Are you planning to learn a language? Or have you already started doing so? In either case, you have an exciting linguistic journey ahead of you. Languages can provide a fascinating learning experience and provide you with a valuable new skill along the way. In this article, we’ll take a look at why learning languages is important and consider how language learners can use different techniques in order to aid their studies.
Language and translation for daily life
The market for online language learning is huge, with the potential to grow during the 2020-2024 period by $18614.64 million. Some 45% of that growth is estimated to originate from Asia Pacific, while the market overall is projected to see year-over-year growth of 17.85% in 2020. If you’re learning a new language, you’re far from alone!
Why is language learning important? Language learning is important for enhancing our ability to communicate across both national and international borders. With humanity facing some exceptional challenges right now, taking a joined-up, global approach to matters such as climate change, food security and global health has never been more important. Doing so calls for cross-border communication and the understanding of other cultures like never before. Language learning plays a key role in this.
Of course, language learning also provides a host of other benefits. Learn to translate from Spanish to English and you open up almost all of Latin America as a potential holiday destination, as well as mainland Spain. You can also use your Spanish language skills to browse the internet as well, meaning you can do everything from reading the latest news in Spanish to comparing different paella recipes!
What can language learners do to improve their learning experience?
There are several lessons that language learners can take on board in order to ensrue that their language learning is as effective and enjoyable as possible. Firstly, it’s important to understand and get on board with the fact that accuracy is everything. This is something for every learner to take on board. From spellings to accents, every element of the language is important and there for a reason.
Accuracy is particularly important when it comes to writing your new language. A misspelling or neglected accent can completely change the meaning of a word, so be sure to practice your vocabulary regularly. Consider the difference in English between “she’ll” and “shell” or “we’ll” and “well” and it’s easy to see what a huge difference in meaning even a single missed apostrophe can lead to.
Bear in mind that the number of hours that you need to study for will change from language to language. However, whether you’ve opted to study the hardest language to learn or the easiest, accuracy remains an essential component of success.
Practice your pronunciation
Secondly, when learning to speak a new language, pronunciation is everything, so practice, practice and practice some more! Often, speaking a foreign tongue is not just about translation but also about using your vocal capabilities in new ways.
When speaking Portuguese, for example, various words require you to roll your R’s, even if this isn’t something you do in your native language. Can you learn to roll your R’s? Yes, absolutely. It’s hard to do if you’re not used to it, but you can learn to roll your R’s with enough practice. Even those whose languages include rolled R’s often master that sound later than many others, so keep going until you’ve mastered the skill.
Localize your learning
Another lesson is the importance of localizing the language experience. If you’re planning to travel to Portugal, for example, make sure that the online language course that you choose is for European Portuguese and not Brazilian Portuguese. While people will still understand the latter, the former will sound more natural.
Pursure your interests
The sheer scale of materials available online can also provide inspiration for language learners. From literary works to marketing documents, the internet is home to information on as wide an array of topics as you can imagine. As such, why limit your own language learning to prescribed textbooks and grammar companions?
If you’re interested in history, for example, jump online and find some historical sites that interest you in the language you’re learning. The same applies whether you’re interested in fashion and beauty, philosophy or the challenges of urban planning! Whatever your chosen subject, there are bound to be websites of interest that can help you to practice and grow your language skills.
Mix up your media
Our final lesson is on the importance of considering a range of media when it comes to language learning. Studying a language isn’t just about written documents. The internet has plenty to offer in this respect.
From audio of native speakers to video clips, TV shows and full-length movies, there are plenty of ways that you can absorb language while also enjoying some light entertainment. Videos with subtitles can be particularly useful, as you can listen to the language that you’re learning while reading the real-time translation on the screen. This is a great way to accustom your ear to the way that the language is spoken, as well as to enjoy exposure to vocabulary that you’re not yet mastered. Of course, pick movies or TV shows that you enjoy watching and you get the added benefit of enjoying some down time while still learning the language in question!
If you’re learning a new language, incorporate the above tips into your language learning regime and you’ll be well-positioned to get the best out of the entire experience. Focus on accuracy, practicing your pronunciation, localizing your materials, pursuring your interests and mixing up your media and you will quickly be able to improve your language learning. And as the learning process becomes more and more enjoyable, the more you will want to stick with it, so these tips are excellent for maintaining your motivation as well!