Learning Another Language

By Published On: April 7th, 2016

There appears to be a growing interest in studying another language these days. I am often asked about learning Spanish and English, and the issue and advantages of learning them since I work at an ESL school. While languages don’t come easy for me, I’ve felt a need to understand more than my own language. Here I will briefly (OK, so maybe not so briefly) answer some of the most popular questions I’m asked. I really hope this short article may also be of interest to these studying other languages beside Spanish and English. My ideas will be of specific interest to people who desire to understand other languages, and want to remove their accent instead of sounding like a foreigner.

Can I understand another language? Certainly there are gains from studying another language, although it’s not a simple job. My oldest son told me the following tale he heard once, “A scrawny cat stood for hrs waiting for the mouse he had been watching to leave his hole so that he could grab him. He wasn’t having very much success. A fat cat walked by, inquired about the issue, and offered to display the proper method to the skinny cat. The very first thing he did was he had the skinny cat go where he couldn’t be viewed and did this himself as well. Next, he barked, “Woof, woof.” The mouse, believing a canine had frightened the cat away, ventured out just to be grabbed and eaten by the fat cat. “You see,” described the fat cat, “it pays to be bilingual.”

An initial step in learning a new language would be to decide on what we desire to get out of learning that language. Is it to travel? To study a novel in another language? Or to speak with individuals we work with? Then we should concentrate on listening first, if our curiosity is to speak with the others.  When I was a young man a buddy of mine gave some great advice to me as I tried to learn Morse Code. “Do not try to understand how to deliver the Morse Code,” he explained. “First, learn how to hear, so if you have discovered how to copy the messages down nicely, it’ll take less than a day to learn how to deliver it.” My friend was right. Every language seems different and utilizes different things. Various muscles are applied. The mouth, cheeks, nose, and tongue, along with proper breathing, might be joined in limitless ways. Language changes from pronouncing the letter “ee” in Spanish, rolling the tongue to create an “erre” sound, or the different clicking sounds in the African Khoisan languages. English speakers ignore their power to say “sheep” and never have it sound like “boat.” We shall speak more about acquiring these skills, below.

How hard is it to understand another language? For many individuals learning another language requires much dedication and is very hard. My spouse, for instance, took years of Spanish in Faculty and High School, and would refuse to talk in that language with me (Ok, so I laughed once). Only after her fourth visit to South America did she venture on her own. The incentive was provided by shopping. However when I was with her, she reverted back to making me be her interpreter.

Establishing a target of learning fundamental working vocabulary and polite expressions isn’t so difficult, and it may actually be something you enjoy. A friend recently remarked, “I have had more enthusiasm about studying Spanish than nearly anything I have done for some time.”

I would recommend beginning with an audio CD program or taking a short intro class. After mastering the shorter programs, more complicated types might be used. Another characteristic to consider if you’re using audio programs is that they tend to give the term or expression at least twice in Spanish and once in English (or whatever language you are learning). The voice in the target language must be that of the native speaker.

In the beginning, it is possible to get disheartened. Despite that, if you stick with it in a couple weeks you’ll find that the mind starts to connect words in one language with the word from the new language. Quickly you may have desires to make use of your restricted vocabulary. Or, a foreign term might enter into your thoughts together with what it means.

Its worth it to learn another language. Try it out for yourself today. You’ll be glad you did.

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