Just because you took two years of French in high school doesn’t mean you still know how to ask where the bathroom is. In fact, if you can’t remember a single word of the language, it might be a good time to get your brain in gear and add some new, foreign words and phrases to your vocabulary. To get serious about learning a new language in 2018, you’ll need to do a bit of prep work, especially if you’ve never attempted to learn how to say “You should really invest in two-ply toilet paper.” We’ve done the legwork, and gathered the best tips to help you get started in your new language learning endeavour.
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If you don’t care which language you want to add to your skill set, why not start with the easiest (or hardest) one? According to the United States Foreign Service Institute, English speakers will have an easy time learning languages such as French and Romanian, requiring up to 750 hours of study. Languages such as Arabic and Japanese are considered “super-hard” languages, requiring around 2200 hours of study according to the FSI.
Instead of typing in your latest list of vocabulary words, or hitting up Google Docs to practise your sentence structure, pull out the pen and paper. Writing it by hand not only improves your retention thanks to your brain being more attentive in this state, it also improves the likelihood you’ll achieve your goals when you combine your longhand writing with the act of sharing your goal with someone else, creating the sense of accountability.
Waiting in line sucks, but if you have some phrases to practise, those 90 seconds in line can add a new word to your vocabulary. You should install an app such as Duolingo or Rosetta Stone, two language learning apps that offer over 20 languages and employ different learning strategies to aid in your language learning process. Rosetta Stone is pricey, so if you’re still hesitant about shelling out a monthly fee for their subscription service, try out Duolingo, which is free, but not as in-depth as Rosetta Stone.
You should look for a partner if you want to polish your verbal language skills. That doesn’t necessarily mean paying for a tutor, either. You can find free resources that connect you to other foreign language learners either willing to volunteer their time or who are looking to learn English from someone like you, a native English speaker. If you don’t have the time to schedule a sit-down with someone, use an app such as ELSA, which will listen to your pronunciation of words and offer corrections.