It’s no secret that children learn new languages quicker than adults. But let’s think about this, usually, if a child is learning a new language it is because their parents speak it to them or they hear it at school all the time. So of course, children can pick it up quicker.

As an adult, don’t give up! Yes, of course, you might not be around it 24/7 but it is possible.

         

Languages around the world

The most extensive catalog of the world’s languages, generally taken to be as authoritative as any, is that of Ethnologue (published by SIL International), whose detailed classified list as of 2009 included 6,909 distinct languages, however, about 2,000 of those languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers.

Did you know? Papua New Guinea is the country with the most spoken languages in the world with a whooping 820, that’s 11.9% of the spoken languages!

Okay so you may not want to learn all 820 languages of Papua New Guinea but here are a few strategies that will help you learn a new language.

      

Know your motivation

This might sound obvious, but if you don’t have a good reason to learn a language, you are less likely to stay motivated over the long-run.

Wanting to impress your English-speaker friends with your Italian may not be the best reason to start.  However, wanting to get to know your Italian brother in law in their own language is another matter entirely. No matter your reason, once you’ve decided on a language, it’s crucial to commit.

   

Truly Immerse yourself in the language

The moment you cut English completely out of your language studies is the moment you begin to think in your target language. Watch, listen, read and write in the language you want to learn.

   

Connect with a Native Speaker

This person can be your sounding board when you are lost: when you have questions, or when you just want to practice.

People sometimes can get stuck in a routine of practicing grammar and memorizing lists of words instead of actually putting what they’ve learned into practice. Speaking with a real person will help you feel motivated about learning the language because you see how powerful conversations can get.

Try to find a friend or colleague who speaks the language you’re trying to learn, someone who is willing to sit down with you and help you practice. Alternatively, there are great apps, such as, HelloTalk that connects you with a native speaker of that language and allows you to practice with them. The best thing about this app? It’s a language exchange, meaning you teach someone else your language and they teach you theirs!

    

Want to learn more? Watch this TED Talk below:

    

    

In the end, there are, no secrets or shortcuts — you just need to commit to your new language, be willing to work hard and not be afraid to make mistakes.

Renata Sandor
Author

Renata Sandor is a Marketing Specialist and has a Masters degree in PR and Advertising from DePaul University. She has a passion for traveling around the world and trying new things.

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