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  • Martina Lucic

How to learn a new language

Updated: Nov 12, 2020

This question doesn't seem to have one straight answer, but let me start by saying I believe everyone is capable of learning a language. Below you will find some tips that will hopefully be useful to you.

set goals

First of all, you need to determine what your goals are. Take a piece of paper and a pen, you're going to have to answer the following questions:

  1. Why do I want to learn this language?

  2. Which level do I want to reach?

  3. How much time per week do I have to spend on learning the language?

  4. What's my budget for following a course?

  5. Which courses are available in my town / online?

Great! So now you have an idea of what you want and what the possibilities are, well done.

spread the word

I know you might want to keep a low profile when you start learning a new language, but the natives around you are the ones that will be a major help. Just be honest with them and say "Listen, I want to learn to speak the language like a native, that means I need your help, too. I know you want to make it easier for me by speaking English (or another language you have in common), but in fact it's not helping me, it's actually slowing down my process. So will you please speak [insert new language] to me?"

No matter where you are, try to at least have one conversation in the language you're learning. At the bakery, library, a party, anywhere! I can guarantee that each time it will be easier to take that step.

Watch movies and series

Start with children's movies and series, preferably ones you already know, like fairy tales. Disney Plus has nice options. If you're learning Dutch for example, you can watch the movies narrated in Dutch and for extra help, with subtitles as well. Definitely give that a try!

culture is important

Learning about the country's culture will make you understand why natives do or say things that might seem odd to you at first, but will help you in the end. When you understand them, you can implement them. Hence, you'll be one step further.

You can ask friends about specific habits around Sinterklaas, Christmas, New Year's etc. Look on YouTube for expat vloggers. Google the specific holiday or habit you're curious about and you'll find many articles about it. Also, keep following my blog, because around each holiday, I will post a blog about it!

Repetition is key

No matter how you practice, make sure you keep on practicing. Repetition will make you remember, and it's best to practice it in different ways. Here are some tips for you:

  1. Write down the word, say it out loud, ask a native friend to say it to you (so you practice listening) and then eventually use it in a sentence so you can make a connection, which will help for later when you need the word again. Then you will trigger 4 different methods. If you want an extra one, try drawing a symbol or a picture and connect that to the word, but this last one is not easy for all words.

  2. Work with flashcards, for example on the website Quizlet you can make your own flashcards and practice with words / phrases / tenses in different fun ways. I highly recommend this website.

  3. Buy a little notebook that you can bring with you everywhere you go. So when you hear a new word you'd like to remember, write it down so you won't forget.

  4. Be kind to yourself, you're not going to learn everything in a short amount of time.

Alright guys, thank you for reading. I hope you liked it. Keep in Dutch!

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