New Languages

College is a great opportunity to learn a new language. Many majors require a few semesters of foreign language. Also, a language minor looks great with any major. Knowing more than one language opens doors all over the world. You could teach English in a far-away foreign land, and travel with ease. Also knowing a language like Spanish, which is prevalent in many areas in this country, can help land you a job working with a more diverse group of people.

You’ve probably heard a thousand times that it’s much easier to learn a new language during childhood. That’s true, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to learn languages now. It will only get harder throughout life to learn your second language. And once you have a second language, the third and any subsequent languages you learn will be easier.

The second language is the hardest to learn because it forces you to think about speech writing in a different way. A third language is typically a bit easier to pick up because you’ve already gone through the process of rethinking language. You know what clues to look for in your verb conjugations and have probably mastered a few memorization techniques. In other words, you already know how to learn a language, so you just need to apply those ideas to this new set of rules and vocabulary.

The only real way to master a new language is to dedicate a lot of time to practicing. Do this from the start, and you’ll thank yourself in the end. A good foundation on certain aspects of a language is essential to continued learning. It’s good to look for spelling patterns early on. Some combinations of vowels and consonant clusters will be much more common than others. Spelling is difficult because you have to learn how the language sounds in order to become a natural speller. Learning common clusters is like a short cut to knowing the common sounds.

Memorization is an important and sometimes tedious part of a beginning vocabulary. Flash cards and online flash card programs are great for initially building a working vocabulary. However, later in your language learning process, you have to get used to reading more than drilling. Reading is really better for memorization because it puts the words in a real context. Long-term memory needs the context of stories and ideas for new words to stick.

It will be frustrating at times, but learning a new language is worth the effort. In an increasingly global world, international communication is a big part of the workforce and personal lives. To keep up with the world, we need to be a part of the world.

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