Any new language will feel like a feat to learn. However, people who learn languages easily will tell you that there is a method to master a new language with less effort.
Firstly, you must understand that language learning takes time. After that is established, you can then begin with the basics of the language. Although there is a multitude of things to learn, don’t be caught up by the advanced aspects, and focus only on what is necessary at the start. By taking baby steps and consistent effort, you will find yourself picking up the language naturally.
The big question is: where should you start in learning a new language? Here is a suggested guide to help you:
Master common phrases
Rather than learning individual words and trying to piece them together, it will be much more helpful to begin with whole phrases. For example, most language classes start off by teaching students how to perform greetings like ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’, and how to introduce oneself. After that, you can move on to everyday phrases like asking for help, asking for the prices of items in a shop, and so on.
Learn the numbers
And of course, it will be useless to ask for the price of any item if you can’t understand the reply! So, learning numbers is also one of the basics of any language. If you think about it, numbers are widely found in everyday life – in prices, addresses, dates, phone numbers, and more. Thus, it will be very useful to get a firm grasp of numbers from the start.
Learn the phonological system
‘Phonological system’ may sound like a mouthful, but it basically means the system of sounds that make up a language. For example, in English, you need to understand the alphabet and the sounds of the alphabets when you put them in a word. For Chinese, this will not work with Chinese characters, but learning hanyu pinyin will help you learn the pronunciations. If you are learning Japanese, you will need to learn pronunciation alongside katakana. After you have grasped the basic pronunciation system, you will need to practice speaking it so that you can speak the words naturally without stumbling over them.
Learn the writing system
You may have realised that when you learn to pronounce words, it often comes along with learning how to write and read them. Thus, you also need to learn the writing system of the language, be it an alphabetic system, or other symbolic characters (like in Chinese). If you are lucky, the language you choose to learn uses the Roman alphabet, and you won’t need to take this extra step. But if you are learning languages like Japanese or Korean, this is a vital step you cannot miss.
Pick up new vocabulary
Building your vocabulary is important as it gives you more words to be able to express yourself. For example, knowing the word ‘sad’ alone may not be enough for your express your extent or nature of sadness – it would be better if you knew other words like ‘distraught’ or ‘disappointed’. Although learning new vocabulary is difficult, you can make it more manageable by breaking it into attainable goals, like learning 20 new words every week.
A smart way to approach it is to focus on the most commonly used words in the language. You can find these easily online or in a dictionary. Additionally, if you are learning the language for a specific purpose, focus first on the relevant words. For example, if you intend to do business in the language, master the business jargon first.
Don’t fret over grammar
While grammar is an integral part of language, it is one of the things that people find most challenging in learning the new language. That’s because it is not just about saying what you want to say, but about rewiring your brain to reorder what you want to say. At some point, you will need to learn the grammar of the language to be able to speak it well. However, many languages are also quite forgivable of speakers who mess up the grammar. If you are a new learner, you can speak to someone ungrammatically, and chances are, they can decipher what you mean.
Although memorisation is a good way to approach vocabulary-learning, it is not a good method for picking up grammar. The best way to master the structure of any language is to use it often. If possible, practise it with someone else who knows the language. That way, you can learn by listening to them, and they can also correct you as you go. This makes it easier to remember the rules that you need to know.
Do yourself a favour, and strategise an efficient way to learn a new language using these tips! Language classes are also immensely beneficial for language learning, as they employ tried-and-tested methods like these to help learners grasp a new language quickly. If you are interested in picking up a new language in a systematic and effective manner, don’t hesitate to check out the offerings of Skillsfuture Japanese courses, Chinese courses, and Korean courses available.