Knowing how to speak and write in multiple languages is one of the most important skills for people who want an advantage over their competition for a job. Additionally, bilingualism (or multilingualism) offers many other benefits.
According to a study conducted by Harvard students, bilingual or multilingual people are generally better at picking up social cues. Therefore, they can be better at establishing new relationships. Also, in old age, people who speak different languages tend to have a more active brain, which has been found to delay the onset of dementia.
There are still many other benefits to be had from mastering more than one language. That being said, it is certainly worth it to make this your goal.
There’s no denying that learning a different language is no walk in the park. Essentially, you will need to build a whole new alphabet (in some cases), vocabulary, set of grammatical rules, and pronunciation. All of these can be overwhelming to approach when you’re already of more advanced age. (Note: Cognitive development studies reveal that the optimum time for language acquisition is from the ages of six and 10 years old. This is why the foundation of spoken English is typically taught in elementary school.)
Be that as it may, it’s not a hopeless pursuit, especially if you have a sound system for studying and applying what you have learned.
Suppose you wish to pick up a new language to harness the benefits of multilingualism, especially when it comes to pursuing a career. In that case, the most important thing to remember is to be serious about it. Establish this as a vital goal because this will put you in the proper headspace for learning.
Other than this, here are six tips to follow:
There’s nothing like getting formal instruction from a teacher who is fluent in the specific language you want to study, or is an actual native speaker. Also, classes offer an effective set of lessons to ensure mastery at every level of understanding and fluency.
It’s worth adding that when you take classes, teachers include a variety of exercises to ensure the application of knowledge, such as tests, conversations, and other engaging activities.
In a special NHK World feature on Japanese people finding it difficult to learn English, an English teacher pointed out that reservations are usually a major hindrance when it comes to acquiring a new language. For some people, the inclination is to study for a long time to achieve perfection, rather than putting things into practice. The approach is similar to learning how to drive; you must pass all the tests first before being allowed to use the car on the actual roads.
This is not the same thing with language. If you want to get used to it right away, practice it as much as you can. It doesn’t matter if you keep on code-switching, or you only inject words you know in your sentence. The important thing is to use the language and gradually construct complete sentences.
Learning is usually abundant with mistakes. However, it’s from these mistakes that you are able to correct and hone skills. As such, don’t pay too much attention to what others have to say or let them derail your progress — besides, the people who truly know better than you are often more encouraging and helpful than judgmental.
One of the best ways to fuel your interest in your language lessons is to consume the language in more ways. For example, watch movies in the said language (with subtitles, of course) and familiarize yourself with the vocabulary words, expressions, pronunciation, and intonation.
If you’re learning Arabic, for instance, start watching those highly recommended Arabic series on Netflix. There’s no doubt that you will learn a lot of phrases that may not even be covered in the classes you’re taking.
Songs are among the easiest learning materials to use when you’re in the process of acquiring a new language. YouTube now offers subtitles to help you understand words. Once you’ve memorized a song, you will find that you can easily replace nouns and verbs following the phrase or sentence patterns in songs. This can lay down a good foundation for syntax and grammar.
To take your learning to the next level, it always helps to set a big goal for yourself, such as passing the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with flying colors if you’re studying English.
A goal such as this will constantly remind you to study and practice, and as the testing date draws near, you will surely find yourself working extra harder to get all the lessons down.
If you’re looking for expert instruction for learning professional English or Arabic, we can provide what you need at the Regional Educational Institute in Abu Dhabi. We offer spoken English classes, IELTS coaching or training, Arabic classes, and many other courses. Just give us a call or send us a message to enroll in our language classes.