“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Mandela
I speak close to 8 languages – English, French, Marathi, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi, broken Spanish and Italian. Though I am a polyglot, I wouldn’t proclaim myself to be super fluent, I can honestly say that I can strike a better conversation with each language. My love for languages knows no bounds and is by far limitless. I can say, that it’s in my genes. My dad used to speak 6 languages and loved French so much that he knew the very basics of it. Personally, French is considered more so my third language, next to English and Hindi. I started learning it when I was like 10 and I still continue to do so. Ever since I hit my teens, this striking and undying love for languages grasped my veins and I started exploring different languages only out of sheer passion with no career aspirations in my mind.
Now, being a millennial and in the 20s, I guess I can speak now out of my own experience on how I developed this art and would love to share some hacks to do the same (as in numerously requested by my fellow readers)
So here you go!
1. First, get the answer to your WHY?
This question isn’t just related only to languages, but for anything that you do in life. If there is something, that you wanna pursue, go deep down and seek the reason as to WHY you would like to do it. Maybe it’s for a career notion, personal interest or even to seek a partner elsewhere (this is possible too!). If you’re unable to figure out your Why power, then the work that you do henceforth would be of no use and would pretty much leave you exhausted and impoverished.
Before you read on the rest of the post, stop what you’re doing and figure out your Whys right NOW!!!!
2. You need passion
Learning a new language takes a lot of hard work. That’s why, in order to succeed, you need to be passionate about speaking a new language.
Be it foreign or national. First of all,
(i) You need to have the drive to learn it
(ii)You need to possess that hunger and will to push forth rather than the cringe.
In a nutshell, you need to have love and patience to do something before you begin. Let me tell you my example from school. Back when I was like 4 years old, Hindi was something that I was forced to learn. I had to study it till I reached my 6th grade. I paid little to no attention in class, because I was still a toddler when I started and more so the classes weren’t as interesting as it is now. Literally, it was like studying the pages of the book and reciprocating it in exams. ,now I don’t remember what I learned back then. Of course, I did get good grades, but I wasn’t taught to study it with a proper understanding.
And then when I reached my 6th grade, I opted for French, because at that time, learning a foreign language was really a big deal. I was so damn excited to learn from DAY 1.As days passed by I became obsessed with it and started learning a lot more on my own. And I took up international exams, to get myself certified. I didn’t put in a lot of hard work, but when I topped my certification exam, is when I realized that there is a lot of difference between understanding and learning and just studying. This achievement, made me to challenge myself to learn to converse. And here I am today, being a language expert in this field and also being pretty fluent in it. On the other hand, I started speaking Hindi only when I reached like 21 or 22 (thanks to movies: P)
What was the difference between my attempt to learn French, and my attempt to learn Hindi? The main difference was passion. I was passionate about learning French and could not have cared less about learning Hindi.
So, when you’re starting to learn something, try to do some self-learning right from your first day.
(3) Set a clear schedule
Planning is essential and especially, when you have opted to learn something new, it shouldn’t be taken frivolous. Create a board with a roadmap to your journey in learning. Have set schedules and write down as to how long will you be investing your time and energy in a single day. It could be like 1 hour/day or even 3 hours/day (depending on the work that you do). Get your priorities straight and create this vision board to help you serve as a reminder.
Keep in mind that it’s important not to get stuck at the planning stage. Once you’ve spent some time doing research, and you have a good idea on how to proceed, get started. Do adequate research especially on the platform that you will be planning to spend and also the stationery required. Keep doing whatever works for you and ignore any approach that doesn’t work for you, even if lots of other people swear by it .Remember you are what you are. So, create your own routine to study.
(4) Start with easy words
I take inspiration from Penelope Cruz in this section. The reason is, in an interview on the Late show, she said that before she learnt to speak 4 foreign languages (apart from her native Spanish), she first made it a point to learn the basics as in
(i) Hello! How are you
(ii) I am fine and what about you?
(iii) What is your name?
(iv) My name is XYZ.
This was with reference to her starting of her career in Hollywood and when she had auditioned for her first English Feature film with Stephen Frears and she bagged the role just by learning the above (which does sound like a bit funny and also a whole lot of luck played here). She went on to say that, she made it a point to study the language in and out while on the set and started conversing even if it was completely wrong.
(5) You will make mistakes!
And that’s what I am stressing here, you are gonna make mistakes…Period! Whatever it is that you’re trying to do, there isn’t a single human in the planet who has created something without failing at it. Prepare yourself for mockery let go of the fear of making mistakes and sounding stupid. Everybody starts from right where you are, and that is “AN ABSOLUTE BEGINNER”. You need to relax and stop being paranoid. Allow yourself to be someone who’s learning, making mistakes, and moving forward, all one step at a time. No rushing.
(6) Give importance to your pronunciation
The secret ingredient to master any language is to sound like a proper and a local man in the language that you’re willing to speak. For every sound, in any language, there’s a specific part of the mouth or throat that we use in order to achieve that sound. In order to make them sound like a foreign or a national language you have to move your mouth, tongue, and facial muscles in the same way as native speakers do when speaking the language.
YouTube is your one stop destination if you would like to learn adept pronunciations.
(7) Take charge of online courses and social networks
At the age of technology, we are in, it is indeed a blessing that we endure everything from the comfort of our homes. Tons of resources are being offered on Skill share, Coursera, YouTube and Udemy. Do let me know if you would want to know my personalized list of suggestions.
You know, just the learning part is not suffice to make your language learning journey fruitful. The greatest return on investment in language learning is forcing yourself to speak and communicate with others. Without the implementation part, the learning part would be of absolutely no use.
PRO TIP – Opt for social networking groups (Facebook and LinkedIn) and try to find a practice partner with whom you can converse and even learn from each other
(8) Opt for 1x1 tutoring
In my suggestion, if you’d asked me if group coaching or 1x1 tutoring works, I would choose the latter. It is because 1x1 class is curated especially for you and is formulated according to your needs. I found lots of tutors online who were ready to coach me few hours every day (Trick is to dive deep to find the best tutor that will fit your needs).
Book a discovery call with as many tutors as you can and choose the one that resonates with you the most.
(9) Read, listen, watch…..REPEAT
Netflix, Rakuten, Amazon Prime are all saviors in today’s world.Out of all these 3 OTTs,there are like lots of movies and series especially in European languages to bank upon.
Try some of these ideas for yourself.
· Download TV series and movies in your target language.
· Read books in your target language (even if you you’re going to read children’s books)
· Stream music online and enable the lyrics mode, so that you can sing along the target language
· E-newspapers (especially the daily) is something that is of a much reliable source today.
· Look around your house and identify the things in your target language.
(10) Keep practicing in your head
Challenge yourself to think in the new language. We all have phrases running in our head, and typically they run in our native tongue. You can continue to practice and construct sentences in your head in a new language. In fact, this sort of visualization leads to much easier conversations when you actually have them. Even if you’re saying affirmations to yourself, practice it in your target language. Your brain might not process it at first, since it’s new, but as time progresses, your subconscious mind will register it as a native language too.
So, there is it guys!! I have summed up all my experiences that have made me evolve to the person that I am today.
Lastly, I would like to say that this is not a magic potion to make you learn anything in a few weeks. There is no quick fix solution. The truth is, learning a new language will take time.
One of the keys to being patient is to stop putting all of your focus on the big goal of becoming fluent in your target language but rather setting smaller doable goals