Now that the craziness of this month is over and my home is in order and I’ve been getting adequate sleep, I returned to French this evening and have spent the last 4 or 5 hours not just learning more French and refreshing my previous learning, but also watching videos on the best way to learn any new language. I also made my first video in French and you can watch it here.
Some tips were obvious (like listening to the radio or reading in the new language), some were affirming to know because I was already doing what was suggested (like watching children’s cartoons or films or listening to music in the new language - in addition to the things listed above), and some just gave me the boost I needed after my brief hiatus from French.
And so, I wanted to share what popped out to me tonight in case it inspires anyone who might also be learning a new language... in no particular order and I’m sorry I don’t have references because I scribbled notes from the videos for hours and hadn’t planned to post about it:
1. Learning a language is actually easy and can be really fun (even though it takes time) but we believe it’s hard and tedious or boring and that’s our first block.
2. Children learn languages faster but adults learn more effectively because they already know HOW to learn.
3. Technically you weren’t born with a language. You learned your mother tongue and you can learn other tongues as well.
4. There is no cut off date for learning a language (or anything else in life) so don’t think that just because you’re an adult it’s too late for you to become fluent in another (or many other) language(s).
5. Committing just 30 minutes a day to learn a new language is awesome and way more beneficial than learning a few hour’s worth every once in a while or once a week or month (obviously). As of today I’m recommitting to daily French learning and those 30 concentrated minutes will be in addition to school when I return. Perfect for my metro ride.
6. Immersion is NOT required to learn and retain a language. Just look at all the people in your own country or city that have lived there for many, many years and still don’t know the native language. In my experience and opinion, immersion is great for making friends and getting exposed to the sounds of the new language, but I’ve learned more on my own through YouTube tutorials and conversations with frenchies than I ever have in class. I still LOVE the experience at school but two of my 6 levels I basically had to learn on my own for two separate reasons (level 4 the teacher was horrible at teaching and level 6 I was barely there), so I supplemented my learning with videos and it was much quicker than what I could learn in class. I basically take the subject given in class and obsessively watch videos on it until it clicks for me.
7. Although learning the basics of a language can happen quickly, becoming fluent does take time and the process, results and length of time is different for everyone, so comparing yourself to others (like I’ve done with my counterparts who have many years of French under their belt), is just not a good idea. When I compare my speaking with those who are much more fluent and then judge myself for not being as good as they are, I get self-conscious when I speak and I over-think and freeze, when under more pleasant inner circumstances I speak French more fluidly. So, when I remember I’m learning a new language and the goal is to repeatedly fuck up until I eventually get it right, I don’t feel embarrassed to be at a different level than they are. Plus, we each have different strengths and weaknesses in language. Nothing wrong with that.
8. Tonight I learned from some guy on a video that I’m not the only one that has conversations with myself in the new language. I sometimes narrate things as I go through my day or describe something in front of me and apparently that’s a great thing.
9. A relaxed and happy human learns more quickly and effectively than a stressed out one so if the new language is causing you stress then find a way to chill out and pump up the good vibes and then return to it.
10. You don’t know every word in the dictionary of your native language and you don’t need to know every word of another language to be fluent and fabulous. Similarly, you don’t need to know every single word being spoken to you in a new language to get the gist of what’s being said, so don’t worry about and obsess over the words you don’t know. Just focus on the ones you do as you build your vocabulary organically.
11. Whatever you can do in your language you can learn how to do in another language, so focus first on the things that are most relevant to YOU and your own life and your dreams and your goals, and you’ll become even more inspired to learn and master whatever language you’re wanting to learn.
So there you have it. Some tips from me and from randoms on the internet and I hope it inspires even one person on my list to stretch even further in their own learning. And again, if you want to watch me try to speak French, click here to see what tonight inspired.
Lotsa love (beaucoup d’amour),
(Image from Pinterest)
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