I feel very fortunate to know someone like Bharat Bhise, a polyglot who can speak no less than 6 languages, not to mention the others which he ‘speaks a little’. Bharat has a mind which just gets language, he doesn’t have to be around it for too long before he starts picking up bits and pieces and with a little bit of studying he just understands it and it stays in his head.
After moving to Mexico a couple of years ago I was really struggling with Spanish and so I asked Bharat for a little bit of help. To be honest he only really gave me a few pointers, but they helped out massively. I wanted to share the tips he gave me with you all, so that you too can increase how quick and how efficiently you are able to learn a new language.
One of the first things which Bharat told me that I should avoid was learning ‘conversational’ language, unless you are simply going somewhere for a vacation. The reason for this is that when you learn a language in this conversational style, they very rarely delve deeply into grammar. It is the grammar however which you should be focused on hardest as this is the structure which keeps the whole thing together. Think of your own language, you probably only know 50% of the words that exist in it, yet if you learn new words you’ll know instantly how to use them in sentences. When learning a new language you first need to understand the rules.
Bharat told me to stop avoiding conversations with locals and to instead immerse myself in the language. This can be hard, especially when you only know a little, because you can get confused very quickly. What this does however, is kind of brainwash you with new sayings, phrases and pronunciations, which you will then start using yourself. It is very much a sink or sim approach, you either sit there in silence as people talk to you, or you give the language a try, you will almost always opt for the latter.
Language Learning App
One of the best apps for learning a new language is called Hello Talk, it is a meeting of minds more than a learning app and you can connect with people who speak your chosen language, who also happen to be trying to learn your mother tongue. Through chatting you can correct each other, send voice messages, ask questions and learn how to write, how to speak and enunciate and it takes the pressure off any embarrassment which you may feel when you are out and about. This app is great not only to learn languages but also to find friends and connect with people all over the world.
A daily vocabulary quiz is also a great idea when you are leaning a new language and learning just 10 words per day can greatly increase your range of vocabulary.