Every one of us has struggled with learning a second language at some point of our lives. Some struggle in their childhoods, some in adulthood.
Today, we will talk about both these stages and how to improve your language skills at any time of your life.
The basic principle to learn or improve any language is to surround yourself with the language. This means that you create an environment where you see, hear and practice the language at all times (or most of the time). Here’s how you can do that:
Being surrounded by people who are fluent in the language you are trying to improve is the most effective way of improving your skills.
Not only will you hear the language being practically used, you will also be corrected if you make mistakes.
AKA read. This is the second most effective way of improving your language skills.Reading helps you get familiar with words and their use in a context. It also helps improve your vocabulary. I personally suggest that you always keep a dictionary or a thesaurus near you when you read.
What should you read?
The type of books you read depend on the kind of learning you are expecting. Are you trying to learn basics? Or are you trying to improve your formal language skills?
Children’s books are very helpful if you want to get started with the basics. It has all the basic grammar and vocabulary so it is easy to understand and develops a good sense of context and basic tenses.
If you are looking for more sophistication, opt for classic novels, newspapers and biographies.
For informal and casual use of the language, go for magazines.
Watching, again , includes hearing but in a more visual way. Watching a person speak a language gives you knowledge about the context of words and the body language associated with them.
What should you watch?
Watch movies. You can review them, go back and forth and understand the context and usage of a word better.
Watch TV to improve your hearing skills. Since you cannot review something you watch on the television, it becomes a challenge for your brain to quickly hear and interpret what the words mean. And challenge always improves a skill.
Speak alone. It will relieve you of the fear of making a mistake in front of people and you will practice in comfort. Speak, hear yourself and fix your mistakes. Speaking alone will also improve your fluency in the language.
Speak in front of people. Start with people you are comfortable with. People who are fluent in the language. Slowly walk out of your comfort zone and start speaking publicly. This will boost your speaking skills as well as your confidence.
Lastly, let’s not forget that like everything else, language skills take time and practice to develop. Give it both and observe the results for yourself.
Best of luck everyone!