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What are your language goals for this year? Honestly, that’s one of the most important things for you to establish when learning a new language. Without understanding what your goals are, all the fantastic techniques in the world aren’t going to help you. Are you looking to gain academic qualifications? Do you want to read your favorite book but in another language? Are you hoping to make some new business contacts in another country, and want to communicate clearly and effectively? You may even be hoping to find online tutoring jobs yourself. Once you have solidified your goals - whether they’re large or small - you can then start to figure out the combination of techniques that will best set you on the path to success.
Thankfully, we live in a time when whatever your goals are, and indeed whatever your budget is, there will be a combination of options available to you to learn any languages. Today’s technology has not just provided a wider range of educational tools, it has also removed many of the obstacles that were formerly in place. The options available to us keep developing and here are some to explore this year.
One of the most exciting opportunities for learning a language today is the open market for tutors. Not so long ago the idea of engaging a private language tutor wasn’t a possibility for most people. Aside from the fact that it would have been prohibitively expensive, there were limited choices. You had to find who in your local area was qualified to guide you.
With online learning platforms, learners have access to hundreds of private tutors located across the planet. With a stable internet connection and a camera, students connect with coaches committed to teaching English and many other languages, who are not only qualified and experienced, but introduce them to nuances of the language of which only native speakers have first-hand knowledge. The steps to learning a new language have never been more accessible.
These platforms also open the market to learners on a variety of budgets too. Most will have filtering options to help you narrow your search based on location, lesson frequency, and cost. Thanks to the widespread availability of learning platforms, even those without a huge disposable income have access to fascinating conversations in new languages.
Role-playing has always been among the top tips for learning a new language. It helps to place the learner in a simulation of real-life scenarios. This strengthens the retention of vocabulary and grammar, but also serves as a key way for the learner to build confidence.
Forums, learning platforms, and free online video chat services have all enhanced the possibilities for role-playing. By making friends online with native speakers, students can role play with a variety of different speakers on a wide range of subjects. This is far more accurate and useful than the textbook teacher-student role-playing methods and bolsters an essential tool in understanding how to learn a language.
Connecting with a qualified tutor is inarguably one of the most effective elements to learn a language fast. However, a really useful method of support is exchanging language skills with other learners.
There has recently been a boom in learners looking to exchange language skills. For example, a native English speaker learning German can exchange skills with a native German speaker brushing up on English. It has become a trend for learners to connect on forums, and even though language learning apps in this way. Not only do learners benefit from strengthening their language skills with a native, but there’s also potential to make new friends across the globe.
Accessibility has been a key advantage in the current technological state of our world. We exist at a time when we have access to many things that we previously couldn’t have considered. As a result, the best way to learn a language - through immersion - has been made so much easier.
It’s not always practical for learners to head abroad to the country of origin for their language, but a type of cultural immersion can still be achieved. Using current technology, learners can enhance their skills by engaging with relevant popular culture. Set up a playlist on your music app with only songs written in that language, learn their meanings and sing along. Spend an evening on a video streaming service and watch the most popular movies in that language. You can order or download the Harry Potter books in 75 different languages - the one you’re learning is bound to be included.
The point is, your learning experience will be enhanced if you surround yourself with the language as often as possible. It’s never been easier to do that than now.
We live in the age of user-generated content. Across the planet, people are utilizing cheap and effective technology in order to produce video and audio content, and make them accessible largely for free to anybody willing to engage with them. This represents a variety of exciting opportunities for language learners.
There are a host of podcasts specifically on the subject of how to learn a new language - some in general, and others specific to the language that you wish to learn. There are also some fascinating YouTube channels specifically designed to introduce new speakers of a language to the cultural nuances of that language. You can find podcasters and YouTubers who are passionate about their language and keen to pass on as much valuable knowledge as possible in some really entertaining ways.
Technology is continually progressing. Each year that passes brings with it not just new gadgets accessible to most of the populace, but also whole new ways in which we integrate those into our lives. As such, those of us wanting to connect more deeply with more cultures by learning new languages will always be able to find new and exciting ways to upskill.
The best part about living in this time is just how connected it has made each of us to our fellow humans. By using this as an opportunity to learn and teach others how to communicate in our language, we are broadening our own horizons and helping to make our world a better place.
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