I had no inspiration for writting and I thought about the purpose of this blog which is to show that there are so much more forms of education than college, and I thought what did I learn today ? Well, I learn something new in my korean lesson that I get totally for free every two weeks ! And then I thought, I should write about that, but expand the subject. I am totally qualified as I speak three languages fluently and on my way to study anothe one, even though I am not expecting to be fluent in Korean.
So even though, I hated my Spanish teachers (back when I was in college), I must admit that their methodology did work and that in one year, I was able to go to Spain and I manage to be understood by every native speakers…well, I would get replied in English at times (which at that moment really hurt my pride), but the thing was that I only started learning Spanish that year and considering that, what I accomplished was amazing period.
SOOO what is this methodology ??
Well, first of all…you have to listen, listen, listen !! Think how you have learned your own language as a baby. Did people put a blackboard in front of you, put word or even entire sentences on it and told you to study them ? Of course not ! That is what they do in school, and from experience, one does not learn properly languages that way. When you were a baby, people around you simply talk to you, you were immerged in the language and by mimetism you started copying them.
It is the universe you want to create again when starting learning language. Of course, I know travelling can be expensive. You might not be able to go to France just so that you are surrounded by native speakers and you learn French in 6 months to one year. Even, if it is by far, the fastest way, most of us cannot afford it. So, what do you do ? Well, you use internet !! And you go listen to music, TV shows, podcast whatever you can in that language. Of course, at the beginning, you will need subtitles to follow a TV show, but this is not important, the main thing is to have this language in you ears. Once, you became familiar with sounds, just like when you were a baby, you repeat, repeat, repeat !!
Repetition will not only help you to pronounce the word correctly, it will also help you memorise it. So repeat the chorus of a song, a passage from this new spanish tv show you have just watch (yes, get into the role of Tokyo in La Casa de Papel, go for it). Did people mock you when you were a baby and you were pronouncing something wrong ? No, they just repeat it to you in the hope that you could correct your prounounciation. It is the same with new language, nobody will make fun of you for trying…even the majority of native speakers are ready to help if you just ask. On that note, it would be good for you to find an environment where you can have a native speaker or several native speakers checking that. There are meet ups, apps and once again, if you can afford it, just flight over there and spent some time in the countries whose language you want to study. However, the first two options are good, especially at a starter level !
So, once we have listened, listened, listened, and repeated, repeated, repeated…we can start to read and write ! Yes, not before that !! I barely wrote anything the first four months I have learned Spanish. Think of it that way…how many years between the moment you were born and the moment you started learning to write at school ? At least 5-6 years !! Well, in language learning, this is the equivalent to 4-6 months. Besides, letting you all this time where you do not do anything, let me be clear on that, you must listen and repeat things in the target language, allows you to know if you like the language or not. Do not worry, yo will give up in less than one month, if you do not like it. First of all, you will need to learn the alphabets t be able to read ! If your language uses the same alphabet, then that is great, one less thing to do. If not, well there is a new alphabet to learn, how exciting ! Think of it as a secret language that you will be able to use later ! You should also check the pronounciation of every letters whether you alphabet looks the same or not.
Now, you can learn the basic, how to introduce yourself, greetings, how to talk about you. Now, you will need to listen, repeat, read and write ! Some grammar point also need to be covered from the beginning. I think about accents for French and Spanish. How do you detect what needs to be covered first ? Well, at that point is not a bad idea to get something like a manual for first time learners or a free course online or an application which will basically start by covering those important grammatical subjects. If you read a little bit in your target language, you can see what you do not understand and google it to have an explanation on the subject.
Once all of that is done, well, just keep learning. To this date, I am still learning English, Spanish and Korean…I am fluent in the first two, but it does not mean that I am not stumbling when I talk, or that sometimes I will read unfamiliar word that I need to google, or that I will forget words. I even sometimes forget momentarily words in French as I am speaking English a lot here. So it is a long learning process. Do not expect fluency before 2-3 years of learning and that is if you learn aggressively. If it is just an hobby, maybe 4-5 years depending on the language. Also when I say “Fluency”, I mean that you are able to understand complex ideas whether they are in a written or audio format, that you can speak on all the subjects, and write pretty decently. It does not mean that you will be at the same level of native speakers, well just because they are native, and it is a thing you will never have. However, you can achieve that level once again, by working really hard but most of all by going there. And if you spend 5 years learning a language, it is worth it to start saving and to go there to put on practice everything that you learned.
In a nutshell
- You listen, listen, listen
- You repeat, repeat, repeat
- You start reading and writting (only after 4-6 months)
- You keep learning
Additional step (not mandatory)
- Go there (at least once), you will not regret it.
Wishing you the best of luck.