Matthew Youlden speaks 9 languages – here are his learning tips
I saw this list in an advertisement for Babbel courses. I think these language learning tips are really useful (edited by me):
- KNOW WHY YOU ARE DOING IT
Have a clear reason. This will keep you motivated.
- DIVE IN
Matthew recommends the 360° approach: it’s really important to practise your new language every single day.
- FIND A PARTNER
Having any kind of partner will push both of you to always try just a little bit harder and stay learning.
- KEEP IT RELEVANT
If you make conversation a goal from the beginning, you are less likely to get lost in books. Talking to people will keep the learning process relevant to you:
- HAVE FUN WITH IT
Using your new language in any way is a creative act. Make a radio play with a friend, draw a comic strip, write a poem, or simply talk to someone.
- ACT LIKE A CHILD
The key to learning as quickly as a child may be to simply take on certain childlike attitudes: for instance, lack of self-consciousness, a desire to play in the language and willingness to make mistakes.
- LEAVE YOUR COMFORT ZONE
Willingness to make mistakes means being ready to put yourself in potentially embarrassing situations. This can be scary, but it’s the only way to develop and improve. The more often you do this, the bigger your comfort zone becomes and the more at ease you can be in new situations:
“… I think the most important thing is to always develop this feel. Every native speaker has a feel for his or her own language, and that’s basically what makes a native-speaker – whether you can make the language your own.”
You must learn to look before you can draw. In the same way, you must learn to listen before you can speak. Every language sounds strange the first time you hear it, but the more you expose yourself to it the more familiar it becomes, and the easier it is to speak it properly.
- WATCH PEOPLE TALK
If you can’t watch and imitate a native-speaker in person, watching foreign-language films and TV is a good substitute.
- TALK TO YOURSELF
When you have no one else to speak to, there’s nothing wrong with talking to yourself:
“It might sound really weird, but actually speaking to yourself in a language is a great way to practice if you’re not able to use it all the time.”
(Bonus tip) RELAX!
You are not going to annoy people by speaking their language poorly. If you say “I’m learning and I’d like to practice…” most people will be patient and encouraging.
BUT WHAT’S THE POINT?
We’ve gone into HOW to start learning a language, but are you still on the fence about WHY to learn? Matthew has one last point to make:
“I think each language has a certain way of seeing the world. The monolingual lifestyle, for me, is the saddest, the loneliest, the most boring way of seeing the world. There are so many advantages of learning a language; I really can’t think of any reason not to.”
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