The verdict is in: It’s never too late to learn a new language. Whether you want to pick up the basics for an upcoming trip, refresh your knowledge of a language you studied in school, or become fluent to speak with relatives or locals in another country, there are many ways to learn a new language. What’s more, many of these options are at low or no cost.
Here are a few ways to go about learning a new language. Mix and match or try them all!
- Sign up for a course. Language courses are offered through local community colleges, universities, extension classes and community centers. Explore what’s available in your community.
- Visit your local library. Your library may have language tapes or cds, textbooks or other language offerings that you can check out and use.
- Create flash cards. Write basic key words on flashcards. You can also tape these vocabulary words around the house – for example, on the refrigerator, TV, door, table, etc. – marking that object’s name in the new language to help you build the association.
- Listen to language tapes or cds. Audio language lessons purchased or checked out from the library can be listened to as you work around the house, take a walk, etc.
- Log on to your computer. Computer programs you purchase or free websites that offer lessons (see “Second-language Learning” link below) can also provide an interactive way to learn a new language.
- Watch and listen. If available, turn to TV channels in your new language or find a foreign language radio station (some are available online as well). Listening to native speakers speak the language can help you pick up the correct accent as well.
There’s no better way to master a language than to go ahead and speak it. Don’t be shy or worry that you’re pronouncing things wrong – it’s all part of the process.
Some language courses are taught using an immersion method, where English or your first language is not allowed to be spoken in class, and students must learn by doing. This method has proven very effective. Other ways to practice speaking your new language include:
- Hiring a tutor. A private tutor can help you practice speaking and perfecting a new language.
- Asking friends you know who speak the language or even your classmates to practice having conversations with you. Get together and vow to only speak the new language the entire time. Don’t know a word you need to use during these conversations? Just say the phrase “how do you say” in the language and see if anyone else knows. If you’re all learners, keep a translation dictionary nearby.
- Book an immersion trip to another country. Just like college students travel abroad to learn a new language, you can too. You’ll get an amazing vacation in the process!
Learning a new language is fun and challenging. Find the methods that work best for your learning, take your time and enjoy. For more tips and information, visit the links below.