Learning a new language may sound like a daunting task. However, it doesn’t need to be like this. If you choose a gradual and consistent approach, you can learn a great deal over a year. However, it requires determination, focus, and motivation.
It is well known that the best time to learn languages is when you are very young, such as 3-7 years of age. However, we shouldn’t get discouraged because we still have the great potential to learn when we get older. Learning the pronunciation is definitely much harder once you get older, but you can still learn through baby steps.
One should divide up the large goal of learning the new language into subunits. For example, first you want to learn the basics – alphabet, numbers, days of the week, greetings, etc. Then you want to learn special sounds. Proceed consistently, and remember that everyone has to start somewhere.
It’s a great idea to purchase a professional and thorough dictionary. Having a dictionary that is portable is also a great idea. Commit to learning a few words every day, for example. Just randomly flip and point at a word, and then read it, say it, and make a mnemonic for it. For example, try to associate the word with a pun in English. Or look closely at the transliteration, and see if it’s a similar sound to English. Oftentimes, you find commonalities.
For vocabulary, you need to group together new words into common categories. You can make a list of categories that you want to memorize, for example animals or sports. Then look up, and quiz yourself often. Flash cards are a great and fun way to learn too.
Technology is your friend when it comes to learning a new language. Software is easy to find online, such as Rosetta Stone. Also, the internet is now full of speech and video of all the major languages: English, Arabic, Spanish, German, Japanese, Italian, French, and most of the lesser known languages also. For example, Wikipedia is available in almost all tongues.
One good idea is to find news websites in the specified language. It’s easy to find newspaper websites for example. I know that Arabic newspapers and news sites are now widely available. I have also seen many German websites, and it’s easy to find German television channels streaming online. So you can vary your approach – read a bit, watch some TV, chat with some people of that country, etc.
Another idea is to listen to the desired language on the radio. For example, where I live there is a Spanish radio station that can be listened to in the car. And if you have a nice portable radio you may be able to pick up signals from the country you’re interested in. Also, on the net you can find streaming audio very easily.
And don’t underestimate real world interactions. Try joining a conversation group if it’s available. Or try to meet a pen pal, and then maybe talk on the phone too. Learning a new language enriches your education and broadens your perspective. The options are endless for learning a language, but the initiative is yours.