What To Expect When Learning A New Language

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If learning a new language was as easy as snapping your fingers, everyone would be multilingual.   While acquiring a new language requires persistence and effort, it is a highly rewarding experience and a goal that any committed person can achieve.   

 

In this article, you will gain an understanding of what to expect when learning a new language, as well as, some tips from someone who has been through the process.

 

A Lot Like Losing Weight

Unless you’re going the extreme weight-loss surgery route, losing weight is a slow and steady process that requires time, patience, and discipline.

The same is true for learning a new language.

If you you need to shed some weight, a good nutritionist will tell you that 1 – 2 lbs. of weight loss per week is a healthy reasonable goal.  So, it’s understandable that the process of losing weight takes a longterm commitment.   

Why is it then that if your goal is to learn Italian, for example, you expect to be fluent by the time you go on that trip to Italy you’ve been dreaming about – which you leave for in 2 months?!

The Multi-Prong Approach

If you’re trying to lose those 100 lbs, but all you do is walk 30 minutes a day, you’ve certainly started your weight-loss journey, but for faster results, you’re going to want to use a more aggressive approach.

 

The same is true for learning a new language.

 

Let’s say you spend 30 minutes a day on a language learning app.  While that is a fantastic start, it’s just one tool of many that are available to you.

 

If you don’t have the luxury of living in a country where your new language is spoken, there are many ways to create your own immersive experience.

 

Our brains are very good at prioritizing what’s most important.   So, if you bombard your brain with films, books, YouTube videos, practice speaking with native speakers, and use a language-learning program in your new target language you’re going to experience a much more rapid acquisition of the language

 

The More You Enjoy The Process - The Better

If you are miserable every time you visit the gym and don’t enjoy the exercises you’re doing or if you are preparing healthy meals but they taste awful you need to make some adjustments.   Anything that you’re doing that makes you miserable is not sustainable.

 

The same is true for language learning.

 

You must enjoy the process in order to stick with it long enough to get to a place of fluency.   

 

Set Realistic Expectations For Yourself

Did you know that, according to the US State Dept, there are 5 levels of languages in the world?   These levels are determined by how much time and the estimated level of difficulty it would be for a native English speaker to learn any given language.

You may consider starting with a language that’s a bit easier if you’ve never embarked on a language learning journey before.   But if your dream language happens to be a Level 5 language, don’t let anyone discourage you!  

Here is a breakdown of the 5 Levels of languages:

Level 1: languages require approx 600 hours to acquire

(Examples: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish)

Level 2: languages require approx 750 hours to acquire

(Examples: German)

Level 3: languages require approx 900 hours to acquire

(Examples: Malaysian, Indonesian, Swahili)

Level 4: languages require approx 1100 hours to acquire

(Examples: Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Russian, Thai, Turkish, Croatian, Vietnamese, Zulu)

Level 5: languages require approx 2200 hours to acquire

(Examples: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic)

There is a revolutionary approach to learning languages called the “Natural Approach” and Professor Jeff Brown of Orange Coast College of California who speaks 7 languages has a wonderful video you should check out.   

The video is called How To Acquire Any Language – Not Learn It!

Recap

  • Remember that slow and steady wins the race in life – and in languages!
  • Just like losing weight takes a consistent multi-prong approach, languages are also acquired best through a combination of approaches.
  • Make the process as enjoyable as possible.   The more you enjoy the process the easier it will be to master your language.
  • Understand the level of the language you are wanting to acquire and keep your expectations realistic accordingly.
  • Consider Jeff Brown’s “Natural Approach” to acquiring language.  Best of luck on your journey to a multi-lingual life!

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Author Info:

Claudia Bovati

Claudia Bovati

Claudia is a professionally trained chef who lives with her husband in Bologna, Italy. Her family heritage is Spanish & Italian - she is passionate about both cultures and loves to cook cuisine from both Spain and Italy. She spent 9 years working as a chef in Barcelona before moving to back to Italy. She has degrees in marketing and international communications. In 2020, she became a contributing writer for “All Roads Lead to Italy”.

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