Language Learning is not as Difficult as You Think!

onJuly 6, 2015

inTranslation Tips

Language LearningLook around the world and you will find people who seem to pick up languages really easily and there are those who don’t. There are big differences between the citizens of some nations who are multilingual and those who seem to find it “difficult” to learn any language at all, except their own of course!

Take the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands, as an example. Whenever an English speaking person encounters a Swede, a Dane, a Norwegian a Finn or a person from Holland, they are generally surprised to learn that these nationals often speak very good English – as well as probably at least one other language (German being the most popular) in addition to their own. The opposite is generally true for native English speakers, whether they hail from Britain, Canada (with the exception of French speaking Canada), the US, Australia and New Zealand. These nationals are notoriously poor at speaking other languages.

There are a number of important reasons for this and probably the most important is motivation. Anyone who comes from a nation whose language is confined to the borders of that nation yet has strong international ties immediately understands the importance of learning English or any other language that is in widespread use. Native English language speakers have less reason to learn another language as it is much more widespread.

Many English speakers think it is just too hard to bother learning another language, unless they set their minds on getting a job with a marketing translation services provider. Think how everyone learns to speak their own native language as they grow up. Babies don’t need to go to school to start speaking the same language as their family – it’s again a matter of motivation. Babies want to be understood and there is a limit to saying “ga ga” for too long! Of course, research confirms what many would suspect and that is that the younger you learn a new language the easier it is, but that doesn’t preclude learning another language later in life.

Apart from motivation, i.e. having a strong reason for learning a language, three important factors are reading, listening and immersion.

The more you attempt to read another language, the more likely you are to expand your vocabulary. Generally, understanding written text is easier than understanding someone speak, especially if that person is speaking idiomatically, or has a strong regional dialect or simply speaks too quickly.

It would be almost impossible to learn another language unless you listen carefully to people speaking, preferably speaking to you in that language. It is only when listening to the spoken word that you pick up on the differences in word order and pronunciation which are hard to learn from a book.

Finally, immersing yourself in the place where the language you wish to learn is spoken is far more valuable than trying to learn it at home. For a start, you will be motivated to understand everything that is written and spoken around you and make yourself understood. You will inevitably learn faster if you spend time communicating with people in that language and not isolating yourself with those who speak the same language as you, even if it seems more comfortable.

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