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Ways to Learn a Foreign Language
There's quite a lot to learn when you're learning a language, and it may take a while, but there are many good things about it, such as being able to talk with people, and to be able to understand what's going on.
We have all learnt at least one language, (our first language), so it may be seen as proof we have ability to learn another language. However, the first time around, we were younger.
Later in life, acquiring another language sometimes requires a different learning processes to be involved.
It's worth knowing that you can use a variety of different methods at the same time. These are all towards the same thing: learning the language. So, it all helps. Here is a list of language learning methods, ordered in a way that makes some sense to me:
1. At an early age, it's possible to learn your first language, but at that time the people around you are able to think along with you and to devote much time and thought into helping you along. Also, you haven't got so many other commitments in life.
2. There are traditional school-style methods of teaching a foreign language. Although considered by many to be pedantic and laborious, there is a certain efficiency in having one teacher succeeding in conveying knowledge to a class of many, especially if they put on a good show. However, there is a tendency for school teaching of language to miss out on the cultural aspects, and to be about passing exams, rather than being fluent in the language. Adults considering going to a language school may be relieved to hear it's not as bad as being a child in school, but more like being a student in university, because the people are there at their own behest, by their own choice, and are not prisoners of the education system.
3. Personal one-to-one language tuition, is available and effective, although more expensive. Learning to drive a car is done that way, so language tuition is possible in the same style.
4. Language courses are available. There are a number of these including Linguaphone, on the Language and Translation page. You study at your own pace. Crucial factors in success include persistence and practice.
5. Living in a place where the people speak the language which you are trying to learn. This is very effective, and there is an element of adventure. If you try this, various travel operators are there to help arrange your travel. Also, it's worth knowing that in most destinations you can control the rate at which you wish to study, by deciding how far to venture from a resort. Some travel companies specialise in the language learning aspect to travel for example Volunteer Travel and Eurolingua, and some of the others on the Language and Translation page. Whether deliberately arranged or informally implicit, it's a fact that if you speak English as your first language, you'll end up teaching people English to some extent while you are learning the local language. Student exchange programs, au-pair arrangements, and tourism, all add to the mutual language-learning around the world. Remember, though: You are likely to learn the dialect and style of speech of the area you go to. Plus, cultural aspects tend to be picked up, and are different for different geographical locations. This is a real consideration, and may help to influence your choice of destination.
6. Language learning by deciphering. Most famously, The Rosetta Stone was used for deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, as the words on the stone were in several different languages. You can learn language by this method to some extent too. If you have a piece of text written in your own language and a copy of the same piece of text in the language you are trying to learn, you can study and compare and discover the meanings in the language. The method is good if you have an analytical way of thinking. The method works best if the language has regular spelling, and is backed up by other methods. Because languages don't translate precisely one-to-one, it's possible to get an idea of the different concept structure and cultural aspects of the language. Be careful if the written language which you are learning has irregular pronunciation, as you'll need to have a vocal source as well.
If your first language is English and you're learning Spanish, it's helpful to watch English language films that have been subtitled (not dubbed) in Spanish. (Spanish is especially good on this, as the pronunciation is very regular, although not the same as English pronunciation). Also see Subtitles versus Dubbing
Si su primer idioma es el español y que está aprendiendo Inglés, consulte el sitio web de Zyra en Inglés con el sitio Web de la Zyra al español (máquina-traducido).
If you are using machine translation, be careful as it isn't perfect. You can get around this by getting original material in the language you're learning, and then use machine-translation to translate it into your own language. Because you speak your own language fluently, you can easily overcome the mistakes the machine makes. Find websites written in a foreign language and translate them into your primary language. Have both pages open at the same time. As I'm originally British and I'm learning Spanish, I tend to read online newspapers in Spanish and alongside them the Google-translated English version.