age of 8. You’ve probably been taught that learning a language is done in school, and that you have to understand grammar to use a language. While that definitely can help, it isn’t something you need to do if you don’t feel like it, and I’ll tell you why by sharing my personal experiences with language acquisition.
Imagine the freedom you can experience by being able to pick up a language. You could live anywhere in the world and communicate with anyone at any time.
While I believe that you can learn a language in 90 days, I think fluency takes a few years. And remember: language learning should be fun. Otherwise you will not keep going. This is a long-run game.
With all that said, here are a few ways I acquire a new language:
The first thing I did when I got serious about learning Spanish was to start watching cartoons, TV series and movies in Spanish. There are a lot dubbed material in Spanish out there. Yes I know, dubbing is horrible, but you get used to it after a while.
When you start watching something in a new language, you probably won’t understand anything, but as you keep watching, your brain will start picking up simple things, such as “hi”, “apple”, “bye” and so on.
This is why I recommend you start with cartoons or even children’s programs. It’s a fun way to learn the basics of a language.
When you’ve gone from cartoons to more complex TV series like Lost, Star Trek or Friends, you probably will be able to start listening to the radio, podcasts, interviews or even audio books.
Learning a language is fun as long as you care about the content you are consuming. Don’t put yourself down if you don’t understand everything you hear. In the beginning, you won’t understand the majority of what you hear. This is when you just allow yourself to relax and allow your ears to pick up whatever they can.
Drop the need to KNOW what everything means. Become a child and start guessing. Start thinking about the context instead of the individual words.
If you enjoy reading, then by all means do that whenever you want. I enjoy reading cartoons, children’s books and even novels as I progress. I just started reading a Spanish mystery and I love it!
It may seem like you have to follow a certain structure, but in reality you don’t. It’s more important that you keep language learning fun, rather than “correct”.
Teachers may tell you to get familiar with the grammar first, but I say forget it if you don’t like it.
I’ve been watching Star Trek, Simpsons and Friends in Spanish, because I enjoy it. I watch it because of the content, and at the same time my brain acquires Spanish.
Depending on how much time you put into listening, watching and reading, you will automatically start being able to write.
If you want to speed up the process, you will have to write. I do this by thinking of sentences in English and then writing the equivalent in Spanish.
As you do this more and more, you naturally become familiar with the grammar and the structure of the language.
As you get better, I recommend you go to different chat rooms where you can get in touch with natives. There are some specifically designed for language learners, such as Shared Talk
Last, but not least comes talking. There are people who like to start talking as soon as possible, such as Benny, and that’s completely fine.
I personally like to watch, listen and read more before I start talking. I still talk, because I live in Spain.
Remember: keep it fun and do what you want to do. If you want to go out and talk to people, then do so. If you live in the U.S and want to learn Chinese, there is nothing stopping you from doing so. The internet has made everything possible.
The Bottom Line
If you want to learn a language in 90 days or less, you will have to immerse yourself in the language, and by immersion, I mean many, many hours per day.
There are many hacks you can use, such as turning everything from English to Spanish. For example, if you use Gmail, you can switch the language.
Do you play World of Warcraft? How about doing it in your target language instead? The options to learn a language naturally are limitless. It’s just a question of whether you want it or not. There is not right or wrong way to learn a language, so trust yourself and go with the flow.
This article is meant to show you that learning a language is possible. It’s not hard, it just takes consistency, and that is why you pick a language you are passionate about.
|Written on 10/19/2010 by Henri Junttila. Henri writes at Wake Up Cloud, where he helps people turn their passion into a thriving lifestyle business. When you feel ready to take action, get his free special report.|