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Our guest blogger is Matthew Wilcher, from Granollers Language School in Cataluña, Spain. He gives us some advice on language learning as an English native teacher living abroad.
After living in Spain and teaching English for the past year, I have seen the struggle of grasping a new language from two perspectives. I have been the teacher, slowly and patiently repeating the same basic phrases. I have also been the student, sat mute at a table, lost and frustrated at my inability to converse.
With technology making the world that much smaller and global capitalism striding its relentless path, languages are more important than ever. If you're on the same journey as me, or just beginning, I thought I would share my top 5 tips on how to progress that little bit quicker;
When learning a new language there is nothing like real-time, native speaker feedback to help your progress. One option is to learn through Skype, this has the benefit of linking you directly, with native speakers of the language. Here at our small language school in Granollers, we are currently offering Skype classes to anyone looking to learn a new language.
All my students are terrified of making mistakes. I’m terrified of making mistakes. However, it's by making mistakes that we learn the most.
Once I accidentally told my housemates that if Britain left the EU I'd need a husband (being a heterosexual male). Then there was the time I asked the waitress if she wanted a tuna pizza when trying to order. I felt really stupid both times I got it wrong.
When I first encountered new grammatical structures I was tempted to simply ignore them. However, from my 'stupid' mistakes I learned firsthand their importance. I am sure these will be the lessons I never forget.
It's a cliché but it’s true. If you really want to learn a language you are going to have to practice. Probably every day. The good news is that with handy apps like Duolingo (free) or babble (subscription), this is possible without taking up massive amounts of your time - or money.
Are you bored on your morning commute? Are you always killing 10 minutes before that next meeting? You should maximise that free time to improve your language skills. If you are in international business you can even see this as a step to improving and furthering your career.
A must-have. Use it like this: every time you struggle to find a word for something you wish you knew to write it down. When you get home translate that word. There is nothing like the relief of finally knowing that 'milk' is in fact 'leche' and because you wanted that word for so long you will probably never forget it.
On the other hand, write down any words or expressions that capture your imagination in your new language. This is especially important if you live in the country where your new language is spoken. Soon you will have a book full of all the words you needed and all the words that inspire you in your new language.
If this thing can be a person who speaks the language, all the better - you get an A** in your language learning. However, I realise that this is often unrealistic. Therefore, you should explore the other options that are open to you.
For example, I have completely fallen for the Spanish Master chef. It is totally hilarious and completely different from our version. Now I watch it every week (although still with Spanish subtitles as a guide!). It's true, maybe I only understand 50% of what is said however the formulaic nature of the show allows me to follow enough to find it really entertaining.
So these are the top five tips for accelerating your language learning! We hope you find them useful in progressing your skills. If you want more content to help speed up your language learning, check out the Granoller Language School Facebook page - We've got plenty more ideas to share with you.
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