Cultural Competence: 7 Tips for Learning a New Language


Do you want to learn a new language? Or have you stopped and started, and then stopped again only to realize that most of your progress had disappeared? Learning a new language can be difficult, especially if your mother tongue is totally different from the language you are trying to learn. And let’s be honest, just the thought of learning a new language can be daunting, and you may have no idea where to begin. Well, the beginning is the most challenging part but once you have the right tools; those tools being dedication, motivation, and knowledge, then you can eventually begin speaking any language you set out to.

Take a look at these top tips and tricks to help you learn your new language.

Top Tip 1: What Language do you want to Learn?

Choose your language wisely. However, it may be the case that you don’t have a choice in this matter, and if that’s the case just skip ahead to the next tip.

When you are selecting which language to learn, you should consider the following things:

– Ask yourself why you want to learn the language. This is one of the most important things for learning a new language. Why? Well, quite simply, knowing why you want to learn this particular language will go a long way toward motivating you to keep going. This will come in hand for the days you feel like learning a new language is impossible. This is what is known as your personal motivation, and will help you to kick start a sustained learning process.

– Are there people close by that speak the language? If there are, then you should find out how you can spend some time with them. This will help you to practice the language, and as we all know, practice makes perfect. If there are no people in your physical vicinity, then you could look up online forums or even consider video tutoring.

– What are your resources? Some languages have more resources than others, and while this shouldn’t be the only motivation for selecting a language, it should definitely play a role. Once you have all your possible resources lined up and accessible, you will save time and be more motivated to learn the language.

Top Tip 2: Start off with the Right Mindset

Before you begin, you should be aware of the fact that you can do it. Start off with a winning mindset, and you will be more motivated to learn. It doesn’t matter how old you are, what your previous learning experiences are, your gender or your mother language. None of these factors determines whether or not you can learn, because no matter what, with the right effort, you can do it.

Top Tip 3: Dig for the Roots

It will benefit you if you understand some of the language’s history, and how it came to be the way it is understood today. Languages such as Italian, French, Spanish and Romanian have words that are derived from Latin, and as such can sound very similar. In fact, learning Spanish will be much easier for an Italian than for a British person, precisely because the roots of Italian and Spanish are very similar. However, you will also note that Spanish and English have related words, mainly because English draws on Latin roots as well- but not to the same extent as the other four languages mentioned above.

Learning a bit about your language, and where it comes from can help you to understand certain words and draw associations in your mind, which can go a long way in assisting your memorization of certain words.

Top Tip 4: Start with the Basics

In this case, the basics are not referring to the basic everyday sayings like “how are you” and “thank you.” In this case, the basics you should learn is the inner workings of the language- how does the language work? Ask yourself, what makes this language unique? To understand the answer, you should refer once again to the roots and origins of the language. Don’t be afraid to get into the ‘nitty-gritty of the language; what are the basic points of pronunciation? What are the linguistic aspects? Take a look at the alphabet; what do you notice?

Another important aspect will be the grammar, make sure that you have the grammar rules at hand, and you start studying them as soon as possible. Grammar goes a long way in helping you hold a conversation, and the sooner you learn it, the better. In some languages, like Italian, you could have already acquired a decent vocabulary, but if you don’t know or understand how the grammar works then you will struggle to hold a decent conversation. You memorize these verbs when trying to learn Spanish and you should understand the gender of many articles in languages like German and Italian.

It may seem daunting and difficult, but keep at it, and eventually, all the puzzle pieces will come together, and you will understand the full picture.

Top Tip 5: Keep your Motivation High

After the initial excitement has died down, you may find yourself lacking the motivation to continue. So, how to stay motivated? Keep reminding yourself why you want to learn a new language. Focus on your ‘why’ and put a little bit of effort every day to remind yourself how good achievement can feel.

Top Tip 6: Create a Learning Schedule

You need to set out realistic goals for you to achieve. Obviously, the big goal at the end is to be fluent in your chosen language. However, you should set up smaller goals along the way. In this manner, you will be able to create a map for your success. Setting a schedule can also help you to manage your time. If you are busy with work and family life, you may be finding it difficult to learn. However, you will find that if you schedule in a time that suits- for example, one or two hours per week- you will not be as stressed about trying to fit in some time for your learning.

Top Tip 7: Incorporate it into your Daily Life

When learning a new language, daily reminders and association will help you. Try to expose yourself to the language as often as possible. You can listen to a podcast on your commute to work, or listen to a radio or television station. In your home, you can put labels on your household items, in this way, you will be able to see the words every day and incorporate ‘study time’ without spending your time studying.

Remember, you are not the only one in the world trying to learn a new language! Look online for forums with people trying to learn so that you can share resources. Keep yourself motivated, and stick to your schedule and soon you will have a new language at your disposal.

Leave a Reply Cancel reply