Did you know 97% of Swedes are bilingual? Or 67% of Germans? While more than half of people around the world can speak more than one language, in the United States only one in five speak a language other than English.
As the economy becomes increasingly global and travel and online communications bring us all closer together, speaking two or more languages can be a ticket to professional advancement and personal fulfilment.
But, one challenge to learning another language is that it becomes harder after our teenage years. Harder, but not impossible. Online language learning solutions have become increasingly popular and while they often provide a solid foundation for learning the basics, they’re no guarantee you’ll be able to competently speak or write a new language.
So, what’s the most effective way to learn? Here are a few tips:
• Don’t do it alone: Continual conversation is an important way to learn and gain confidence in a new language. Find a friend to learn with or one who speaks the language you want to learn and is willing to be your sounding board.
• And if you are alone…: Even when your friend isn’t available, there’s no harm in speaking to yourself out loud – especially if you’re trying to learn how to pronounce correctly.
• Don’t be afraid: It’s natural to make mistakes when we try anything new. Learning a language is no different. Avoid feeling self-conscious and be willing to sound like a total beginner – because you are and that’s okay!
• Pay attention: Learning a language isn’t simply about memorizing words on a page or computer screen. Stop and listen to how native speakers use words and expressions and how they pronounce.
• Start with the everyday: Learn and practice is common situations. Unless you need to learn jargon that’s specific to a field or interest, stick to words and expressions that will help you every day. Once you’re proficient, you can build your vocabulary.
What language do you really want to learn or have successfully mastered? Visit the Shop Talk blog community forum and ask other members for their tips on how to learn – and share your experiences, too!
Did you know: After Spanish
Spanish, of course, is the second most spoken language in the US but what’s next? That would be Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Arabic.