Now is the perfect time to book an Easter or Summer holiday, especially if you’re a student looking to get some travelling experience done and dusted before joining the daily 9-5 slog.
Whether it’s a trip to a far, distant land or a Euro trip – learning a few key phrases, or if you’re really up for it, getting fluent, is not as difficult as it may seem.
Here are a few useful tips that will really come in handy when ordering at a restaurant, asking for directions or, god forbid, if you get stranded in a nowhere kind of place!
1. Bitesized Chunks
Learning between 10-20 essential words a day will benefit you to no end. Focus on the absolute key words like: be, have, hotel, restaurant, train station. They will most definitely come in handy. It also helps to carry a pocket-size dictionary around with you at all times as you never know when you might need it!
2. Repeat, repeat, repeat!
Go over the same sentence 5-10 times until it becomes annoying to say. Chances are it will stick inside your head, and it won’t feel so annoying when you correctly converse with a native speaker. Just remember; pronunciation is key!
3. Keep It Fun
When I had to learn German, I found just solely reading from books and dictionaries, as helpful as they are, mind numbing after a while. Find some foreign films and take in the tones and pace of the language. It may seem completely alien at first, but you’ll be surprised how much you subconsciously take in.
4. Keep It Simple
Away from textbooks and CDs, you may even find some use out of watching your favourite TV show in your chosen language. One of the most key methods is watching a children’s programme in a different language. After all, that’s how kids do it!
5. Be Realistic
So here’s where most people make their first mistake. They have, say, a New Year’s revolution to learn either French/Japanese/Chinese/Spanish and have no clear aim as to what they actually intend to learn. Are you looking to become fluent, say some key phrases, write essays? And exactly when do you hope to achieve your desired level?
It may seem simple but just having a goal is something you need to keep in mind when learning a new language. Because after a while, you’ll just lose interest because you’re not working towards anything.
My advice would be to set weekly goals. ‘By the end of this week I want to know how to order a meal in Spanish, or talk about the weather in French’. Being goal orientated is a massive advantage here.
So there are some useful tips on how to get your head round the process of learning a new language. Immersing yourself is probably the best way to do it, but being exposed to German or Japanese speakers may be something unavailable to you. The best way is to actually live in these places, or live with people who can speak it.
But don’t worry about that. As long as you see learning a new language as a non-academic experience then you will succeed. You just need to want to achieve it.
Don’t lose faith, keep at it and it’ll be rolling off your tongue in no time.