Learning a new Language

How to learn any language fast.

Learning a new language is hard, especially as an adult. But the truth is anyone can do it if you’re motivated enough. All it takes is some effort.Growing up in India, I was lucky to have people speaking different languages around me. As a result, I can speak 4 languages fluently, and I understand 6. I will soon add Swedish to the list.

I admit the first year I barely made any progress. It was a combination of laziness and the fact that Swedes are really good at English. So I hung on to the comfort of the known. I did clear my A1 exam but I was nowhere close to having a conversation in Swedish. And then the laziness kicked in and I gave up.Frankly, after a year of living here, i was kind of embarrassed that i couldn’t speak the language yet as i pride myself in being a really fast learner.

Learning a new language is hard and uncomfortable. So be ready to be frustrated and sometimes embarrassed. Well, if it was easy everyone would do it right? There are many ways to learn.You can go to daily classes or use apps like Duolingo. Duolingo is great but in my opinion, it’s not enough and most people end up quitting in a week if you’re like me. Two weeks if you’re really persistent.

Here are some ways to learn a new language in record time:

  1. Listen to Native Speakers: This is an obvious one but a fast way to learn new words, pronounce them correctly and learn through context. The more you listen, the more you learn. Later, when you come across the same word in your book, you ll know how to pronounce.And remember it easily.
  2. Sign Up for newsletters: Newsletters and promotion emails in a foreign language is a good way to learn. First, try to read them and understand through context. You ll learn words and understand what they mean. Then translate them and reread the email. If you use Gmail you can easily translate it and learn the meaning. If you don’t use Gmail. WHY?! Reading even promo emails lets you practice and learn new words every day.
  3. Learning by doing: When you’re cooking a meal, just think of the items and ingredients and what they are called in the other language. Same goes for any other items in your room. Do this while you grocery shop. You’ll find yourself actively seeking new words. Learning the words by associating it with objects will ensure you never forget them.
  4. Watch lots of Movies: Watching movies in a foreign language is great to speed up your learning process. Ensure the subtitle is also in that language. This way you learn the pronunciation. Learn through context and when you don’t understand, pause and google the words. Tip: Watch comedies. You won’t get bored. It will also broaden your horizon.
  5. Switch on subtitles: This one kills two birds with one stone. Entertainment and learning. Turn on subtitles for your regular programs to the language you’re trying to learn. Now even when you’re relaxing and watching your favorite show, you’re learning new words and importantly, the sentence structure and how the dialogue would be said in the other language. Thank you Netflix.
  6. Switch the language in your head: You know that never-ending conversation you have with in your head with yourself? Switch your brains default language. It’s really really hard. But you’ll think of new things you want to say and google how to say it. This gets imprinted in your brain. You’ll learn sentences that you regularly think of, thus speeding up your learning process.
  7. Engage with people: Especially those who don’t speak the same language as you. You’ll be forced to learn how to say something and actually say it out loud which is really important.
  8. Change the language in your computer or phone: This tip will drive you crazy. But it’ll make you learn a lot of important words in the context of work that you don’t read in books initially. Helps if you’re in University or if you’re working in a different country. Switching just your Microsoft word language can help you learn. Words like edit, copy, cut, paste, send, attach. This will overwhelm you initially but you’ll learn quickly cos your brain already knows what the option does from its position in the menubar because you have used it so much.Now you’ll know the word for that function in a new language. It’s like your brain is the dictionary and you’re translating words through memory that you didn’t know existed. Tip:Always switch back after 2 days. Then repeat.
  9. Learn by writing: We all know that one person who speaks well but a 5-year-old can write better than them. There’s a big difference between conversational fluency and written fluency. Try to write at least a paragraph a week. About anything. This helps you learn the right spellings, sentence structure, and grammar. Also writing is a great way to enhance memory.
  10. SAY IT OUT LOUD: This is important. So many people read, listen and say sentences in their head and think they can speak in another language. I’m guilty of this. I could have an entire conversation in Swedish in my head, but the moment I opened my mouth, I would sound like an old drunkard after 2 bottles of whiskey. Your mouth is a bitch and it will betray you. Unless you practice speaking. Say the sentences out loud. It’s important you hear yourself say the words.This also gives you confidence to speak to a native speaker.

The fastest way to learn any new language is by fully immersing yourself in it.The more you immerse yourself, the faster you’ll learn. If you hit a wall and get frustrated, push on. It’ll be worth the effort.

Lycka till! (Good luck!)

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