EducationSelf Development

How to Quickly and Efficiently Learn a New Language

If you are reading this, then for some specific reason you wish to dive into the seemingly “daunting” yet exciting process of learning a new language. Is it English, German, Spanish? I don’t know and right now it doesn’t really matter which of the languages you want to learn because, what I am about to share with you applies to all languages, so stay with me a little longer.

As someone that speaks 3 international languages and two local languages, I decided to share with you some fundamental techniques I am convicted you can take advantage of to learn a new language quickly and efficiently while having fun. Before we get there, here is something that I think everyone should understand before diving into this new adventure and experience.

The relationship of the languages you speak and the language you want to learn plays a critical role in determining how fast and effortlessly you are going to learn the new language. Being in class with scholars from countries around the globe such as China, India, Iran, Russia, Egypt, Nigeria, etc, the time difference in learning the Turkish language between us varied significantly. While most African students like myself struggled not only with pronunciation but with understanding the sentence structure of the Turkish language which by the way, is utterly different from English and French, the others were able to express themselves comfortably within the first month of lectures. Initially, we thought these students were smarter than us, which was bogus. The reason was trivial, their languages belong to the same family as the Turkish language, meaning it takes lesser time for them to learn Turkish in particular. Check out this article on Wikibooks: Language Learning Difficulty for English Speakers for more information on this.

So now, with that out of the way, let’s get the ball rolling. Below are four things you can do to minimize your learning time while having a lot of fun.

1. Take a Trip.

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How fast do you want to learn this new language? 4 months?. 9 months? or 1 year? Then here is what you must do. Get your travel bag-pack and move to an environment where you know this language is spoken the most. You got to inundate yourself in it. You have to be in a place where almost everyone speaks this language. Everywhere you turn your ears should pick up sound waves that correspond to this alien language. This way, you will inherently force yourself to learn so fast that, your brain will have no choice but to start making sense out of the chaos. I call this making use of our survival instincts. This is precisely how I was able to fluently speak French within 4 months and the Turkish language with 7 months. I moved from my hometown-Bamenda in Cameroon to the capital city Yaounde(90% french speakers). Later I then moved to Istanbul-Turkey where I learned the Turkish language.

2. Buy a Tiny Notebook.

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We had this beautiful smart lady from Mongolia in our class who in her free-time kept starring at her little notebook where she had written words, phrases and so much more. I even met her coincidentally inside the bus but she didn’t recognize I was the one sitting next to her until I said merhaba (meaning Hello/Hi in English). In less than 2 months, she could speak Turkish so fluently that the rest of us, had no choice than to listen and watch in admiration when she started speaking. We could not even understand more than 70% of what she was saying. That is how good she was. The magic was in her tiny little notebook which she carried with her everywhere she went. Get your own little notebook today and write down new words you come across daily in the language you are learning. In your time of relaxation or anytime you want during the day, browse through it and as you do this your brain will automatically and permanently save this in memory without stress or much effort. Keep jotting down words and sentences daily in your notebook and you will be amazed not only at how much you have learned but also at how much you can remember.

3. Find a Friend.

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Gabriel: Beltus trust me. If you want to learn the Turkish language so quickly get a Turkish girlfriend bro.

Me: you serious bro?

It’s actually hard to admit but it turns out Gabriel was right. While I was struggling to have some boring conversation in Turkish with strangers, a couple of my friends were having scintillating chats with their newly found Turkish girlfriends. Guess what..? Their speaking improved prolifically more than mine. I am not saying you should get a new girlfriend for every language you want to learn. Rather, I am saying that go out there and make some new friends who are fluent in the language you wish to learn. Hang out with them and practice your speaking. Chat with them on social media like WhatsApp to further hone your writing skills. I assure you will be quite effective.

4. Watch Movies and Listen to Music.

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When I asked a friend of mine from Albania who I play table tennis with, how many months he attended the Turkish course to be able to speak Turkish like a native speaker, I was mind-blown by his response. He said he had never seen the four walls of a Turkish language class. He spent his time in Albania before moving to Istanbul, watching Turkish TV shows and movies, and listening to some beautiful heart-touching music. I followed his foot-steps and it tremendously improved my listening and also speaking ability. You can do the same to any new language you want to learn. Watch the movies with subtitles to widen your vocabulary and at the same time, your ears will rapidly adapt to the accent of the native speakers.

5.  Shortcut Apps

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I was so unlucky to have come across this amazing application called Anki later than sooner while watching a youtube video of Professor Trefor Bazett. He recommended this app to help memorize words in a really fun and effective way. I decided to give it a try and was mind-blown by the results. Based on my personal experience with using this app not only to improve on my Turkish language skills but also to increase my English language vocabulary, I can say it tops the chart compared to others I tried in the past. There are hundreds of apps out there such as Duolingo and even free video lessons for learning new languages. Explore these apps and see what works best for you then stick with that. The secret is to HAVE FUN while learning. Remember, language ain’t mathematics.

As a final note, learning a new language is normally a slow and gentle process that takes time and often should not be overly rushed. You may feel overwhelmed at the beginning but trust me, it gets easier. Hang in there and don’t give up. Let the reason you decided to learn the new language be the fuel that keeps the flame of motivation going no matter how hard it might seem. Learning this new language will unlock certain parts of your brain while creating new neuro-connections which will definitely result in a smarter and better you than your old self.

Focus on the price. Happy learning. Cheers!!!

Hopefully, you enjoyed reading this article as much I did enjoy writing it. Feel free to read more articles, comment, share, make suggestions.

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