Learning a new language doesn’t have to be from a textbook or a classroom. In fact, learning from its roots and culture is actually more beneficial. When it comes to learning a language, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not just about learning vocabulary—it’s about the meaning, emotion and culture. I’ve been learning Spanish for about seven years on and off now, and I even attended church in Spanish to help me comprehend it in a different way. If you don’t have these resources available to you or someone that speaks the language fluently, it can be difficult to get a grip on the language fully. However, it is possible! There are endless resources online, in your community, and so on.
Attend Culture Events
You can find a lot of culture days at your university! Also, you can ask your friends or family about local events. Festivals during the summer and fall months are extremely common as well and can be found by simply searching the language you’re learning followed by the keywords ”culture events near me” and you’ll find lots of things depending on your location! Keep in mind that there are also a lot of virtual events due to COVID-19.
Listen to Multimedia in the New Language
Another great way to learn a language is to listen to podcasts, music, shows, movies, speeches, or even the news in that language. If you’re able to obtain a translation in English, that’s a huge bonus because you can follow along. Duolingo has podcasts and stories available so you can follow along and work at your own pace. You can access shows on Netflix or YouTube and some cable providers provide news in all languages. Learning Spanish has been one of the most accessible languages for me to learn and this is one of the most effective ways.
Read! Read! Read! Read picture books, magazines, encyclopedias, anything. Have a dictionary next to you and try to read as far as you can without looking something up. Use clues from other words to help you figure it out, but I cannot stress this enough…READ! It may seem silly to take out a children’s book in another language, but that’s what we did when we were learning English. Eventually you will be on your way reading chapter books and scholarly articles. It takes a lot of time and hard work, but you’ll be proud of what you can accomplish.
When it comes to learning a language; speaking it right is just as important as learning what it means. Different dialects can become confusing so I highly recommend finding someone who speaks the same one you are learning! Whether it is a tutor, friend, teacher, or family member—practice speaking it as much as you can. Apps like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone have available options but you do have to pay for them.
What Language Will You Learn?
According to the Linguistic Society of America: “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.” Learning a new language strengthens your brain. The possibilities are endless and will open so many opportunities and learning experiences for you! So what language will you learn? Are you already bilingual? Let us know!