So you're in your 30's and never thought language learning was all that important, but now you do. Don't beat yourself up too bad. Its not your fault. We go through school from Kindergarten to at least seventh grade focusing only on English, Social Studies, Math, & Science. Everything else is considered "special" which means important, but not necessary. If you chose not to take a foreign language in the seventh and eighth grades, you arrived in the 9th grade only to find that you needed at least 3 years of foreign language to receive a diploma. WHAT!?! If you're like me your self reasoning might sound a little something like this :
--So let me get this straight. I've spent years building a foundation in these other subjects that I am expected to continue progressing and excelling in. I've spent little to no time focusing on a foreign language and now I am supposed to enroll in a new language class and do well in it, and focus on all the other things I have on my plate.--
Now think about this from the teenager/high school perspective. Its no wonder we didn't care about foreign language learning as kids. Sadly, its the same today.
The good news is, you don't have to give up on language learning just because you've started late. Here are 5 tips to help you work on fluency in another language. They work, even for adults.
Five tips to improve fluency in a new language:
1. Commit: Learning a language is fun but challenging. There are going to be days when you feel like you totally get it, and then others when you don't even want to try. Remember the end goal. Whatever goal you've set for yourself-whether its having a basic conversation with a native speaker, to be able to communicate on your next vacation, or simply ordering your favorite meal. Set the goal and get there. Don't give up on yourself until you do it.
2. Read books: This might be an overwhelming thought, probably because you're thinking about books at your current reading level as an adult. You're probably picturing chapter books with tons of words on the page. Nope! Let's get back to the basics. I'm talking about baby board books . (Click the link to see some great ideas). You know, those simple "see sally run" kind-of books. Think about it. You are a baby in the language. Allow yourself to revert back and enjoy it .
3. Create your own immersion program: This works, even in your regular environment. How? You might ask. Technology makes things a little easier than before when it comes to this method. Do you ever use your GPS? GREAT! Change the language to Spanish. Do you watch TV? Awesome! Watch a Spanish-speaking show for 30 minutes each day. Don't have cable? YouTube is a great resource. My personal favorite show to watch on YouTube is -Caso Cerrado-. The drama is unbelievable, and they have English subtitles. (p.s. using subtitles is not cheating). What other immersion ideas can you think of?
4. Party with the people: This one is for my social butterflies, night life junkies and dance-a-holics. Remember that native speakers of your target language have the inside scoop on what you're trying to learn. Grab you a friend, and visit a spot where you know native speakers will be conversing. Even if you aren't participating initially, surrounding yourself with the sounds, the feelings, and the habits of the culture is extremely helpful.
5. Teach your babies: This may come as a surprise to you. You're probably thinking -How can I begin to teach anyone else, I am learning myself- Well cut that out. Once you've started practicing tips 1-4, you're already on your way and have probably learned more than you think. One of the best ways to learn and remember anything is to teach the concept yourself. Not to mention how much fun it is to learn something new with your little ones. I've been teaching and tutoring Spanish for about 14 years and guess what, my Spanish is still not to the level that I would like it to be. I just consider myself a life-long learner. Don't have children of your own to teach? No worries. I don't either! Find someone else's kids or a friend that is willing to let you practice with them. If all else fails, volunteer in your community as a Spanish tutor.
Language learning doesn't have to be a daunting task. It's a challenge, but it is so rewarding. Are you worried about becoming perfectly fluent? STOP IT! Just get started and you'll amaze yourself once you see how well you can do. Remember this is your language learning journey. Get creative.
Have a language learning story or just want to keep me updated on your progress. Leave me a comment
Ready to start learning?
If you read this post and are serious about learning a new language, you just earned yourself a free virtual Spanish lesson. That's right! Free. I believe in the power of language learning so much, I am giving my secrets away! To schedule your lesson, send an email to Stylebyemjayc@gmail.com with the words TEACH ME, and we will set a date!
or send me a message on Instagram: @primped_prepped