Tips for learning a foreign language

At the start of a new year, many people would like to make changes that can lead to personal growth and future success. One of the skills that can open more doors, and even help create personal satisfaction, is learning a new language.

There are many reasons to learn a new language. Doing so can help people land a new job or speak fluently on an overseas vacation. Knowing more than one language can have various cognitive benefits as well. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages states speaking more than one language can lead to improved memory and problem-solving skills, and may enhance one’s ability to concentrate. Bilingual or multilingual people also may stave off mental aging.

Children take to foreign languages quickly and readily, but people of all ages can learn a foreign language.

· Set learning goals. Focus on specific, measurable outcomes. This can include learning a set number of words in a certain period of time to reduce feelings of being overwhelmed by the vast task of learning a new language.

· Invest the time. Set aside consistent time each day to devote to learning a new language. Neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to form and reorganize connections, doesn’t come as easily for adults as it does for children. Therefore, practice is necessary for adults to learn new skills.

· Use the correct learning style. Some people are visual learners and others auditory. Finding out one’s learning style can make the process go smoothly.

· Tie learning to culture. Having a vested interest in the culture of the language a person is trying to learn can facilitate the process and make it more interesting.

· There’s no “easy” language. Keep in mind that all languages have their challenges, and one is not easier to learn than another, say linguists. Accepting challenges and sticking with the process can help avid learners along.

Learning a new language can open doors and lead to both professional and personal growth