Language is one of humanity’s most interesting and complex phenomena, one that is described and interpreted differently by scientists the world over. If it’s the second most perceptible tool of communication after body language, what does one do when attempting to make oneself understood in a foreign language? How should one fight anxiety driven by the fear of being misunderstood? The answer at first seems difficult. The standard method of daily practice to learn another language is all too often turned into a boring routine that completely demolishes any willingness to keep learning the new language. It’s tough, but it’s possible. The world record belongs to Ziad Fazah, who reportedly claims to speak 60 languages.
There are really only a few steps you have to make to see some progress and improvement. First is the creation of a plan. Secondly, you must gain stability, which is likely to be the most difficult. And, last but not least, use the skill.
Below is a program that offers activities in a five-day program; these exercises won’t take more than 20 minutes of your time each day, but the pay-off is almost guaranteed.
Monday: Small Talk
Starting on Monday, I suggest an active exercise – talk to a friend or acquaintance. The talk can be held in a familiar location, such as a café, and can be merely a discussion about the weather. Language is a mean of communication, therefore there is really no way to develop it by avoiding direct usage. Pick three topics which make you comfortable to talk about and practice your developing communication skills each day.
Tuesday: What’s your favorite genre?
Music is arguably an essential part of the modern generation’s lifestyle. You can get something useful out of this pleasure too though! Listen to bands, podcasts, and shows in your target language. When you feel like listening to the same old playlist switch it up a little and listen something to that language you want to learn. It’s worth it!
Wednesday: Shows or Movies? Perhaps both…
If you feel like watching a comedy after an intense day at work or school, why not watching it in a foreign language? It can help you establish positive feelings towards that language. Don’t forget to enable subtitles. It’s just about developing those positive feelings now ;-). You’ll probably realize you understand more of the context when you’re reading. That’s because reading and listening are different channels in your head. If you want to work on your listening skills, watch it twice. First time with the subtitles and the second time without them.
Thursday: What about Hobbies?
Use the passion for your beloved extra-curricular activities to create a challenge for yourself. Name all the actions, terms, things and anything else that has to deal with your hobby in your chosen foreign language. Imagine you can talk about your passion in another language. Pair it up with good presentation skills and people will love it. Love playing video games? – switch it to your chose foreign language.
Friday: Student exercises?
Of course, if you want to be a master of a chosen language, reading and writing are essential skills as well. It won’t help you with speaking and listening as much as most people believe but its definitely an important part of mastering a language. Luckily, the number of resources available has dramatically increased over the past 10 years and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. All thanks to the evolution of the internet and technology.
If you can make this happen for twenty straight days (5 days x 4 weeks) without any lame excuses, oh…just you wait for a sweet, sweet reward! So go for it! This challenge will help you get going on your way to mastering any language you choose.
Some useful links for your language learning!