This quarantine, those that aren’t in school and can’t go to work are struggling to find new hobbies to keep busy can be difficult. But rather than letting your brain rot with Netflix shows and Tiktoks, why not do something that might actually make you smarter and possibly more valuable in the job market? According to the Zip Job blog article by Caitlin Proctor, being bilingual or multilingual is one of the top fifteen hard skills employers are looking for in a candidate (Proctor). Being bilingual also provides a lot of brain benefits such as delaying the effects of dementia and increasing your cognitive functions. So why not work a little smarter by trying to learn a new language?
Being bilingual has always been considered a truly valuable skill that employers love in their applications because it allows them to have more diversity and allows them to have a connection with more clients. By being bilingual, you become the bridge between two cultures. A language barrier would be broken down between your company and a potential client which would be largely credited to your ability to communicate. Communication is fundamental to thriving in society, so why not connect with more people by learning a second language? But don’t be intimidated by it yet. Here are some tips to make language learning easier.
As with many other activities, practice makes perfect. By continually repeating sentences or phrases you’ve learned, it makes it easier to remember and reply in conversation. As well as saying the phrases, it’s also important to write them down so you know exactly what the phrase looks like if you come across it again in your lessons or in the real world.
Find a Practice Buddy
Whether you download a tutoring app that connects you to an online language tutor or you happen to have a friend that speaks the language you are learning, a major contributor to effective language learning is to actually utilize what you’ve learned in conversation. Having someone encourage you and correct your mistakes makes the learning process more enjoyable, as well as more effective in making your speech more precise and natural.
Watch and Listen
There are dozens of music streaming and video streaming services available to connect you to entertainment from all over the world. Having these sources available to you make them great tools to understand how the language works but also test your current knowledge. For example, I am learning how to speak Korean. Spotify has tons of Korean music that I listen to and test to see how many words or sentences I can translate in songs. If the language you’re learning uses a different alphabet system or symbols, look up romanizations to help you understand pronunciation and spelling and pair words and grammar together if you haven’t fully mastered reading or writing. You can also find streaming services that stream foreign films or shows and practice with and without English subtitles. If you’re learning an Asian language, the service Viki allows you to see both the English and Asian language subtitles so you can compare and contrast and identify words in Mandarin or Japanese etc. Youtube also has videos from a show called Extra that has episodes in multiple languages such as Spanish or French for beginners. So there you go! You can learn a new language and get to engage in some great new entertainment.
Start with the Basics
While it may seem self explanatory and obvious, there are some people out there who just jump right into grammar without really any understanding for vocabulary or pronunciations. The best thing to do is to start with simple vocabulary. Find maybe ten commonly used words every other day to add to your vocabulary. Try to find how they’re used in sentences to help solidify them in your head. Then once you have a good batch of words, then you can add the grammar and conjugations to enhance the meanings of those words that you can hopefully transform into a full sentence. There is no diving when it comes to language learning. It is all baby steps. Last thing you want to do is to offend someone unintentionally because you mistakenly called someone ugly instead of cool. (Believe me, I have done this).
Accept that the Path of Language Learning is Long
Learning a new language is not like learning to ride a bike. You can’t just get on the bike, start pedaling and suddenly you’re a natural. It takes a lot of time and dedication to make sure that you are properly learning the language and that you’re dedicated to learning for yourself and to honor another culture. So take it day by day. Don’t overload yourself with knowledge every single day. Take breaks. Spend a couple days with a handful of words that you can slowly build up over time. It’s not a race. Enjoy making mistakes and learning to correct them as you go. It only makes you a better learner overall.
As an example app that connects you to a tutor and provides you with more conversational language practice is PEERS edu. It is a private tutor service app where you can buy credits and find a quick tutor that will help you with a variety of subjects. You can find a tutor that teaches the language you’re learning whenever you want and however long you want. It’s a great way to get quality education and practice speaking with a native speaker who can correct you and help you speak more naturally. It is free in the app store, so try it out!
Language learning can be really fun if you put enough effort into it. Connecting yourself through language to a different culture is a way to find a connection to a different part of the world without leaving your home. I’d like to believe that if everyone learned a second language, different societies and people would be a lot closer and less divided than we are today. So rather than sulking at home, be a contributor to global connections through language and start learning a new one today! What can you gain from learning a new language?
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