Thursday, October 24, 2013

5 Tips to a New Language

It's a big and beautiful experience to dive into: not just some new vocabulary, but a whole new perspective and culture.

Hola y bienvenidos a mi blog! 
I'm sure a lot of you reading this have practiced another language at some point. Maybe some classes in high school? Perhaps you were lucky enough to study in a foreign country? And I know I've got some other ex-pats out there living abroad now. 

My second language learning experience started with Spanish. I started with high school and college classes, studied abroad in Spain, traveled, and currently live in Peru...all these experiences have helped me build up my language skills. Language learning is a big and beautiful experience to dive into: not just some new vocabulary, but a whole new perspective and culture. 

So here's a few of my top tips to picking up another idioma:

1. Immerse yourself. If you have the opportunity to study/live abroad - do it! If you don't, find another way! Maybe you can make international friends to correspond with or local language exchanges to participate in. Consistency and real life experiences will take you leaps. For me: I'm certain that while I studied Spanish in classrooms for about 7 years, I learned more my year abroad studying in Spain. 

2. Take a breathe and a risk. I often hear people who are learning a second language and going through the first stages of putting yourself out there. The truth is, it will be as scary and intimidating as you make it. But in real life, we're all just people and the important thing is that you're making an effort. You will make mistakes. But it's so helpful to be able to laugh at them (and jot them down to remember next time). Learn to explain with body gestures and different vocabulary. Take a breathe and just do it!For me: This would have been the most helpful advice to hear from someone. It took me a bit to put myself out there, but now it's second-nature. 

3. Make local friends(or boyfriends). This piece can take you far with your language skills. And it makes sense why: you spend more time speaking the language and learning from native speakers. This can be through everyday activities and routines (the bread shop, laundry-mat, etc), a language exchange, or social networks - like CouchsurfingFor me: I've learned a lot about language and culture from the people I've lived with. Plus, having a Spanish-speaking boyfriend (now husband) helps too!
4. Take notes. So even if you're not in class this can be very helpful. Try to have a little notebook to jot down anything that you want to remember or a new vocabulary word to look up {Word reference is great}.
For me: Goodness knows I'm still learning vocabulary all the time! I underline new words in books and try to look up them up.  
anything can be achieved in life, although it seems crazy.

5. Pick up some slang. Learn the typical words of places! Even if you don't feel comfortable using them, it will help to understand the locals. This jerga can show a lot about a culture and be entertaining too. For me: This has come to be one of my favorite parts of learning Spanish.  Here are a few favorites (another post is coming soon with more of these):
1 pura vida - pure life. Costa Rica   2 cerveza pinguino - a cold beer (literally 'penguin beer'). Peru   3 chimba - cool. Colombia

What other tips do you have? What do you like about learning other languages? 

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