July 20, 2019

Your checklist for learning a new language

An article by Vinita Kinra (@VinitaKinra)

As daunting as it may seem, learning a foreign language is relatively easy if approached with a well-defined plan and disciplined determination. It is not out of the ordinary to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of choices available to acquire the new skill; the secret is to skim through the haystack to find the needle that will weave your learning ability with the chosen method. If you are a structured learner, keep a grammar book and dictionary handy. However, if you are more of a visual learner, opt for audio-visual devices like listening to podcasts or watching movies with or without subtitles. The main idea is to have fun while learning. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, your learning will not go far at all. Try to befriend a native speaker and ask to always converse in the language you are learning. This will enhance your vocabulary and boost your confidence. Traveling to the country where the language you are learning is spoken is the ultimate lesson to polish your newly acquired sills. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s normal to mispronounce words foreign to you, so take a deep breath and don’t feel bogged down. You will make no progress if you don’t open your mouth. One-on-one tutoring is a good way of finding company with a person who will help you master a new language. Usually expensive, a few hours with a tutor every day is one of the more effective ways of getting a handle over a new language. Finally, set targets and do your best to achieve them. If you procrastinate or keep pushing practicing until an undecided future date, you will never learn. Learning is a day-to-day process, so immerse yourself. Think, talk, perceive, feel and express in the new language. This will bring forth a lot of scenarios you can mentally envision to practice your new-found love.

To summarize:

  • Have a well-defined plan and be determined to learn
  • Plan your learning according to your style
  • Have fun while you learn
  • Make friends with a native speaker
  • Travel to the country where the language is spoken
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
  • Find a tutor for one-on-one sessions
  • Set targets and do your best to achieve them
  • Immerse yourself completely
  • Open up all your senses to make learning a holistic process

Vinita Kinra is a Toronto-based author, editor, speaker and activist, best known for her short story collection, Pavitra in Paris, launched to critical acclaim in 2013. She is also a contributor for India’s largest English daily, The Times of India.


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