How to learn a new language: Never too late, never impossible

Category: Translation           Written by: Daqeeq          Date: 23 May 2021

Daqeeq says….

How to learn a new language: Never too late, never impossible


How many times we have heard people saying that their poor English has been the major impediment in building the successful career they have aspired to?
Maybe it is Chinese you want to learn, because China is rising as a super economic power, or Korean. Maybe you love how French sounds. In all these cases and for other motives, you may make up your mind to learn a new language, but you step one or two steps away, giving age as an excuse, or time restrictions.
Age is not a problem at all, experts say, and you can use the COVID-19-dictated lockdown to use your time in a useful activity to realize an old dream.
According to a survey by the British Council, cited by BBC, 10% of respondents used the first lockdown to learn a new language or brush up on their linguistic skills after a break.
Alex Rawlings is a polyglot, speaking 15 languages. He has six pieces of advice for those who want to learn a new language. The first has to do with age, as mentioned above. The studies that show an increasingly limited ability to grasp the grammar of a new language as you grow older talk about grammatical proficiency, which is a far-fetched goal even for native speakers. You can communicate in another language with grammatical mistakes.
The other surprising revelation is that learning a language is not a special gift, but a skill that can be learnt and polished with rehearsal and hard work.
“It’s a little bit uncomfortable when people talk about you as having some kind of language ‘gift’ or being some kind of language genius,” he says. “It’s not how I see myself. For years I didn’t speak those languages, and for years I had to learn them and had to really struggle with that,” he was quoted as saying.
It is assumed that you are encouraged now by the two previous tips. Now if you want to start, the best beginning, according to the polyglot, is to learn individual words, preferably as part of a cluster, or a specific topic, and learn the meaning, pronunciation, and spelling and memorize them.  This topic might be food, or clothes, colors, …etc.
The fourth tip is something that all seem to agree on it, even laymen, which is to read, watch movies and listen to songs in the target language as much as you can.
You should practice hours and hours, people tell you, don’t they? Well, Rawlings has another surprise: practice little, but consistently and frequently. He suggests one hour a day, but do not skip it. Long rehearsal sessions, but sporadic and disorganized timewise, are less effective, he says.
The last piece of advice is also pleasant. The more languages you learn, the easier it would be to learn a new one. BBC cites research findings to support this theory. More, if you master dialects of the same language, that gets you closer to multi-linguals.  Science also brings the good news that learning language delays old age cognitive disabilities, such as dementia, and keeps mental functions normal.

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