Have you been looking forward to learning a new language or rediscovering a foreign language you already mastered?
During the Covid-19 period, many people have relatively more time, hoping to learn a new language.
BBC Word of Mouth presenter Michael Rosen interviews Alex Rawlings, who speaks 15 languages, to find out how he Master multiple languages. Maybe it can also provide some practical tips for your language learning.
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- Several Judgment Basis for the Optimal Age of Language Learning
- When do we forget our mother tongue
One, remember — it’s never too late to start learning
When it comes to learning a language, people first think of age and think that it is best to start at an early age. If you reach a certain age, you lose the ability to master a foreign language fluently, miss a “critical window” and so on.
A recent study suggests this so-called critical window is around age 17. However, the survey only looked at participants’ proficiency in the grammar of another language.
How many of us can say that we have a complete grasp of the grammar of our native language? That said, age is not a barrier depending on whether you can learn a foreign language well, although of course you may make some grammatical mistakes.
Even if you don’t speak a foreign language perfectly, native speakers don’t care, it’s better than you speaking English to others loudly and slowly.
Second, learning a language is also learning a skill
Although Alex speaks 15 languages, he told the BBC it wasn’t because he was inherently different.
He said it made him uncomfortable when others said he had a language “gift” or “genius”. He said that he never thought of it that way, and that he didn’t master so many languages at the beginning, and it took many years to learn, and it was also very difficult.
So even masters who are proficient in multiple languages still struggle. Learning a language is not easy, Alex says, and it makes you realize there’s so much you don’t understand.
It is true that some people learn languages more easily than others, but not because only certain people have these abilities, but because of curiosity and hard work.
Not only that, Alex explained that for millions of people around the world, knowing multiple languages is also necessary for their survival.
For example, in some parts of Africa and South America, you have to master multiple languages. If you live in Johannesburg, South Africa, you need 5 languages to survive because everyone speaks multiple languages.
Third, find a way to start that suits you
Alex loves the process of learning new words, and he finds it very exciting to see a new word in the beginning and finally become a vocabulary that he has mastered.
The way he learns is to start with some simple greetings and basic vocabulary, and then get used to the language, listen more, and become familiar with its sounds and rhythms. After that, follow the book or course to study.
Alex’s trick is to make a brain vocabulary map for himself, for example, if he wants to go to a store, he writes down on a piece of paper all the phrases he can think of that can be used in a store environment, and then look it up online. Say it, and recite it.
This way, the words to use to go to the store are solved. The same method is then repeated as required by the locale.
There are also some people who feel that language application software apps are better to use. The coronavirus lockdown has seen a 132% surge in new users of the free online language-learning app Duolingo.
The advantage of using language apps is that only you know how well you learn, so as not to be embarrassed in front of your classmates.
Fourth, find ways to create a language environment
There are many ways to learn a foreign language, not necessarily in a school environment, just find the one that suits you.
According to Alex, the most successful way for him to learn a language is to not realize you are learning it, for example, by watching movies and books about the language you are learning.
Linguists say that movies and television can provide many visual cues that are helpful in language learning. In addition, the tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language that accompany certain phrases can help convey their meaning.
At the same time, film and television can also provide language learners with accurate and authentic pronunciation, different accents, dialects, and nuances in how native speakers speak, compared to perfect textbook example sentences.
Alex argues that studying just to cope with passing exams leaves people uninitiated. He hopes that language learning is more about exploring the world and the culture of a country, so as to be more motivated.
Fifth, study hard and practice more is the key
Learning another language can be difficult or easy, depending on what your native language is. The more similarities there are, the easier it is to learn.
Taking English as an example, it is easiest for native English speakers to learn French, Spanish, Norwegian and Afrikaans, and they only need about 600 hours of study to achieve basic fluency.
But it’s much harder if they learn Japanese, Korean, and Arabic.
The most effective way is to study and practice more, a little (an hour) a day, which may be better than long-term but intermittent learning.
Six, the more languages or dialects you have, the better
Studies show that bilinguals learn a new language faster than those who only speak one language.
And, even among stroke patients, those who spoke more than two languages were more likely to regain cognitive function than those who spoke only a single language. There are even studies showing that being bilingual can also delay dementia (commonly known as dementia).
Not only that, but linguistic research has also found that even people who speak two dialects of the same language share the same cognitive characteristics as bilinguals.
Another study showed that children who spoke multiple languages and two dialects had better memory, attention, and cognitive flexibility than children who spoke only a single language.
In Norway, children who learn to write in two Norwegian dialects score much higher than the national average on standardized tests.
Therefore, whether you want to practice your language for holiday travel, or want to understand foreign movies or read books in foreign languages without subtitles, or want to chat with new friends and colleagues, or simply want to stimulate your brain, hurry Take action and stop making excuses.