Learning a New Language: How to Get Started

Whatever language you wish to learn, it is important that you gain a basic vocabulary, and also an intelligible accent.

Here are some tips:

Find a native speaker with whom you can converse.

This will provide invaluable practice, and help you to hear the language properly. You can offer conversation in your own language as a quid pro quo. Spend 30 minutes talking in language 1, then the next 30 minutes talking in language 2.

You may be lucky enough to already have a friend you can do this with, but if not, you can place an advertisement, approach people you meet, fall into conversation at a bus stop. It’s as easy as that, and much better than struggling with cds or computer programs.

Watch films in the language you wish to acquire.

Choose subjects that interest you, turn subtitles on or off, and put your feet up while you watch a movie or two. Watch the same movie two or three times. This will help you to pick up the accent, increase your vocabulary, and learn some slang (street talk)

Read newspapers in the language you wish to acquire

Either print versions or on line. Read the articles, the adverts, the births marriages and death notices….

Watch TV in the language you wish to acquire

This will help enormously. Especially good programs to watch are, the news, quiz shows, children’s TV.

Read a children’s book

Books for small children will help to learn the names of items. Sentence structure will be simplified, and repetition will be used. All this will be of use to you.

When you learn a new word or phrase, try and use it within 24 hours

This will help to fix it in your mind.

Before you go to sleep, review what you have learned

and repeat it silently to yourself a few times.

These tips will not replace conventional learning, ie classes and courses, but they have helped me to learn good idiomatic French, and they can help you too. Whichever language you wish to learn.

Good luck.