Apr 13, 2009

Ways To Learn A Foreign Language

In February, we outlined a few of the benefits that come along with learning a second language, including social advantages and improved cognitive function. This week, we will explore a few ways to develop this special skill and get you going on the path towards bilingual ability.

The best possible place to learn a new language is not in a classroom, but rather in a locale where that language is spoken exclusively. Learners will find themselves challenged more frequently and significantly when confronted with daily tasks and scenarios that call upon their ability to effectively communicate to get what they want. Simple situations like ordering food in a restaurant, directing a taxi cab home, or shopping for clothes will call upon the speaker to incorporate a variety of different words and tenses to try to convey what they are after. The brain is much more apt to learn what is necessary if required to do so to simply get through the day.

Although it is not optimal, taking a language class is the next best thing to re-location. Local community colleges will usually offer many different levels for interested students, and the human-to-human interaction is critical. You also have the added benefit of continual practice, with homework and regular class schedules figuring into your routine.

If time conflicts and a busy agenda are the issue, there are still several other avenues to explore. There are many programs available for the computer that allow the user to learn a language at their own pace. The most popular of these is Rosetta Stone, which incorporates text, pictures, and audio to help progress along the way.

Like most learned skills, the key to all these methods is practice. Supplement your plan with activities that help keep your lingual ability sharp, such as a pen pal or e-mail buddy (which helps with slang and common usage you might not get from a language curriculum). The more you practice, the more fluent you’ll become. You’ll find that you reach a point where changing between languages is as simple as flipping a switch, a skill that’s not just useful, but quite impressive as well!

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