Learning a language is one of those things that most of us put on our to-do list. But how long has yours been on that list and when do you plan on changing it from a ‘to-do’ to a ‘done’?
We run courses on language learning skills (not just languages themselves, but the actual skills you need to pick up languages quickly) in St Kilda, and I’ve had experience speed-learning a variety of languages. Find out more about the course here or keep reading for our top 7 hacks.
start with adverbs
Most people jump straight into learning nouns, verbs and other basic word. But a great way to get a quick handle on a language is to start with adverbs; words like quickly, barely, basically.
These words have a big effect on the meaning of a sentence. As you start learn the language’s nouns and verbs, you’ll have a clearer understanding of new sentences because you already know the adverbs. This will speed up your language learning.
write substitution stories
This is a great technique for learning nouns quickly. Put together a list of nouns you want to learn, then write an English story with foreign-language nouns thrown in. Read over the story when you’re finished, then start again with a different story. You can even try rewriting a passage from your favourite book, looking up nouns and replacing them as you write.
This is great because it contextualizes the words and helps you learn. One important note: be careful with non-noun words. They often change depending on grammar, so won’t fit into English stories.
focus on building blocks before grammar
Grammar can be tough. If you don’t have the building blocks to start with, it can be even harder.
Getting a head for nouns and adverbs will put you in a great position to move onto grammar. You’ll understand the sentences better and you’ll have the tools to practice the rules you’re learning.
So verbs and grammar should be learned at the same time.
find meaning bridges
‘Meaning Bridges’ link the things you already know to the things you want to learn. Finding links of any kind helps you learn faster.
Let’s look at some examples. The Spanish word ‘ante’ means ‘before’. An ante-room in English is the room you enter ‘before’ you get to the rest of the house.
In this case, they probably have a similar root word, but you can be creative too. The Spanish ‘saber’ means ‘to know’. You can think of knowledge as a sword (or a sabre). That connection will help you learn faster.
buy a book you love in your chosen language
I did this when I was learning Indonesian. I bought a bahasa Indonesia version of the Philosophers stone. I already knew the story, so I could figure out a lot of the words as I went. Sure, I ended up learning a lot of words about magic and wands, but it’s a familiar way to get better at an unfamiliar language.
attend our language lab
Learning language alone is great, but working with other people can more than double your progress. Language is communication, so make an effort to spend time with other people.
We run an event that goes over more skills for learning any language. It’s fun, curious and social, so book a time and come see us at St Kilda for 4 weeks of 2-hour classes.