Language Learning Tips that DO NOT Work

There are a lot of blogs out there instructing you on how to best learn, speak and understand a language. I’m here to tell you that a lot of these blogs are wrong!

Below are a few language learning myths that are floating around out there. For each one, I explain why these tips or simply myths that are not conducive to language fluency.

“Focus on literal translation.”

We often think that in order to learn something completely, we have to focus on 100% accuracy. This makes sense in subjects like math where one number off can mean the difference between right and wrong. This isn’t true in language.

Literal translations are often jagged and don’t translate well. Fluency is about understanding what the context of the words mean, not their literal translation.

“Go at your own pace.”

It’s often said that learning is something we shouldn’t force on ourselves — that we should go at our own pace for our own benefit. Again, this doesn’t apply to learning languages.

When you go at your own pace, you run the risk of losing the language and eventually forgetting it entirely. You HAVE to be able to commit to daily learning time and immersive language methods.

“Language technicality is the most important part.”

In line with literal translations, language technicality isn’t nearly as important as language fluency. While it’s good to know the technical aspects of a language, they don’t mean much if you can’t converse fluidly. Many language students can rattle off what Spanish words mean and great French phrases, but this is about rote memorization — not actual conversational understanding.

“Stick to long-term goals.”

I often hear people say “I plan to learn Russian by the end of the year!” or some other variant with a different language. This isn’t how learning a language works. It’s important that you try your best, but it’s not conducive to education to stick to rigid goals.

Work every day and check where your fluency is at in regular intervals. Sometimes it takes longer than a year. And even if you FEEL fluent at the end of a year, that doesn’t mean you need to stop learning. Languages can be lost if you don’t use them: “Use it or lose it!”

“Focus on your weak spots.”

This tip may be great in other areas of learning, but it does not make sense in the context of linguistics. If you want to REALLY learn a language, you can’t treat it like you’re trying to get a good grade on an exam. If you focus too heavily on your weaker areas, you run the risk of ignoring other areas, leading to a collapse in fluency.

“You have to live and breathe the language!”

Is immersion good for learning languages? Of course. Do you have to become obsessed and run yourself ragged in order to become fluent? No.

Just like any other hobby, going overboard means you’re more likely to give up. You have to find the right balance between committing to daily memorization and exercises while also not pushing so yourself to the limit. Learning a language fast also usually means you have a good ability for memorization, NOT for actual fluency.

These are only a few of the tips I’ve found that I don’t agree with. Are there any language learning tips that you’ve found which are totally bogus?

Fun Ways to Brush Up On Language Fluency

refresh your language fluencyNothing is sadder than when you realize that a language you used to be fluent in is slowly fading from your brain. This happens a lot, especially to people who know several languages. What’s that old phrase? “Use it or lose it?” It must be time to refresh your language fluency!

If you aren’t actively brushing up on your language skills, you’re likely to lose some fluency as time passes. You may be inspired or pressured to refresh your skills for business or travel reasons.

You can get your fluency back, though, so don’t worry. There are many fun ways to do this without cracking open a textbook or buying an expensive plane ticket for an immersion experience.

Media Binging

Can’t find someone to have a conversation with in your language of choice? Don’t worry. Simply hop onto Netflix and find some characters who will have the conversations for you.

One of the best ways to refresh your language fluency is to listen to other people speaking in that language. The Internet has made consuming foreign media very accessible. Watch your favorite Netflix film or show in a language you want to freshen up on — subtitles optional — and pay attention to the language. You’ll feel it coming back to you in no time.

Music

Similar to television and TV shows, music can also help you get back into the language groove — literally. Music is also a lot more accessible than television. Platforms like YouTube and Spotify act as hosts for global artists. You can use these services for free or pay small fees in order to gain access to unlimited music.

How does this help your language bank? In the same way that watching media helps you to follow an interaction within a language. That is, music can refresh you on your rhythmic fluency. Listen to the pattern of the language. Listen also to the cadence with which it’s spoken while you try and understand the words.

YouTube Tutorials

Here’s a fun way to refresh your language fluency: take an action word you know in the language you want to brush up on (e.g. cooking, climbing, building, singing, etc.). Search the action word and “tutorial” in YouTube and choose a few videos to watch. For an extra challenge, do not watch the visual explanation the second time around. How much of the tutorial can you understand now?!

You can jumpstart your brain’s ability to recognize words and phrases by doing this since the video provides you with a visual association. This exercise is also great for those just learning languages. It helps anyone to better correlate words with their meaning.

App Games

Finally, apps are always a quick and easy way to refresh your language fluency. They are especially great when it comes to simple vocabulary and quick language reminders. Download something like Duolingo and select your language. Go through the stages as you can and you’ll feel your vocabulary come rushing back to you.

Don’t be too alarmed if you feel like your language skills are slipping — it happens to even the most talented linguist. Just do whatever it takes to get your language fluency back on track!

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5 Tips to Promote your Multilingual Website in Social Media

Social media has really shrunk the world. What’s more, social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are available in multiple languages, further connecting our global community. This also means that it’s worth it to promote your translation company website in social media.

Global businesses haven’t truly given in to globalization if they don’t have content available on their website in multiple languages. This is where a translation company comes in: they can take a business with global dreams and make them a reality. Other clients are on social media with more specific translation needs, like translating a brochure into multiple languages for non-English speaking clients.

These clients are waiting for translation companies on social media — all it takes to reach them is a little promotion.

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The Most Famous Multilingual People in History

History is full of figures who knew more than one language. Let’s take a look at some famous historical polyglots.

The Most Famous Multilingual People in HistoryElizabeth I (September 7, 1533 – March 24, 1603)

Being royalty or a politician means getting a lot of benefit from knowing multiple languages. Someone in a position of power needs to be able to communicate fluently with many different officials and citizens. Now people in power have translation tools that can allow them to get by, but in the olden days? You had to fully rely on language proficiency to communicate. Maybe that’s why Elizabeth I (pictured above) knew seven different languages, English, Flemish, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Greek and French.

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Acronyms and Common Translation Industry Terms That May Puzzle You

translation-acronymsYou might think that an industry focused on translation to ensure effective communication would avoid using puzzling acronyms, abbreviations, terms and jargon. Nevertheless, the fact is that when you discuss translation industry terms, you’ll encounter all of these — and it can be difficult to figure out what the latest bit of alphabet soup and word salad refers to. This guide for those of you who are not familiar with the jargon used in the translation industry should help you understand them a little better.

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Global B2B Marketing: Top 3 Reasons Why Translation is Essential

As companies continually strive to expand into international markets, B2B marketing strategies also need to catch up and adapt. To achieve global success, organizations need to apply an approach that takes into account how different cultures will receive the marketing messages, and translation becomes a critical tool in its implementation.

Here are the top 3 reasons why translation is essential in any global B2B marketing campaign.

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