How to learn a language from scratch!

Are you planning a holiday, short break in a foreign country this year? Or maybe you are planning to move to a country for work or to spend your retirement. It can be daunting enough to do this anyway but even more so if you don’t know much or any of the language spoken there. The aim of this blog post is to give you a few handy tips of ways you can learn a language quickly for whatever purpose.
The truth is you do not need to spend years studying a language to learn enough to get by on. You can easily learn enough of the language in a few months if you stay focused, learn the right things and stick at it regularly, that really means doing some form of learning every day.

Focus on your reason for learning

Keep your learning goal in mind at all times to stay focused on what you really need to learn. If you are going to work in a school you need to know how to talk to the children and other teachers. If you are going to work in a particular business or industry learn the specific terms of that industry. Maybe you just want to integrate with the locals, in which case you would need to focus on listening, speaking and conversational phrases. By having an end goal to work towards you are more likely to stay focused throughout the learning process.

Create a plan

The key to successful learning is to be organised and plan your learning each week so you know what you want to cover and by when. For example, in order to cover all key skills; vocabulary learning, reading, writing, speaking, listening and grammar, you could focus on one per day. So on one day each week you might just concentrate on learning a set of vocabulary. This may be by creating your own flashcards or using an online flashcard creator such as Anki. The next day you may focus on listening to audio, podcasts, Youtube channels and so on.

Everyday phrases

The first thing you should do is learn the essential phrases you need to get by every day. Things like “Where is the …?”, “I need …”, “Do you sell …?”, “I’m sorry”, “Excuse me”, “Can I pay with a credit card?” and so on. The easiest way to do this is to get a phrase book which will have all of these in it. They are normally pocket sized so you can easily carry it around with you to dip into when you have a spare 5 minutes during your day.
Try to find list of the 100 most common words used in the language and focus on learning these first.

Minimise grammar

Try not to focus too much on grammar rules in the beginning. At first you just want to be able to speak a bit of the language and not get too bogged down with complicated grammar rules. You can focus on these later on when you understand more of how the language works.

Use the language

It is one thing to learn the new words and phrases but to really make them stick you need to be practising them and using them with native speakers who can help you improve your pronunciation and give you tips and advice. Once you have grasped enough of the basics try to find a native speaker to practise with. This could be someone you know at work, a neighbour, a friend or even online through a language exchange site such as MyLanguageExchange, Conversation Exchange amongst others.

Use technology

Nowadays technology makes it so much easier to learn a language. Apps like Duolingo, and Memrise are free to use, they are fun and highly addictive by using games and interactive exercises. You can even watch via the internet national TV channels and listen to radio stations channels from the country of the target language. Not to mention the many videos on Youtube that can help you learn the language as well as watch TV shows, adverts and songs in the language you are learning.

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