What is the best way to learn language? This is a question asked more and more everyday. Today’s world has grown much smaller. Many people are learning second languages for fun, for travel reasons or the help in securing a new job. Never before has the learning languages been so popular. The big question is what method or website will teach you fastest and easiest?
The first thing to realize is that if you already know a language you understand how language works and all you need to do is learn substitute words in the new language you want to speak.
Consider when you learned your first language as a child and how you did it. First of course you made mistakes. Not hearing the words accurately as they were spoken or pronouncing them correctly. You can expect this in learning a second language. You will confuse sounds and similar words that could have very different meanings. This was part of your learning curve for your first language.
Another aspect in finding a way to learn a language is reading and writing. If you are English speaking and want to learn Spanish it will not be difficult to learn the differences of Spanish using the alphabet. This is because the Spanish alphabet is almost the same as English alphabet. Mandarin Chinese on the other hand is very different. You will have to learn over 2000 characters of letters. This could be a big challenge. An easy way to deal with the writing problem is to learn the Chinese words by spelling them out phonetically in English. You already understand the rules of English and how to make sounds from the letters so this can make it much easier.
Learning the language of an Asian country adds another learning aspect that many European languages don’t have. Many Asian languages use tones. You can have words that sound the same to the untrained ear but have totally different meanings. Many people know that hello in Chinese is “nee how.” But to say it correctly you say “nee” with a tone that falls then rises or wavers and again for “how.” An example in the Thai language is the word “mah”. With a constant tone or no change it means “come.” “Mah” with a rising tone at the end like asking a question means “dog.” Asian languages like Mandarin Chinese or Thai use tones that rise and fall in the same syllable. You have to train your ears to hear the sounds accurately the same as when you learned English as a child. Don’t think of it as difficult, but only different.
It is also good to learn some grammar. Most English speakers feel grammar is important but grammar is not that important to be understood in foreign language learning. If you speak “house my” or “my house” you will be understood. You will be surprised to learn how simple other languages speak. Redundant words like “the” or “a” are not used. After all what is the real difference between saying “a car” or “the car” when you speak “car”?
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