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How to Learn a Foreign Language

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Knowing how to learn a foreign language is the most important aspect in the process of becoming fluent. Using the natural approach, the first step is to focus on understanding and speaking the foreign language. Reading, writing and grammar will come after you have developed basic communication skills which allow you to understand what you hear and to speak well enough for others to understand what you are trying to say. How successful you are with foreign language learning will depend on how much time you are willing to commit. The more time you dedicate to the language, the faster you will learn it. It is essential to integrate the new language into your daily life.

Forget What You Know. When you are trying to learn a foreign language, it is best to forget what you know in terms of the grammar rules and structure of your native language. Do not attempt to compare your language to the foreign language you wish to learn. Start with a clean slate so you can learn the basics of the new language with an open mind.

The Natural Approach. In the beginning of your foreign language learning process, make an effort to learn the language naturally, like you learned your first language as a child. No one taught you about grammar or sentence structure as a toddler, but you acquired effective language skills based on your desire and need to communicate with others. Use this approach as you learn a foreign language. Remember that the primary goal is to understand the language when you hear it spoken and to speak the language well enough for others to get your meaning. Do not worry about perfection in the early stage of language learning. Focus simply on communicating.

Study the Culture. Become familiar with the culture attached to the language you want to learn. It is virtually impossible to become fluent in a foreign language without knowing the culture. Language and culture are inseparable, and the culture adds unique meanings to the words, especially in Asian languages.

Buy a Children's Book. Purchase a children's book in the foreign language you are learning so you can slowly begin developing your reading skills. Starting with children's books is beneficial because the vocabulary level is lower and the sentences are shorter. This will help you get used to reading the language as you begin to understand basic vocabulary, sentence structure and grammar. Moreover, you will gain confidence from actually reading in the foreign language. As your language skills improve, select more advanced reading materials in the language.

Get a Bilingual Dictionary. Buy a quality bilingual dictionary and make use of it. As you are developing your language skills, it is essential to set a goal to improve your vocabulary each day. Decide to learn 10 new foreign language words each day. Use your dictionary to choose the words and write all 10 on the same index card. Keep that index card with you all day and memorize those words as you carry on with your daily activities. Review the words while standing in line at the grocery store or post office. This is a great way to quickly build your vocabulary.

Foreign Language DVDs. Another excellent way to improve your language learning skills is to buy one interesting film in your target language and watch it repeatedly until you understand all the conversations taking place. This will enable you to improve your listening skills, build your vocabulary and become more familiar with the culture of the language.

Language Learning CDs. As you learn a foreign language, you will need a language learning CD that you can listen to while you are working, relaxing at home or driving around in your car. Listening to your new language every day will help build your overall foreign language skills. CDs are also useful for days when you simply do not feel like studying the language. Passively listening to the language is better than nothing.

Practice Speaking. Practice speaking the foreign language at every available opportunity. Try to regularly use the vocabulary as you learn it, otherwise you will start to forget. Make friends with native speakers and use the language as often as possible. Plan to take a vacation or study abroad in a country that speaks the language you are learning if you have the opportunity to do so. Nothing is more effective than total immersion.

Use the Internet. There are numerous language learning websites that offer tutorials and additional resources to help you learn a foreign language. Use these resources to supplement your learning and to get more advice on how to learn a foreign language.

Follow the above tips on how to learn a foreign language, and you will soon be speaking like the natives.

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