Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Carly Talks About: Language Learning

I’ve been attempting to learn Dutch for the past 6 months, and although I’m not nearly as far along as I would have liked, I have definitely learned a few things about learning a new language.

     1.      Do not have an opinion about how hard/not hard learning a new language is until you’ve actually tried!! This is so important! I used to say things about how easy/hard it must be, and you really have no idea until you actually try for yourself. It’s not even that it’s so much more or less hard then you think, it’s just that it is so very different then you imagine it.

    2.      Consistency is so important, but also, so very difficult. It is far better to practice 30 minutes a day then 4 hours a week. But you’re likely not going to have the motivation to practice every single day. I try to balance the time and frequency of my studying for what I know is reasonable. Some days I study for an hour, some days for 10 minutes, and sometimes I don’t study for a week straight. But I have found the frequent, short bursts of studying are the most effective way to learn.

    3.      Being brave is literally half of the battle. I know many people say this, but damn is it true!! I think language learning is more a test of the amount I can handle being embarrassed than anything else. I literally have to take time to myself after I speak a lot of Dutch because I feel so self-conscious and overwhelmed. But it’s also the only way you’re ever going to get better! So be brave and try! And just try and remember how impressed/thankful/happy you are when others make an effort to speak your native language. (And if nothing else, at least you know you provided someone with a good laugh!)

    4.      You’re not always going to know more then you knew the day before. …Actually, sometimes, you’re going to feel like you know a lot less. It’s strange how it works, but sometimes my brain just doesn’t want to speak Dutch…. But the good thing is, you’ll also have weeks where all of the sudden you feel like your skill level has improved X10! It’s definitely not a linear process, but be patient with yourself, you’ll get there.

    5.      Try as many different methods as you can. Right now I currently have lessons once a week, do audio lessons on my computer, and do Dutch “games” on Livemocha (a language website), along with practicing with my friends and co-workers. Having a variety of ways to learn makes it fun, and keeps things interesting. It can also be helpful for different learning styles to experiment to see what is best for you. What works for one person isn’t always going to work for another.

    I could really go on and on about this process, but I’ll stop there for your sake. Basically all you need to know is that yes, it’s going to be hard, but it’s also going to be a rewarding and an amazing journey… and if nothing else, you’ll have a whole new respect for bi-lingual people!!

    Ps: ya, I made that word cloud. Feel free to be impressed with my epic graphic design skillz.. also, google translate is responsible for all errors in said word cloud.
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    You can also find this post on the Wonderly Blog!

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