In the era of globalization learning languages is becoming increasingly important. More and more people have to speak English for travel, work or business. Other languages will become important as well. Increasingly, people are learning Mandarin Chinese because of the business opportunities in that country. We are all coming in contact with other languages in a new way through the internet. The world is getting smaller and this makes language learning more important than ever. Also, the internet and personal devices like iPods and iPads create new ways of learning languages. With an iPod or iPhone you can be learning a language anywhere and anytime. You could be learning while waiting for the bus, commuting on the subway, sitting in a cafe, or even while shopping.
So how can we use the internet and personal devices to learn languages? And what is the best, the fastest, and the easiest way to learn a language? One way to find out is to ask polyglots. Polyglots are people who have learned to speak many languages, often between 5 and 10.
First, most polyglots agree that to learn a language it is very important to like the language and to be interested in it. If you don’t like the language and aren’t interested in it, then it will be more difficult to learn it. So it is very important to try and have a positive attitude, to be relaxed when you are learning, and to enjoy learning that language.
Second, all polyglots use certain techniques to learn a language. Some polyglots like to study grammar and memorize long lists of vocabulary. But many think that learning grammar is not that important if you don’t like it and it’s boring for you. On the other hand, it’s much more important to read and to listen a lot in the language that you want to learn, and then to repeat and read aloud.
Third, polyglots all study consistently without long breaks. They all agree that it is impossible to learn a language if you study once week. If you want to learn a language you’ll have to study a little bit most days.
Fourth, polyglots recommend that you don’t study too much grammar or try to memorize vocabulary. Grammar exercises are boring for most people, and they don’t remember the explanations. Memorizing vocabulary is also boring. Polyglots also don’t try to speak to native speakers too early. It’s better to wait until you have more confidence after practicing reading, listening, repeating, and reading aloud. You’ll make fewer mistakes and are more likely to remember corrections.
So, to begin with, you need to find something to read, to have a translation into your language, and to have an audio version for listening and speaking. Remember that polyglots try to enjoy the language, so they try to find books and audio that they really like. The more interesting the books the faster you will learn. They also try to hang out with friendly native speakers whose company they enjoy. Remember that having a positive attitude and a strong motivation is the most important thing in learning a language.
Finally, polyglots recommend that you use a system for storing your vocabulary. This is where the internet and the personal devices really help a lot. If you have a list of vocabulary in your notebook, or on your computer, you can input this into an online flashcard system. The best and most popular flashcard system is Quizlet.com. Don’t just put the word and its definition! You will learn much more if you put the original phrase in which you found the word together with the definition.
You will want to use your personal device like iPod or iPhone. Of course, you can put the mp3′s of the audio to listen to. You then need to search on your iPhone for some flashcard apps that are integrated with Quizlet, such as Flashcards Deluxe by OrangeOrApple, or Flashcard Touch by Agilis Lab. You can get a free version Flashcards Deluxe Lite to try. Good luck and happy jetsetting!