Bienvenidas and welcome to today’s post, we’ll be looking at ways to dramatically speed up the learning process for any language, why languages are so intriguing, some personal tips and my experience with learning Spanish, let’s get started.
1- Identify your language bias
I’ve always had a love for languages, but even among those, I’ve always felt a very specific bias towards the Spanish than any other ethnicity, and to be honest, I think we all an ethnic bias if we look deep enough.
One thing I love about them is that they embody a certain type of vibrancy I don’t often pick up on in other cultures, the same way other cultures embody a certain type or a certain context of vibrancy that the Spaniards don’t.
Its not something that can be easily described with words, but in my experience, this is exactly what forms bonds between two people who speak a certain language, native or foreign.
Whether you call it uniqueness or vibes or ethic value or even “accent”. They all helps others who are not a native to an ethnicity subtly and subconsciously acquire a glimpse into their lifestyle and ethnic qualities.
2- Be open to cultural subtleties
I would say you can catch a glimpse of this liveliness in their singing and dancing amongst other things, what I like to do is to sorta get a collection of some popular Spanish themed songs and listen to them on repeat.
A bit unorthodox but it does help me further immerse myself in their culture and for those of you looking to learn a new language, you’ll find this next tip to be life hack in the process of learning a language’s vocabulary and speeding up the mastery process:
In addition to listen to Spanish songs, I look up the lyrics to these songs and then I lip sync the lyrics while watching the music videos or listening to the songs, I do this to improve my fluency and pronunciation of the words in that language as different songs relates to different things like love, family, money, friendship, partying and what not.
3- Use Duolingo, period
But I don’t stop there, I mentioned earlier that I’m also learning Spanish from the world’s best language learning app, duolingo. Now this aside, I use Google translate to well- translate the lyrics from the songs I listen to, so now I have a whole new language learning style.
I practice pronouncing words from the lyrics and translate to know what I’m actually singing. This combined with my learning sessions from duolingo makes for a pretty powerful mix.
This variety also implies I’m learning and mastering the usage of a set of words and their applications in the real world.
4- Master a few words initially
Spanish, like any other language is broad and their are many subtle ways of saying the same thing, I was once texting this Mexican lady and she asked where I was from, now to me that translated to “de donde eres”, but she didn’t use those exact words so I had no clue what she was talking about until I had her translate for me.
The learning process takes quite a while so don’t beat yourself up for unknowingly saying something you didn’t mean.
It’s also worth noting that reading books and articles on the language of study can really help too. Personally speaking, yo placer de mucho leer libros.
Another thing I really love about duolingo is its approach to making learning fun and interactive, they have these little contest called leagues.
In every league there’s an elimination round, if you survive an elimination round, you get to advance to the next league with fewer participants and this goes on until there’s nobody else worth eliminating, making it more interesting and challenging for people learning a particular language on the app.
You see, once you master a few words initially from the language you’re wanting to learn, you can then branch out by putting them to real life applications like composing sentences with such words in it.
It also helps to ask yourself questions like:
• What other words are closely related to this word?
• What context is this word most appropriate for?
• What are the correct ways of using these words in a sentence?
• How frequently is this word used in contrast to others of similar meanings?
• Is this word’s usage more biased towards a certain gender, age range or social class?
These are the types of questions that help you perceive the depths of what you’re learning so over time you’ll come to know who uses it, when it’s used and most importantly, why that specific word is being used.
5- Be observant for linguistic patterns
For instance, in Spanish, almost all words have “Male and Female” versions of them:
• Cansado, Cansada
• Hijo, Hija
• Esposo, Esposa
• Abuelo, Abuela
• Nuevo, Nueva
Taking the time to rule out patterns like these in your desired language of study, it only helps you learn it much, much faster.
6- Take up challenges
Besides the competition leagues in Duolingo, they also have short stories depicting different scenarios in the real world and what vocabularies can be used in those unique situations, and I have to say I absolutely love those, no amount of description does justice to the actual experience, if you have the duolingo app then you definitely need to check out the stories section.
The main curriculum for any language is duolingo’s signature learning process but other resources like leagues, stories and podcasts make you more invested in the language you’re learning.
By taking up challenges like Duolingo leagues, you get a more real life experience of the learning process and besides who doesn’t love learning with others.
I would receive greetings, follows and congrats from other Duolingo users ever so often, and I reciprocate this too, so fun.
7- Get creative with learning
Online classes aren’t the only ways of learning a language quickly, by being exposed to different word usages, pronunciation variations, and speaking styles, you’re a building a foundation for your foundation in the mastery of the language.
Duolingo Podcasts are great, and I would definitely recommend them for anyone, doesn’t matter what language you’re learning or what platform you’re using to learn it.
The podcasts are adapted from real life stories narrated by the natives of the language and also features a translator who verbally translates what the native narrates to English, what’s more is that there’s a transcript that comes with every podcast so you don’t miss any word.
Another secret trick I personally came up with (at least that I know of), is with Google Translate, it’s a type of game you can play anytime and its not only efficient but very productive.
Remember my point on Google translate for music lyrics? This is a variation of that, in this case, you simply construct sentences in your desired language with no external help, hints whatsoever.
Just you, your brain and the results from Google translate. This strengths your ability to remember new words and improves mastery of the ones you’ve already learnt about, in some cases you’ll find it easier to construct sentences than in other sessions, that’s alright because learning is a process after all.
I call this language learning technique “Composing sentences”, composing in the sense of writing music, the artist doesn’t know the full lyrics yet, he makes it up over time and commits a few grammatical atrocities. But slowly and surely, his writing will become a masterpiece.
By now you’ve learnt a lot on what it takes to be fairly decent at speaking a new language. Any language is very broad so you have to acknowledge that when you’re learning it.
Its like transferring every possible conceivable information regarding a foreign culture directly into your brain until it’s no longer “foreign”, that’s not something you can do in 2 weeks or even 2 months.
But for every minute you spend learning and practicing, the closer you are to being a foreign native. And the natives speakers of the language will always welcome and appreciate your time invested in their culture and language.
If you’re like me, you love resources of all kinds and duolingo gives you just that when it comes to learning a language. Keep calm and enjoy your travels.