Have you ever been frustrated because you feel like you never get anywhere in your language learning? Things are going so slowly and you feel that you forget what you learn before you even have the time to say "onomatepoetikon" (or any word, actually)?
How about this: you've reminded yourself thousands of times that the word "bord" is "intetkjønn" (neutral), but then when you need to say it, you still have the same doubt and you end up saying "borden" instead of "bordet". Why does it never stick?
Learning a new language is not easy, and it takes time. BAM! That's the truth, now we have to figure out how to deal with it (and how not to).
I've gathered some tips for you that I hope will help you make your learning process more efficient, less frightening and, perhaps most of all, more FUN!
When you were a baby, how did you learn to speak? Did your mom read a grammar book for you at bedtime? Of course she didnt (I hope)! You were in a natural language immersion and you started picking up easy and useful words and added on it, slowly, but steadily.
That is what I want you to do: immerse yourself in the language (pay attention to people around you, listen to music and watch TV, even though you don't know a single word of it quite yet).
Listen to all aspects of the language. How is the melody (when a person is surprised, sad, angry, happy...)? Do you recognize any words? What words are used A LOT (and can you guess what they mean thanks to the context)? The body language as well as the situation (plus universal words) help a lot in figuring out what people are talking about.
Of course, you already know this one, but the problem is that it can be really SCARY!
I'm going to say this to you straight away: YES, people will hear that you have an "accent", you will make mistakes and sometimes you will also be misunderstood. That's life. Now, are you going to lock yourself in untill you've learned to speak Norwegian (or whatever language) fluently (which is never, especially if you don't dare to make mistakes)?
Remember, talking is not only about grammar and pronounciation. Forget about that for a moment. Try to recall why you wanted to learn this language in the first place? To show off your grammar skills? I don't think so...
Most people want to learn a language either
a) because they think it is pretty or
b) because they want to communicate in it (or both).
Now, if you, like me, are learning a language to be able to speak it: then just DO it! It doesn't matter how many mistakes you are going to make. In fact, the more mistakes you let yourself make, the better! The fastest way to learn is by making errors (and by being open to people helping you to rectify them).
Plus, another thing, as we were talking about babies: WHY on earth do babies learn languages at all? Because it makes sense to them and it is useful! It's so much more motivating to learn a language when you can actually USE it to something, and, as you've probably noticed, remembering new words is much easier if you put it in a phrase (or several) and a real context.
Make sense out of it by talking it, use it for what it's made for and you will learn without even noticing it ;)
3. THINK IN THE OTHER LANGUAGE
When you start thinking in a new language, it's like you are talking to yourself. Talking means practicing and making sense out of the language. Practicing means enhancing learning... It's simple math.
Another good thing here is that while you think, you'll notice a lot of stuff that you DON'T know how to say, or that you are not sure about. Knowing this, you'll also know what you need to find out about... And this leads us to my fourth advice:
4. ASK AND BE CURIOUS
I'm sure that if somebody who didn't have the same mothertongue as you asked you a question about your language, you wouldn't be offended, right? You wouldn't think that the person is "stupid" or something like that? So why is it so difficult for us to just ASK when there is something we don't understand? I mean, what is the harm?
I truly believe that most people are flattered when a foreigner is genuinly interested in learning their language, and that they are glad to help! Don't you?
One of the best way to learn quickly, is really to ask when there is something you are unsure about, or simply want to learn.
It's not like when you are in a classroom and your teacher is trying to stuff as much information down your head as he/she possibly can (and you end up getting confused, falling asleep and/or remembering about 10 percent of it - if you are lucky!)! When you are genuinly curious about something, you will remember the answer! So, be curious! ;)
PS: if you don't live in the country, use social media, you'll easily find friends online to communicate with. You can for instance try the site "www.mylanguageexchange.com" where people offer so "teach" you their language in exchange of you teaching them a language they want to learn.
5. MAKE STICKERS!
For vocabulary that you rarely use (for example names on kitchen equipment and furniture), write down the names on stickers and post it on the things! Everytime you use it, you will be reminded how it is called in the language you are learning ;)
Hang up post-its with expressions and words you want to remember on your mirror or any other place that you go past a lot throughout the day. When you start remembering the words without looking at the post-its, you are free to take them down again ;)
6. MAKE SENSE OUT OF DIFFICULT WORDS AND PHRASES
I love this one! This is great fun and REALLY effective! I'm saving probably the best advice for the ones of you who had the courage to get through the whole article, congratulations! ;)
Don't you just hate those words that just "don't want to be learned". Why, for instance, is the word "vanskelig" so difficult to remember?
I'll tell you why: they are long, difficult to pronounciate and they are very different from other words you know in your own language(s).
The trick here is to turn that around by making sense out of it: use your imagination by dividing it into several words and make a phrase out of it, or try to make another way to remember it that makes SENSE (yes, I'm emphasizing it again, it is THAT important!). This is much more effective than repeating it to yourself over and over again (and more fun, remember...?).
So, I'll show you how you can do with the word "vanskelig" (meaning "difficult", but it won't be difficult for a long time, I promise).
Let's make three recognizable and simple words out of it: "van" (the car), "ask" and "Elly". Here is my phrase that will help you remember it:
"To borrow the van, ask Elly. It's not that difficult, is it?"
And of course if you speak several languages, the phrases you make can be a mixture of them. And the phrases can be absolutely ridiculous, that might even help you remembering it even better! And what counts is that you remember it, right?
In the beginning you will have to think a bit before you remember the word again, but it gets automatic after only a few times :)
I hope some of these tricks might help you:) And if I've made any errors here that you are dying to correct, please do! I promise not to be offended ;)
Do you have any other tricks that you would like to share that works (or not) for you? Have you ever tried some of the advice above? How did it go? Please leave a comment below, I would love to know :)
Vi preikes (snakkes)!