Learning a new language offers a great number of benefits. For one thing, it exposes you to different cultures. In this age of globalization thanks to rapid technological advancements, we are all much more likely to interact with those from other countries and cultures. Social media, for instance, has connected the world, making it possible to make friends from anywhere around the globe. In the professional sphere, the world has become one huge talent pool for employers. You can now land an employer from across the globe if you are looking for a telecommuting opportunity. While technology allows you to work remotely with ease if you want to build meaningful connections with your colleagues and employers, learning to understand their culture is the only way.
The many benefits of learning a new language
Having another language on your resume makes you more attractive to employers across different fields. Companies serving multinational consumers or multilingual call center services providers are a few examples of organizations that look for multilingual individuals.
International travel has been restricted this year, but, what better way is there to prepare yourself for future trips abroad than by learning a new language? Having knowledge of a country’s language gives you a much deeper understanding of the culture and enriches your travel experiences.
Why pick up a language during a global pandemic?
We are being advised to stay productive during quarantine and lockdown orders, to make the most of our free time and to help keep our spirits up. Learning a new a language, or any other skill for that matter, releases endorphins, the happy hormone, and gives us a sense of achievement. This can help us look after our mental and emotional health in these difficult times.
If you have been putting off learning a new language due to lack of time, NOW is the moment. Here are some tips for language learning while confined at home:
1. Get an online tutor
For many people, the best way to learn a new language is to have an in-person session with a tutor or a native speaker. This is because you get to observe little things such as tongue placement when pronouncing words. Unfortunately, quarantine has forced the closure of many foreign language learning centers and, even if they are open some students don’t feel comfortable attending in-person class.
Some organizations such as the International Center for Language Studies have taken their classes online. You can subscribe to their virtual classes and connect with them via video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Skype. Alternatively, why not find an online tutor or native speaker and get practicing with them? Having class from the comfort of your own home definitely has its benefits.
2. Foreign language learning apps
Apps present a cheaper way of learning a new language. Most of them are free, but you can upgrade for a small fee. Apps teach you the basics, that is basic grammar and vocabulary, which makes them perfect for beginners. Some apps such as Duolingo combine learning with gamification, making it fun to learn new languages. You get to take up tests and can practice pronunciation by speaking through your phone’s microphone. Other apps such as LingualLift have tutors who offer guidelines.
The only downside of learning through apps is that you are interacting with a static system. You can get the illusion that you have learned a lot, only to be disappointed when you try to apply what you have learned. It is important that you approach these apps with realistic expectations. To get the best results, combine language learning apps with the other strategies on this list.
3. Consume foreign content
During this prolonged period at home, entertainment is one of the things that is keeping most of us sane. Why not use this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone – be entertained whilst learning a new language.
Foreign music, films, and TV series among other entertainment content provide a good way to listen and observe a native speak the language. Thankfully, technology has made it easier to access foreign content through streaming services and other avenues.
4. Read foreign publications
As well as improving your listening and speaking skills, it is also important to focus on your reading. Reading in a new language is one of the best ways to pick up new vocabulary in a real-life context.
A good way to do this is by reading foreign publications online, particularly as reading a book can be intimidating for beginners. La Repubblica from Italy and Le Monde from France are a few good suggestions for those learning Italian or French. You can start with simple subjects and shorter pieces and then continue advancing gradually. It makes sense to say that before you can confidently speak a new language, you have to have the content inside your head first, therefore reading is the perfect starting point for those wanting to learn a new language.
5. Change your phone’s language setting
With so much time on our hands, quarantine has more than doubled the time most of us spend on our phones. Why not use this to your advantage to practice a few words in a new language. Change the language settings on your phone to the one that you are learning. The words tend to stick to the brain more if you see and read them frequently, and it will be a reminder of your language learning aims.
Learning a new language can be overwhelming and challenging, but that is not to say that it can’t be done. All it needs is a bit of dedication. Commit to making a little progress each day, be consistent, and have fun!
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