5 Tips for Learning a Second Language

When I arrived in the United States in my early 20's, I could barely understand people. A year after that I could communicate with friends, and even read in English.

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Today, I am working on my Ph. D. from a prestigious university. I am not going to tell you that it was easy. It took a lot of work and effort. It took hours of studying, practicing and stumbling through many conversations to learn a second language. How did I do it? Here are some tips on learning a foreign language.

1. Do not invest on get-fluent-fast programs. Robert DeKeyser, a professor of second language acquisition at the University of Maryland stated that, “there is no method that can get you fluent in a few months.” You have to put in some effort to learn it.

2. Conversation, conversation, conversation, there is no way around it. You have to converse with natives. Sometimes, it takes hours of conversations with the use of a dictionary. A bilingual dictionary will help you with words and phonemes (sound of words in a specified language).

3. Learn a lot of vocabulary. Richard Simcott revealed that when learning a second language you should learn plenty of vocabulary. By doing this you can successfully describe anything you need. Mark Manson recommends to start with a list of the 100 common words such as bathroom, food, etc., and to make sentences with them. Practice this until you feel comfortable.

Let's be honest, in the beginning you going to say a lot of unintelligent things. Do not worry, it is common. You must accept it.

4. Use audio and online courses for words and basic grammar. This should be done for reference only. These sites are good for getting you from no knowledge of the foreign language to be able to speak basic sentences and phrases within a few days time. Some of the sites that I have used are: http://www.studyspanish.com/, http://www.123teachme.com/, http://www.forvo.com/, http://lang-8.com/, https://rhinospike.com/, and https://www.duolingo.com/. Remember, these sites are good to teach the most fundamental vocabulary.

TV shows, movies, newspapers and magazines are a good supplementation. TV shows and movies help me with pronunciation. Newspapers and magazines help me with increasing my vocabulary.

5. Embrace your mistake and have fun! You have to find a way to make it fun. Go to events where you can practice. Talk to people about fun topics, for example, movies, sports. Remember, learning a foreign language is not easy. You have to force yourself to speak and communicate with others. It won't be easy; however, you can make it fun.

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