When we were young and in school, having to take a second language class felt like an unwanted obligation. But as we grew older, many of us actually chose to bring such daunting task upon ourselves. It’s quite common to hear grownups say, ‘I wish I had known better when I was little.’ While many believe that young children are better language learners than adults, that does not mean it is a proven case; age has nothing to do with it at all! In fact it has everything to do with having the right attitude and approach.
So let’s look at what really matters when it comes to how to best learn a language.
We at Vamos Spanish Academy are not scientists, but we have worked with thousands of students, ranging from age 5 to over 65, with varying cultural and language backgrounds. We have witnessed over and over again that one of the key ingredients for how to best learn a language is open-mindedness. We believe that learning foreign languages is not just a matter of acquiring different communication skills. It’s also the ability to accept another way of thinking. Learning a second language will allow you to widen your horizons, as well as have your perspectives challenged once in a while. Once you have the willingness to be open to new ideas, then you are less likely to overthink them and will be truly ready to welcome new sounds, new patterns, and new concepts.
As with obtaining any new skill, before you can exercise it comfortably and correctly, it requires a lot of practice. While repeating the same act diligently until perfection is reached is an obvious thing to do, the main difference, however, lies in how you practice it. This leads us to the next most important attitude in learning any language: It is OK to make mistakes. Like many things in life, no one expects you to be able to run before you can walk. Stumbling along the way is just part of a natural process. This might sound obvious, but for many it is a lot easier said than done. We have treated many cases where ‘feeling not able to say something perfectly’ became such a hurdle that it actually paralyzed the student from trying at all. At Vamos Spanish Academy, providing an encouraging and controlled classroom environment where we can slowly build the confidence in our students is as important a focus for us as offering high quality instructional materials and teaching directions.
Last but not least, another key element of language learning success is to set realistic goals. We cannot emphasize more that language takes time to be absorbed and processed properly. Only then, with time and adequate practice, you’ll be able to apply it at will. How fast one can become fluent at a language depends on many factors, both internally and externally, and no one is alike. There isn’t a perfect method, because everyone learns differently: some may learn best “inside out” (details first, every single rule of grammar, vocabulary and structure), while others may prefer “outside in” (concepts first, then deconstructing them into smaller parts). Some may have visual photographic memories, and others will need to hear the word first, and so on. No matter which styles work best for you, setting up realistic goals in increments will naturally provide a good framework for an effective study plan which will give you the right momentum to keep moving forward. This will minimize the chance of getting discouraged or burned out too early in the process.
For many new language learners, they spend most of their time seeking out the best language program/book/course and aren’t aware that preparing themselves mentally is just as crucial in finding success in picking up a new language. Fine-tuning the approach and attitude will put your mind on the right track for a journey that requires commitment and dedication, but also offers a lot of joy and is extremely rewarding. No matter which methods you choose to pursue to learn a language—self-study with online resources, classes at a language school, or a month’s long language immersion course at a foreign country—prepare yourself with this advice and you will be well on your way to seeing positive results in your language learning endeavor.
Start learning a new language today and explore the world. Contact us at Vamos Spanish Academy for your Study Abroad Spanish language immersion experience at Buenos Aires, Argentina.