Learning a second language
Learning a Second Language – How to Learn Quickly
Learning a second language is never easy for the simple reason that it is exactly that — a second language.
Ninety-nine percent of the time and, of course, barring the existence of congenital speech defects, the difficulty of learning a new language is brought on by the learner’s adherence to the conventions and practices of his first language, his native tongue.
Conflicts in pronunciation, vocabulary, usage, intonation, manner of expression, even understanding of concepts, therefore arise. A perfect way to test this fact is to have a simple statement in English read by a Frenchman, an Italian, a Russian, a Japanese, a Portuguese and a German. See how many versions of the same statement in English you get!
The best thing to do in learning a new language, therefore, is to start fresh. Try, even temporarily, to suppress whatever conventions you are used to with your native tongue, and learn from scratch. While this is easier said than done, it is crucial to the process of learning a new language. You may also apply the following proven techniques:
1. Understand the language’s basic sentence structure. Regardless of what language it is, its basic unit of thought will always be the noun-verb combination we know in English as the sentence.
Learn some nouns and verbs to convey your thoughts and you’re on your way, but do not concentrate on learning the rules alone. Remember, to know a language means to be able to speak it.
2. Read, read, read! Reading will help you get acquainted with common terms and expressions used in a specific language. Read simple materials like newspapers and magazine articles that you easily understand which can help you slowly build your vocabulary.
Your goal is to be conversant in this language one day so learn new words as you go along. Bear in mind though that, to be effective, your vocabulary must be made up of words you can understand and use and not just words that you recognize and understand but cannot use.
3. Write, write, write! As you acquire more confidence, start writing down your thoughts on paper. Write about things you have read or any experience you may have encountered.
The best way to practice your writing skills is to maintain a personal journal of things going on within and around you. This will also hone your skills in narrating and describing events.
4. Learn the art of listening. The best way to acquire skills in correct pronunciation and intonation of a language is to listen to how a native speaker speaks it. It is necessary for anyone who wants to be an expert in any language to develop his listening comprehension.
5. Learn to use the dictionary. Whether you are writing, reading or merely listening, it will serve you well to study the dictionary. This will not only help you widen your vocabulary, it will increase your confidence in choosing the correct words for particular situations.