#1 – Learn the right words, the right way.
Starting a new language means learning new words. Lots of them. Of course, many people cite a bad memory for learning new vocab, so they quit before even getting started. But–here’s the key–you absolutely do not need to know all the words of a language to speak it (and in fact, you don’t know all the words of your mother tongue either). Use the Frequency Dictionary or you can find pre-made flash card “decks” of these most frequent words (or words themed for a subject you are more likely to talk about). Concentrate your efforts in the right direction, start with the most common words!
#2 – Learn cognates: your friend in every single language.
Believe it or not, you already—right now—have a huge head start in your target language. With language learning you always know at least some words before you ever begin. Starting a language “from scratch” is essentially impossible because of the vast amount of words you know already through cognates.
Cognates are “true friends” of words you recognize from your native language that mean the same thing in another language.
For instance, Romance languages like French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and others have many words in common with English. English initially “borrowed them”, change that –tion from English to a -ción and you have the same words in Spanish. Italian is -zione and Portuguese is -ção.
To find common words with the language you are learning, simply search for “[language name] cognates”. Here is an example: http://ielanguages.com/romance_phrases.html
#3 – Interact in your language daily without traveling.
To hear the language consistently spoken, you can use a vast selection of live-streamed radio from your country of choice. The app (free) also has a list of streamed radio stations ordered by language.
To “watch” the language consistently, use various foreign TV stations & youtube to watch the programs in the original language.
To read the language consistently, in addition to the news sites, you can find interesting blogs where you can see even more interaction.
Participate at our various cultural and social events, Conversation groups, come and watch the foreign movies in original language w/ English subtitles etc. The complete list of ALL our events is always available o our website at www.multilingualsociety.org
#4 – Join a group class or start taking private classes.
There are so many wonderful books and online resources out there BUT, due to our busy lives and crazy schedules, we often need this sense of “accountability” in order for us to really DO something on a regular basis instead of postponing it for an unforeseen future. And quite often the mere fact of knowing that you have an upcoming class will give you this extra push you need to find couple of hours and study.
If you truly want to learn a foreign language you need to put some time and effort into this, line anything else …, granted, but with the guidance of a teacher the whole process is much easier and much more efficient.
ALL teachers at Multilingual Society are certified and have a lot of experience in teaching foreign languages. Give it a try! Here is the schedule of our GROUP classes http://multilingualsociety.org/language-classes/
#5 – Embrace mistakes.
Use everything you do know with emphasis on communication rather than on perfection. This is the pivotal difference. Sure, you could wait until you are ready to say “Excuse me sir, could you direct me to the nearest bathroom?” but “Bathroom where?” actually conveys the same essential information. You WILL be forgiven for this directness, because it’s always obvious that you are a learner. The goal is to have a CONVERSATION, may be not a perfect one, but a conversation. You can always build on this foundation and work on finessing your language skills more and more.
Don’t worry about upsetting native speakers for being so “bold” as to speak to them in their own language. They will appreciate your effort and will be more than happy to help you.