OMNI is Jamaican-born and has a fascination for cultural diversity, music and many other things.
Now, if you are in the beginning stages of learning or thinking about learning a new language, there are some key things to keep in mind and keep in check. Whatever the reason being for learning, whether it is for working occasions, just travelling to a foreign country or meeting that special person that you came across online. Learning a new language can be a life changing and worthy ambition but it can also be a whole tedious and challenging process if you are not mentally prepared for the task and ready to put the work in.
For those who have studied and ventured into the world of language and language learning before will already have that understanding grasped about what to study and how to study it, in that order. With that said it is easy to say that people who have studied a language before will find it easier to learn another new language in comparison to someone who has never done it before.
Anyone can learn a new language
The thing is that anybody can learn a new language no matter the stage or age. There are rather a lot of debates and controversy over the web about how adults learn vs. how children learn things overall including learning a new language. However, research shows even though it is very possible for adults to learn a language as efficiently as a child, the minds of the young still has a little edge over the mature mind when it comes on to learning , processing and storing new information. But this doesn’t necessarily mean anything because there are thousands of ordinary adults out in the world who have decided to take the journey seriously and still learning new languages with a few already learnt ones under their belt with no issues. With that said let’s get into the meat of the matter.
Types of languages to study
The type of language that one chooses to study is a huge determinant of how long it takes to reach the desired level, how easy it is to utilize that language and how retainable is the information that you studied. Reason being that there are many languages out there that are significantly different than English in the way that concepts and whole ideas come about. The English language is one which falls under the West Germanic category of languages and so it would be much easier to start with another language which originated from the same family, like Dutch or Norwegian.
On the other hand the languages which you might find yourself having to put most dedication in or might find the downright hardest to learn are the ones which origins are totally different than the ones similar to English. Examples are languages like Japanese and Chinese which are from the Ural-Altaic and Sino-Tibetan family of languages respectively and originated from the more eastern parts of the world. These families of languages are at the top rank for the hardest languages to learn in the world, no surprise. These are languages which use a more complex system of communicating and way different grammatical rules and alphabetic symbols from the familiar that English-speakers are use to. Unlike English, symbols and sign have more dominance and so are the accents and pronunciations and this is one thing that differentiates Germanic languages from the more ancient languages. Chinese is considered the #1 hardest language in the world to learn and you can see why.
If you happen to meet any language enthusiast or anyone who knows about languages, if you ask them the question; what is the best thing one can do to efficiently learn a new language, among the few things that they might say is immersion. Immersion is one of the best ways for learning anything in general and not just languages. But in this case, personally I’d say it tops the chart. The goal of immersion is to totally surround oneself with a particular stimulus; imagine being totally submerged under water. The reason why it is such a great way to excel at a new language is because it literally acts like a hardwiring mechanism to engrain information in the brain through repetition. It might not sound like much but the brain is very good at storing bits and pieces of information through repetition, just like how you don’t have to be constantly trying to remember the things you do on a daily basis. It is engrained in you by repetition. This is the same law which learning anything new follows (new language).
The process of being immersed includes much effort as the main focus is to try input as much of the target language as you possibly can in your daily life. This encapsulates reading books, watching Movies, watching, TV series, communicating with people, gaming and some people go as far as leaving their home country just to get a taste of true immersion. There are many different forms of immersion, but these listed above are just the common few.
My personal experience with immersion
This forces me to share a testimony, my personal experience with immersion in learning a language. It was a time back in High school. It was nearing the summer and I was taking on the General Spanish CSEC exams. This was a relatively big exam at the time and therefore I took it very seriously indeed. So, in preparation for the exam, I had slowly begun to learn about the different forms and methods of how to integrate Spanish into my life. At the time, these included watching my favorite movies and TV series in Spanish or with Spanish subtitles, using the internet to communicate with more and more people who spoke Spanish, also changing my favorite games into Spanish and taking in a whole archive of Spanish content in both audio and video format. To my surprise, I could see where my Spanish was becoming better and better. The best part was that it was in just a matter of days, not months or weeks as I had my mind set on at the time. This was a major turning point for me as this motivated me to study even more and as consistently, and I realize from there the true value of dedication and immersion in learning. I developed a huge liking and appreciation for all languages and cultures, for when it comes to learning a new language it is also very advisable to delve into that country/language’s culture and way of life and this I did. I indeed excelled in class and I did ace my Spanish exams at the distinction level. I later went on to do French and got similar results and looking to the future my hopes are to become a professional multi-linguist.
Drive (The under stressed value of drive)
One of the most vital factors when it comes to learning a new language is drive. The amount of drive someone has towards doing something or learning something can be detrimental or beneficial. Simply put, if you do not have a goal or reason for doing that thing, you will never do it as good or never get it done in the first place. Developing drive for something is not always the easiest of things to do, but in all cases only the ones most determined will pull through. You have to have a good enough reason to act as a constant reminder/motivator as to why this task needs to be done. By doing this, you are adding to that task a sense of importance and urgency which will assist in the molding of your whole attitude towards that thing. This brings me back to my testimonial story, where I met a female of interest online. This female, coincidentally could speak both English and Spanish. We kept in contact and we eventually became good friends still up to this day. This became one of the things that motivated me to continue learning Spanish and learn it to the best of my possibility and because I also marveled at the fact that my Spanish journey had inspired me to reach out to new people and build new connections.
On the other hand, there are several qualities that one is expected to possess if they want to maintain drive in language learning. These are qualities like perseverance and patience. Learning a whole new language can take a very long time for some and not everyone is ready for that, and one is sure to stumble up on several cases where it is hard to grasp and retain new words, concepts and tenses.
Having drive for the language you are trying to learn is the most important discipline to follow in the process. Without drive is like having a car that you don’t have the keys for. When you have your reason for learning that language, you will be ready to begin the actual learning process.
To the ones out there on this journey of learning a new language, or learning anything new at all, congratulations to you for simply devoting yourself. Closing with a quote from Charlemagne-“To have a second language is to possess a second soul.”
© 2021 OMNI