Before discovering the secrets of language learning, I will take you a little back to when you were in school. There was a subject called Trigonometry, which all of us dreaded (except the nerdy ones, of course), and then there was the games period which all of us loved.
We learned Trigonometry for the sake of passing the exams, and we knew even back then that nobody was going to ask us to measure a specific triangle by Pythagoras’ Theorem in our lives. But, when it was the time for games, everyone wanted to learn something. Either it was somersaulting, dribbling the basketball, skipping with one leg, or as in my case, throwing a ball straight.
Finding that same sense of motivation is the key to successful language learning, and it’s something everyone can do. You need to have a genuine stake in the result of your language education, just as you did in your games period, and just as you previously did, without realizing it, when you were learning your mother tongue. This is the only way to ensure you get the most out of your language education.
Babies can recognize native speakers of their language before they speak it.
As social creatures, humans appear to be able to tell “us” from “them” In the early days of civilization, it may have been our finest tool for differentiating our community from those who stole our harvests and cattle.
This talent can help us understand our place in the world and communicate with others.
We learn from individuals we identify with, for example.
As newborns and toddlers, we imitate our parents. We say “I love you” after they’ve said it hundreds of times, and soon we’re taking their ties or heels or using awful things we learned from grownups. We learn to be ourselves by mimicking our society and group.
When we talk, we sound like other native speakers of our mother tongue, and many of us utilize regional accents. We copy others’ speaking patterns, facial emotions, and talking pace.
As a language learner, you may already know that immersing yourself with native speakers (a sort of immersion) may help you attain perfect pronunciation and grammar far faster than working with other students. Immersion helps adults acquire native-like brain function.
All language students can’t immerse themselves completely. Imagine yourself in a community or group that speaks your target language.
Many of the great polyglots you may have heard or read about have discovered this secret of employing empathy to create an authentic personal investment in a second language. Still, they do not all discuss it in the same manner or with these words.
There are as many methods to create an intimate personal relationship with a language as there are prospective language learners. While it is beneficial to learn from the experiences of others, each language student should seek out the best method for them.
Here are some popular strategies for falling in love with, connecting with, and genuinely mastering a language through empathic relationships with speakers and their cultures.
Language Immersion for (Social) Survival
Placing yourself in rural Vietnam is one approach to ensure that you need to study Vietnamese as much as you did your native tongue. Isolated from speakers of your original language, you will develop an instant and authentic engagement in Vietnamese as your instrument for completing your daily tasks.
The brilliance of absolute immersion is that it forces you to interact with individuals around you. There is no reason to worry about your accent or seek a multilingual buddy to help you sort out a complex scenario.
The key to successful immersion is creating many social links in the target language and developing one or two crucial relationships, such as the closest friend in the village or the host mother. By (subconsciously or consciously) emulating their speech, these types of connections will improve your capacity to connect with and learn from others by enhancing your ability to learn from others.
Immersion Environment: Expanding Your Foreign Language Social Circle
If you cannot relocate to a region where your native language is not spoken, the next best option is to create an immersion environment at home.
Focus on a community of native speakers of your chosen language as your core social circle. You can begin by joining an international group at your school or university, your firm’s Malaysia or Brazil branch, or a local refugee organization or ex-pat group.
Suppose you do not have access to a university or multinational firm. In that case, you can use internet resources such as Couchsurfing, Meetup, and other language- and travel-oriented social networks to find nearby speakers of your target language.
The key is that creating an immersion environment at home is challenging. Still, it becomes much simpler if you invest in a strong connection with a love partner or best friend with whom you can communicate exclusively in the target language.
In this method, your language abilities will develop naturally due to the relationship. Your investment will pay off as you quietly adopt your partner’s or friend’s native speech patterns and phrases.
Investing in Popular Culture: Accepting Your Inner Television Addict
Television, books, and the internet all assist you in acquiring local language vocabulary and culture. They can also serve as potent keys to open another one.
As a language student, consuming popular culture is advantageous since it teaches you to listen before speaking. Too frequently in conversation, we are preoccupied with constructing our following statement rather than giving the person in front of us the complete attention essential for truly deciphering their language.
But when you watch Netflix in your target language, you can devote all your mental attention to watching the speaker’s facial expressions and word choices without feeling compelled to respond.
The trick is that the finest shows leave you eager to see what happens to your favourite characters in the following week’s episode. Find a TV series, book series, or continuing blog that captures you completely.
This type of continuity enables you to develop a sense of personal investment in the characters, simulating our ties with real-world speakers and motivating us to acquire empathy from them.
Investing in Your Career: Foreign Language Work
A career is not only one of the most compelling reasons to learn a language but also one of the most effective ways to practise one. It doesn’t matter if you’re volunteering in a hostel abroad, transferring to your company’s Tokyo office, or searching for one of the numerous jobs for multilingual; as long as your paycheck or your dinner depends on you learning your target language, you can rest assured that you have the necessary personal investment.
Working in your target language compels you to take the language as seriously as you do your native tongue, similar to dating or socializing. When business meetings, conference calls, negotiations, and customer contacts are all conducted in your target language, you can use it to do activities involving human collaboration and clear communication.
And with a reward that arrives once or twice a month in the form of a paycheck, you can be assured that your drive will not wane.
The trick is that the perfect employment for language learners will force you to use your language in various circumstances, such as over the phone, with coworkers and clients, while producing reports and delivering presentations. Consider the many ways you utilize your native tongue and seek a position that will demand you to perform as many of these tasks as feasible.
Infatuation with a Country or Culture
This is the easiest to execute but the most difficult to prepare for.
Julia Child did not travel to France to fall in love with the nation and its language, but she did so via her passion for cooking.
Travel to Italy, Azerbaijan, or Ethiopia and fall in love with the locals, their cuisine, their dancing, or their way of life. As with your tongue, you will quickly realize that learning the local language is your sole means of accessing this dazzling new world.
Everyone has a love, and everything from music to theatre to philosophy to sports to comics might be the key to understanding a foreign culture and language. And once we have discovered these passions, finding a community of native speakers with whom to share them, whether online or in-person, provides a means of forming relationships with others in the target language.
The trick is that the more multimedia or multisensory a cultural pastime is, the better it is. Literature is a terrific way to learn a language if you already enjoy reading, but if reading is your passion, consider supplementing it with audiobooks and film adaptations of your favourite novel to develop all of your language abilities.
Open your eyes, ears, mind and heart
For most of us, learning vocabulary and practising grammatical rules will never be sufficient to achieve fluency.
This is because we are all human. Who wants to spend the day on worksheets and verb tenses when the world offers many other intriguing activities and inspirational individuals to meet?
Instead, if you want to learn a language organically, you should focus on its human element. Level with the locals and let your shameless, inquisitive inner kid play with and learn from them.
When language-learning practice consists of coffee with a buddy, watching movies on the sofa, or summer abroad, you will quickly become proficient in a language and its culture.