In 2021, the world is increasingly a global community. 13.5% (just under 43 million) of Americans speak Spanish as their first language. And, 16% (just under 53 million) of Americans speak a dialect of Chinese. Finally, with the transition of the traditional workplace to one where employees can work remotely, and clients can be across the world, foreign language learning is becoming an increasingly top priority for professionals living in the United States. In this article, we’ve selected the best techniques for learning foreign languages, leaving it up to you to pick which one you prefer.

WHY IS LEARNING A FOREIGN LANGUAGE IMPORTANT?

There is demonstrable evidence that people have an infinite capacity for learning language, especially if the student starts young. Foreign language knowledge also impacts other areas of your life – such as academic achievement at the college level, provides increased employment opportunities and can prevent age-related cognitive disorders and losses.

According to the US Foreign Service Institute:

  • It takes 600-750 class hours (or, 36 weeks) of learning to obtain basic fluency in foreign languages classified in Categories I and II (languages more like English, such as Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, etc.)
  • It takes 1,100 class hours (44 weeks) of foreign language learning to obtain basic fluency in Category III languages (languages with alternative alphabets, or significant cultural differences from English, like Russian, Vietnamese, Finnish, Farsi, etc.)
  • And, it takes a staggering 2,200 hours (88 weeks) for native English speakers to learn basic fluency in a Category IV (languages that are very difficult for native English speakers to grasp, such as Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean)

THINK LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE IS BORING? THINK AGAIN – WITH THESE TECHNIQUES, YOU CAN IMPROVE YOUR SKILLS WHILE HAVING FUN!

HERE ARE SEVEN UNORTHODOX LANGUAGE LEARNING TIPS THAT MIGHT JUST CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE IN THE LANGUAGE LEARNING PROCESS:

Stage a Play
It doesn’t have to be a big production. Remember that the keyword to these tips is fun while learning. Stage a short play for a small audience you think would enjoy.

Of course, the other key point here is to stage a play in a completely different language, preferably the one you’re learning. Make use of the language while having fun in this simple activity.

Go on a Blind Date
One way to meet new people, have fun, and practice a new language all at once is through this unconventional tip.

Go on a blind date with a native speaker and try practising a few key phrases with them during your date. You can even go to a restaurant and try practising your basic phrases while ordering.

Cook a Foreign Dish
The important part of this exercise is to cook a dish in which instructions are written in another language. This not only boosts your vocabulary, but it also helps acquaint you with basic phrases and instructions.

To avoid any accidents, start out with minor dishes first. You don’t have to be able to cook a grand meal yet, just make sure you get the hang of the language.

Buy Comics
Like children’s books, comics are also fun and easy to read, and can also help you be more familiar with the language you’re learning.

Aside from this, interesting storylines and appealing images won’t make it look like a chore, but more of an engaging exercise that both appeals to your visual senses, and helps you learn faster and better.

Once you’ve gotten the hang of reading, learning the language overall will be much easier.

Explore Your Surroundings
This one is for people who are travelling to another country. To really test whether you’ve learnt the language right, head out of your cosy hotel room, and walk the streets.

Ask the locals about facts and places in the area where it might be good to stay and further immerse yourself in the culture. Just make sure you can find your way back later on.

Write Down Your Grocery List
Similar to learning to cook in your language of choice, writing down your grocery list is a simple and engaging way to incorporate the language in your daily life.

In fact, before getting on the recipe itself, you can start with the grocery list first. Build your vocabulary by identifying as many kitchen materials and foodstuff in a foreign language you know. You might be surprised by your progress.

Introduce Yourself
Try this out with a friend, or with a pen pal.

Practice communicating with others in a foreign language by making a full introduction using that language alone. Avoid code-switching to your native tongue, but try to sound as natural as possible in your introduction.

Don’t be too stiff. If you’re comfortable enough with the person whom you are sharing to, you can also ask for feedback on how well you used the language.

LEARNING DOESN’T ALWAYS HAVE TO STAY IN SCHOOL, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO AN IMMERSIVE TOPIC LIKE LANGUAGE. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX AND ENGAGE IN ACTIVITIES THAT MIGHT SEEM A BIT DIFFERENT FROM CLASSROOM EXERCISES.

INCORPORATE THE LANGUAGE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE IN YOUR DAILY LIFE TO MAKE IT FEEL MORE NATURAL TO YOU.

SO WHAT IS IT ABOUT SONGS THAT MAKE THEM SUCH EFFECTIVE ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNING TOOLS?

It works. There is considerable scientific evidence that demonstrates how music can help second language learners acquire grammar and vocabulary and improve spelling. Then there is the so-called “Mozart Effect”, the concept that listening to classic musical boosts the performance of mental tasks like learning.

Everyday language and colloquial speech. Songs and music almost always contain a lot of useful vocabulary, phrases and expressions. And since the intended audience is native speakers, songs and music include up-to-date language and colloquialisms. The language used in songs is casual and actually usable if you pick the right music.

Get familiar with the sound of English. Listening to songs will also allow you to focus on your pronunciation and understanding of the English language’s rhythm, tone and beat.

Get English stuck inside your head. Many of the words and sound patterns within a song are repetitive and this makes it easier for them to stick in your mind. You probably already know this. Music has an uncanny ability to get stuck in our heads. Tunes and lyrics will often infiltrate our thoughts and play over and over in our minds. All of which will help you to learn English through songs as you easily memorize vocabulary and phrases. In fact, after a short period of time, you will find it almost impossible to forget them.

Songs are emotional. Our relationship with music is deep, powerful and hugely rewarding. It is a key that unlocks our emotions, influences our moods and enhances our mental and physical well-being. When something is emotional, then, of course, it is also easier to remember.

Music is an easy habit. One reason people find language learning difficult is they don’t have an extra minute in the day to devote to their studies. But when you’re learning English through songs, you don’t need to set aside too much time because you can take the music with you wherever you go. You can have English songs playing in the car, the kitchen and the shower. And by picking the music you like, you can listen to the same material over and over again, without becoming bored.

Music teaches you English culture. Music gives you insight into the English-speaking culture and how English-speaking people think and feel. Familiarity with popular songs and artists gives you something to talk about with your English-speaking friends.