By “learning a new language” we refer to mastering it in all its areas, that is, both oral and written expression and comprehension, resulting in the ability to hold a conversation on any given topic (except for very technical or specific issues) with an English-speaking person or understand any text or article as if it were written in your mother tongue.
Before you start learning a foreign language you should ask yourself questions like:
- What are my aims when speaking a foreign language? Are my motivations personal or career-oriented?
- How long will I need to speak fluently in a different language? One year? Perhaps two?
- What are my best skills? Listening, written language…?
It is essential to have an answer for all these questions because it will help us plan our learning process and focus our efforts on whatever motivates us.
Once this point is clarified, let’s go to the nitty-gritty: if you want to learn a language from scratch or if you left it a long time ago and you are planning to take lessons again, there are a few things you should take into account:
- If you want to master a new language you need to know that this is a long-term task. This is not just a question of attending lessons for a few hours a day during the academic year. It is more useful to devote some time into it (15-20 minutes minimum) each and every day. This will help you incorporate all the acquired knowledge bit by bit.
- Patience is key. In the beginning you will feel you are barely learning anything but you will soon see the results.
- Generally, we start with the grammar saving the rest of the areas for later but this is a mistake. We should work all the areas at the same time, reading every day, watching videos, revising new vocabulary, and so on. In following articles we will give you some advice on how to achieve this.
- The more surrounded you are by a foreign language, the more you will learn. This is easier if English is the language of your choice: you can listen to the TV in original version (most programmes are broadcast in English), set your mobile phone in English and try to speak as much as you can to English-speaking people (or people who can express themselves in this language)
- Forget about your limits and obstacles. This is not an objective fact, it relates to your own perception of yourself and you will have to change it if you want to improve your learning. It does not matter how old you are, the fact that it is the first foreign language you learn or that you are not very good at learning other languages. It can be difficult for all of us and you are no exception but if you put your mind to it, you will be able to speak any foreign language in a relatively short time.
- There are endless free resources on the internet to learn languages: videos, podcasts, exercises… you can also find them in our website.
Finally, a last piece of advice: if you can spare some money concerning your studies, we recommend you invest in conversation lessons. Even if you start from scratch they will come in handy because you will benefit from the most practical aspects of language learning and at the same time you will see positive results in a short time, which will keep you motivated to carry on.
So stop putting it off and get started!