Are you currently learning a new language? Well, we recently asked the BuzzFeed Community for advice on the best ways to help you become closer to a fluent speaker, and their tips didn't disappoint!
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"It's an app with audio where you can learn to speak and understand different languages in 30 minutes. After that you can even have a conversation in that language. That is how I'm learning to speak Japanese. I highly recommend it."
"Duolingo makes it fun, and I hate missing a day, so it keeps me going! Then I try to converse with native Spanish speakers. it's always a fun challenge. Basically I try to gamify the whole process."
"Polyglot here — use music! Find a band/singer in the language you want to learn. If possible, try to translate it so you know what you’re singing (although it's not completely necessary) and sing it with them. It will help your mouth get used to the language and will help you build speed. Try to go for music with more lyrics than a catchy repetitive chorus. For example, Artcic Monkeys helped me loads while learning English."
"Sing a lot in your target language. Listening to the song and then just doing karaoke, it works wonders for pronunciation."
"My tip is to watch movies or TV shows that you already know well in your first language, in the language you are trying to learn. You won't be bored because you'll understand the story, and you'll be able to match words or sentences easily. Bonus points for turning on subtitles so you can learn to read also!"
"All I have to say is immersion, immersion, immersion! One of the easiest tips I have is watching TV and videos with subtitles in the language you're trying to learn. Eventually you'll notice you just naturally associate seeing the word in your target language and hearing it in your first language. You'll know more than you think you do! it doesn't take much time or effort, and it's perfect for adding into your daily routine!"
Think in the new language:
"I started changing my inner voice from my mother language (Afrikaans) to German. I talk to myself in my head, and I can even correct myself now. It really helps when it comes to having conversations in the real world."
Take a fun approach:
"Learn the funnies first: cuss words, insults, cool-sounding words, words with weird meanings, etc. It paves the way for actual conversation skills, especially if you're a full-grown woman with the same sense of humor as a 12-year-old boy."
Converse with others:
"Conversing with native speakers and fighting through the urge to switch to a more comfortable language promotes neural pathway growth. STAY in that uncomfortable space and forge on with whichever language you mean to learn. Good luck!"
You have to use it as much as possible. Don't be afraid to make mistakes! Resist the temptation to use your native language when in these situations, as well. It is super uncomfortable at first, but I promise at a certain point it will click, and it'll be much easier, even if you're not perfect. You won't progress if you don't try!
"Teaching someone what you have learned helps you retain it. When my kids were young, I taught them the weather and some phrases for conversation in French. They like the challenge, and I know they feel smart."
Lastly, a learning combo:
"As a language teacher and language learner, my top tips are:
1. Find other people to learn with you — they'll keep you motivated and give you chances to practice. That could mean going to classes together or just signing up for Duolingo the same day.
2. Incorporate it into your thoughts throughout the day. When you reach for the milk, think leite. When you hug your cat, think, Eu tenho um gato pequeno. The turning point in learning a language is when you think in that language rather than translating in your head.
3. Do things you enjoy. If you like stories, download some graded readers. If you like TV, put on the subtitles. Grammar exercises are pointless without context, and you'll lose interest quickly.
4. Take notes and review them. Could be on your phone, but paper is better for most people because the physical act of writing will activate your memory.
5. If you can, find a language exchange (in person or online) with a native speaker. They're usually free."
"Sign language (SL):
1. Learn the fingerspelling alphabet first. It's the key to learning SL. Practice until you can fingerspell a name or place name with ease. Film yourself to study and compare your attempts.
2. Try not to translate every sign to a written or spoken word in your head. Think visually. An image of an object, short silent film of an incident, physical sense of an emotion or mood (sarcasm = curled lip + raised eyebrow), etc.
3. When you watch a person signing, don't focus on their hands alone. Look at the signer as a whole: facial expression, mouth movement, body language, hand shapes, their use of space, etc. Those provide context, mood, description, grammar, etc. in one go. It may seem overwhelming, but it will get easier. Think of the signer as a film and their signing as onscreen subtitles.
4. Don't apologize profusely every time you make a mistake or struggle to communicate. Most SL users would prefer you to just move past it and focus on."
We hope these tips and tricks help you along your learning journey! If you have advice for new language learners that you didn't see mentioned, share it with us in the comments below!
Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.