Ever since I could remember, I had a fascination with Paris and my first time seeing the Eiffel Tower was in the book Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans. The little girl with the red hair and funny voice intrigued me, but Paris as an actual place didn’t become more real to me until I got older.
When I studied abroad in Paris last semester, Paris was as real as it could be. Walking down the streets, discovering each neighborhood that was so different from the next, and of course, hearing that (now) beautiful accent everywhere I went was surreal – I finally felt like Madeline! 🙂 Now that I am done with my French minor requirements, it feels so odd not having to take another French class, as I have taken one each semester since my freshman year. The French language has become such an important part of my life that it’s so important for me to continue practicing.
So maybe you are currently taking a second language class now and are struggling with finding the time to practice or maybe you have been wanting to learn another language but are thinking, is it too late to learn? And my answer to you is NO! Here are some tips I have learned along the way that I wanted to pass along to you:
- Put in the time. First and foremost, you should make the commitment to not only make the learning process a daily habit, but also be willing to put forth the effort and work to learn a new language. It’s not an easy process, by any means, but what you put into it will affect how much you will have learned. You may have a busy schedule with school, work and extracurricular activities, but make it a habit to set aside 30 minutes to an hour to sit down and learn (more about how you can do this later on).
- Dive right in. So you’ve already made the commitment to learning a new language right? So go ahead and dive right into the learning process. Start with the basics, like learning vocabulary and key phrases like “Hi, nice to meet you, my name is______. What is yours? or “How are you doing today?” to “What are your hobbies/interests?” Make flashcards. Go on YouTube to hear how native speakers talk. If you are more tech savvy and want to be on your phone, download apps like Mindsnacks or Babbel.
- Speak, Speak, Speak. This is probably the most important piece of advice I can give you, as speaking is crucial in learning a new language. From the moment you choose which language you want to learn, start saying words/phrases/sentences aloud, so as to start retaining that information in your brain from the very beginning.
- …but also listen. While speaking is important, so is listening. Getting as close to the correct pronunciation in the language you are learning is a goal you will want to be achieving. You can only reach this goal by listening to the correct pronunciation and then repeating it over, and over, and over again to yourself. Learning/speaking a foreign language is going to sound strange the first few times, but as you keep progressing it will become more familiar.
- Find someone to talk to. Learning a new language is so much more fun when you are learning it with someone else, so maybe you can convince your roommate or best friend to do it with you! If anything, doing it together will push you to not give up and keep pushing through. I know at Hope there are many different opportunities for you to meet others who are also learning the same language, like a conversational group. Take advantage of those kinds of activities and get comfortable with leaving your comfort zone!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and I wish you good luck on the learning process if you do choose to learn a foreign language!