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Learning a Second Language

Teenagers usually rebel against anything without actually realizing their true goal. Learning a second language in high school may be somebody’s first choice, but for most teens is a reason plus that justifies their disobedient nature. But once you grow older and start understanding things more maturely you will realize that rarely something you’ve studied in high school was a waste of your time. If you were very artistic you were probably wondering why you should study algebra when you’re already talented in some domain. Or maybe playing basketball was a fool's errand because you had a big science fair coming up. Whichever the case was, almost all school subjects are beneficial in some way and sooner or later in life. If nothing more, the subjects you hate studying will give you a clear perspective of what you want and steer your development further. School is mandatory for each individual because without it we would learn emotional and social skills much later in life. We would live our lives without realizing how the classroom rules of behavior, test scores and grading affect our attitudes towards ourselves, others and society. Learning a second language broadens the horizons. It’s an easy and fun way to learn about other cultures and their customs and will make you smarter, pathologically speaking and of course, as a social booster.

Why is Learning a Second Language Beneficial?

Well, the obvious benefit of speaking a language other than your native is the fact that it looks good on your CV. It will make you look smarter not only during traveling abroad, but also if you apply for a job in your own hometown. Even if you speak Mandarin Chinese and you are absolutely sure the bureau will never ask for employees with that type of skills, employers will still appreciate your effort and time you’ve spent learning the language. You will be amazed how much of your own language you’ll be unable to remember, especially grammar and punctuation. When you study another language, you first have to try and remember the rules that apply in your own language, so you can understand the foreign better and faster. That is why a second language is best studied during high school, while you’re learning English simultaneously. During that period, the brain is programmed to study and learn new stuff, so learning anything is easier than when you grow older. It’s not impossible to learn when you’re 30 years old however, but you will need to use your free time and heat the chair just like you’re in high school. But learning a second language will be a great advantage to your cognitive process. Several studies continuously proved that bilingual people are under much lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in their younger years, regardless of their social status, education level, physical health or gender. Because scientists often associate the brain to a muscle, the more you exercise this muscle the stronger it will get. Learning another language involves learning new words and memorizing grammar rules, which makes it an excellent workout for this muscle. The studies also showed that bilingual and polylingual people are better at remembering names, phone numbers, directions and shopping lists. Because your brain constantly has to switch modes from your native to a foreign language, you’ll be able to develop problem solving skills. Your alertness and focus on any job or task will be improved because you will learn how to control your brain and force it to concentrate. If not, you will gain fast empirical skills since you will frequently put your brain in a state where it has to observe, make judgments and find explanations. Learning a second language is not easy, but only while you’re still a beginner. Once you get a handle on your new verbal skills, you will find it easier to juggle between your native language and the foreign language. Juggling between two different languages will make your mind sharp and agile, so multitasking will not be a problem in your day to day activities.

Tips for Learning a Second Language faster

Taking language lessons and sitting in the classroom will teach you about grammar, sentence structure, pronouncing and punctuation. However, when you leave the classroom and your books, you will realize that theory is not the same thing as practice. Taking lessons has its pros and cons, and may work for you depending on what type of person you are. If you are eager to learn, very curious and motivated, group classes might progress at a very slow pace for you. At these lessons, the class moves forward only when the slowest student learns the lesson. It’ll be great if that student is you, but if you’re not, you’ll easily get bored and move on. On the other hand, learning in groups is very efficient because you try to catch up with the other students and they do the same, while exchanging information and tips. All in all, one on one classes or classes with very few students are more effective and worthy of your money. If you’re more comfortable learning a second language on your own, you can buy online courses and audio tracks to learn the basic grammar and common words. Every language group has the same patterns, so if you start learning a Latin based language and you are a native English speaker, it should be easier for you. Audio classes are especially useful. They force you to repeat the words you hear, which will make the pronunciation easier. You can also listen to the same audio several times, until you remember the entire class. The best thing about these types of classes is that they leave you with options about the timing of the class.

They say we are more productive while sitting on the toilet, so you can test this deposition and see if it’s true. You can listen to the track while you’re driving, cooking, or even exercising. You will say a lot of stupid things, so it will be best to accept that fact and learn anyway. It’s funny to hear foreigners speak English and it will be fun for them to hear you speak their language too. Some may mock you, others will correct you, either way you will learn to say the words properly. Conversation is the key to learning a language and no matter how much time you spent learning from a book or on the computer, it will not be the same as learning from an actual conversation. We are not robots who can be programmed to remember something and we link memories with social experiences and human interaction. You will learn a lot more while conversing for one hour every day than studying from a book or sitting in a classroom. And find a way to use the words you’ve learned right away because that will make them stick to your memory. You can use them in sentences or link them with nouns, adjectives or funny phrases you already know. Watch TV, movies, read newspapers and listen to music in the language you’re trying to learn. You may not understand everything you hear or read, but still, the incidence itself will put your brain in the learning mode. The most important thing is to not skip your classes. Learn a few new words every day and repeat the ones you already know. At first, you will be able to say only a few words, link them together in a sentence and sound funny, but you won’t understand anything said back to you. The toughest part is when you start to understand a little but not as much as you like to. Keep listening and ask questions. Ask your correspondent to repeat themselves if you didn’t quite understand what they said. Think over the conversation later in your mind, find your errors and remember them. Once you start thinking in the language you want to learn or using a word or two in your everyday conversations, you can say you’ve made a great progress.

What to Avoid When Learning a Second Language

You have to find ways to make your study fun. They say learning a language is best done in a couple, but if you can’t find a member of the opposite sex to make you fluid in a month, you can find a pen pal. With today’s variety of social platforms you can find pen pals from any country you want and learn while chatting. If you don’t like the classroom atmosphere, there are many ways to learn a new language and still make it fun. Learning is most successful when done intensely, but don’t burn out your brain with information. Lots of people learned a second language in high school, but rarely someone remembers anything. If you don’t want your efforts to go to waste, keep your study light, fun and engaging, but make sure the classes become your everyday routine. Doubt is your biggest enemy when you want to learn a new language. When you read a sentence and don’t understand some word, don’t jump for the dictionary. Find out what the word means from the context and then check the dictionary. If you are wrong, look up both words and their meaning. Don’t depend solely on one learning technique. Go to classes, but listen to music and news in the same language to make a mindset that will stay attracted longer. Fear and frustration will be there until you start to sound native-like, so accept those mental conditions and embrace them. Learning a second language is just like learning your native language when you were a little baby. The difference is that, now you have the mental capacity to assimilate the language you already know with the language you want to learn.

References

1. 10 Superb Psychological Advantages of Learning Another Language http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/09/10-superb-psychological-advantages-of-learning-another-language.php

2. Benefits of Being Bilingual: Why We Should Learn a Second Language http://voxxi.com/2013/09/20/benefits-of-being-bilingual-why-we-should-learn-a-second-language/

3. Why You Should Learn Another Language http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2014/01/29/the-business-benefits-of-learning-a-foreign-language

4. The Benefits and Opportunities that come from Learning another Language http://www.itseducation.asia/languages.htm

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