Top Tips to Becoming a Polyglot
Learning a new language stimulates both your curiosity and cognitive abilities in a variety of incredibly useful ways. Understanding the cultural aspects behind colloquialisms and gestures is a skill that can be applied and tested in multiple contexts. Even if the learning and assimilation is tough and does require commitment and hard work, it pays off. Sometimes, it pays off when you never even expect it.
Here is a list of useful tips and recommendations for you to consider if you wish to impress your international colleagues and put yourself on the right track to become a polyglot.
1. Choose a language that fascinates you
Learning a new language is a matter of practice. You have to be consistent, even if it is for just 5 minutes a day. Based on your background, some languages are going to be tougher than others, but do not be discouraged. Whatever your motivation for choosing that language, always keep that in mind. Set yourself some goals and make it fun. There is no point in doing it if you are forcing yourself to do so.
2. Start. Not tomorrow, not next week. Start today!
There are now several free apps you can download on your phone to help you through the journey. Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone or - if you are strictly a visual learner - Drops are just some of the most popular ones offering a variety of different languages to choose from. If you are committed and have the possibility to join an evening class or a summer course, go for it. That will provide you with some solid foundations and help you correct your pronunciation.
3. Find a language buddy, make new friends
Forget about being embarrassed. We have all been there. Having a partner will help you practice and keep you more motivated. You may be able to find language exchange meet-ups in your city or fellow learners among your friends, or you can join HelloTalk and chat with native speakers worldwide. Speak - even by yourself; hear how your voice sound in that language. Set yourself daily reminders and keep up with the good work.
4. Practice again and again
Change your phone settings into the new language. Take every chance you have to practice and do not ever worry about making mistakes. Learns concepts, expressions and words in their contexts. Do not worry too much about having exact translations, but be sure to understand when certain things are used and why. Be curious. Whenever you are walking about try and remember how the different objects are called. You don’t remember? Well, look it up!
5. Practice some more
Extend your vocabulary and pay attention to gestures, customs and related cultural features. Listen to music, watch movies (start with subtitles), read books (no shame in reading books for children), speak with natives. Find something that you love doing and dig into it. If you can, go where the language is spoken and engage with locals. Ask away. You will see results sooner than you think. At the beginning, it will be tough - VERY tough. You may feel incompetent and unable to fully express your feeling or get frustrated when unable to grasp different accents or even just words you thought you knew. You may feel tired, confused and even get headache, but do not give up.
Easier said than done, right. Whether it is an entirely new language you just started or one you studied a long time ago and you have now decided to brush up, the trick is to expose yourself to it as much as possible. Some people are more confident in speaking, others prefer to listen. There is no right or wrong. Everyone finds their own way. You just have to be persistent.
Once you are familiar with more than 2-3 languages, comparisons and mix-ups in your head becomes quite common. Nothing will stop you from learning your 5th language in your 4th, and you may find yourself starting a sentence in one language and finishing it in another without even realising it. You may even find yourself slowly forgetting words in your native language, but that’s fine. Do not forget you are always gaining more than you are losing.
The process of learning a new language is a (tumultuous, exciting, challenging, long) journey of beautiful discoveries.
When are you beginning yours?