Are you learning a new language? Do you feel it’s difficult?
Have a look at my way of learning my 1st foreign language as a polyglot.
As a French teacher and language learner, I have gotten my own experience about language learning. Since I started learning my first foreign language – English- when I was 9 y.o., the way I have been learning languages has changed tremendiously but some things stayed the same.
a. Why the way we learn in school isn’t effective?
I started learning English at school and in France, language learning is not good according to me. Teachers are focusing mostly on reading, writing and grammar. There is very little focus on speaking and pronunciation. So, for a lot of students, they think that learning a language is hard and boring, and based on memorizing.
From the 9 years spent at school from primary school to high school graduation, it’s not the lessons in class, which helped me to develop my English.
b. Why travelling to a foreign country is one way to learn effectively?
I got the chance from very young to travel abroad: with my parents, we would go to the UK or to Ireland for holidays.
What helped me was to be in immersion in the culture.
I was always curious and eager on reading in another language. Each time, we would go there, my parents would buy me a kid magazine in English and when I got around 10, they even bought me some books in English.
c. How to learn from real magazines and books?
From that moment on, I read a lot in English and even though I didn’t understand everything, it helped me improving my language skills. One very important thing when reading a book in a foreign language: don’t focus on the words that you don’t know, focus on the whole context. If you don’t understand the whole sentence, then look for the words in the dictionnary to understand it; but if you can understand the sentence with some missing words, just keep reading.
Why do I say so? Because, developping your language skills must be fun and natural, just as a child is learning to speak. So, don’t worry and enjoy the ride!
d. Why the best is to communicate with native speakers?
When I got 15, my parents offered me each year the opportunity to go to study English on one-to-one for a week in Ireland or in the UK in a host family. I grabbed this chance and I learned a lot from it. I couldn’t understand much of what people were saying at first but I was in the environment and I had classes every day. I was also going to activities with my host. Those activities being in English, it helped me to develop my languages skills. Bit by bit, my English got better and I would even dream in English sometimes.
That’s why, I think that speaking with natives is the best way to test what you already know and improve quickly. Don’t be afraid of your level and of your mistakes. We learn from them!
Believe it or not, on that 1st trip alone in an Irish family, I confused the sentence “Are you cold?” with “What’s your name?”, because I thought they had told me “(What) are you called?”. Now, I am laughing thinking of this mistake and I don’t feel ashamed of it.
If you can’t afford to go on a trip this year, there are other ways to communicate with natives. For instance, you can talk with natives taking one-to-one classes online on the platform italki.
Are you ready to learn a new language now? Do you have questions regarding learning a language?
Don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments!
After teaching to more than 200 students and as a Polyglot, I would be happy to help you learning.
I’m Natacha, a French vegan Airbnb host who has been working online for the past 4 years. I help hosts stand out and make more money online so they can have a good work-life balance!